By Johnny Walker
I didn’t want to believe it, but there is was, the plain truth staring at me on BoxRec: American boxing legend James “Lights Out” Toney has decided to continue his adventures in the heavyweight division by taking on Lucas “Big Daddy” Browne in Australia on April 28.
The sad deteroration of the once-great Toney has been well documented. It has come to the point where the damage that Toney, 44, has accumulated through his many years in the ring is so evident that he can’t find anyone willing to fight him in the USA.
Toney (74-7-3, 45 KOs) did have a fight with Polish veteran Tomasz Adamek lined up last year, but such was the alarm in the boxing press about a fighter of Adamek’s ability beating up the beyond shot Toney, that the proposed fight was soon dropped by Adamek’s promoter, Main Events. A slurring, nearly indecipherable Toney didn’t help his case by threatening (via an ill-advised YouTube video) an ESPN boxing scribe who criticized the matchup.
Browne (15-0, 14 KOs) is a fairly crude 33-year-old power puncher who a younger Toney would have likely handled easily. But the Toney seen in recent years is a man whose skills are only a shadow of what they once were. The only reason to be interested in a Toney fight now is the same reason why people rubberneck at car accidents: to see if this is the time that Toney has finally gone too far, if this is the night that a boxing tragedy occurs. Browne is already promising to turn Toney’s lights out for the first time in the American’s career, and that prospect now seems all too likely.
Toney is not Bernard Hopkins, whose discipline throughout his life allows him to still be successful well into his 40s. In fact, Toney’s lack of discipline in matters of health and finances has led to the state of affairs he finds himself in now, having to travel all the way to Australia for one more payday that isn’t going to come close to getting him out of the financial bind he’s in.
Let’s just hope that Toney’s opponent is incompetent enough to allow “Lights Out” to escape the fate that seems inevitable for him, one more time.