By Johnny Walker
Back in February when tonight’s James “Lights Out” Toney vs Bobby Gunn heavyweight “title” bout was announced, we at Boxing Insider wondered whether the promotion was misrepresenting Toney’s status.
Toney was billing himself as the “IBA world heavyweight champion” at that time, even though the obscure boxing organization’s own web site listed that title as “vacant.”
After our article was published and inquiries to the IBA went unanswered, the promotion changed course, billing the Toney vs Gunn fight as being for the “vacant IBA world heavyweight title.”
Now, on the eve of the fight comes word that the IBA has washed its hands of the bout entirely.
According to a news flash on Fightnews.com:
Tonight’s heavyweight clash between James Toney and Bobby Gunn will not be for the IBA world heavyweight title. According to IBA vice president Bob Case, it was confirmed by IBA president Dean Chance last night that this title is NOT at stake in this fight. He went on to say that the IBA was never contacted about sanctioning this fight for the vacant title, which was formerly held by Toney.
Toney, who supposedly weighed in at 200 pounds for his humiliation at the hands of Denis Lebedev in Russia last November, tipped (or broke) the scales yesterday at 248, the second highest weight of his career. His rapidly deteriorating speech and his delusional statements about being the “heavyweight champ of the world” have prompted many, including ESPN’s boxing scribe Dan Rafael, to wonder how Toney is able to get a license to fight.
“I heard an interview with him the other night and he is clearly brain damaged,” Rafael said yesterday.
“I dont say that to mock him in any way. I have been a Toney fan for many years. But he sounded like he was chewing on rocks. It is sick and sad that any commission would allow him to enter a ring. I am not doctor but James sounds way worse today than he did just a year or two ago.”
About the only reason to be interested in tonight’s farcical bout is to see whether this is the night that James Toney’s long boxing career finally comes to an end.
Toney has truly become a cautionary tale in the annals of boxing.
[update: latest reports have this bout now being sanctioned as a title fight by the IBU]