Jackie Kallen, the longtime boxing manager whose life inspired the 2004 Meg Ryan/Omar Epps film Against the Ropes, gave her thoughts on one of her old fighters, James Toney, taking on Ken Shamrock in some type of MMA bout this fall. From BoxingInsider.com:
James Toney is 73-6-3 as a pro boxer and 0-1 as an MMA fighter. In what other sport can a fighter with 45 pro fights under his belt (Shamrock) face a man who is 0-1? It is laughable.
So far there is no confirmed date or location for the fight. However, the press conference gave James Toney a chance to do what he does best–rant and rave and threaten and intimidate. Only it appeared that Ken Shamrock was more amused than worried. Some said that James resembled an old, toothless pit bull, sitting on the front porch–barking at old memories.
The rules for the fight are apparently going to include standing up the fighters after 30 seconds on the ground, which would help Toney in theory, but even at 47 and way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way past his best, Shamrock's knowledge of submissions is deep, and even if it weren't, Toney's knowledge of submissions is so limited that it Shamrock could know 90% less and still would be way ahead.
For those who didn't see Toney's fight in February with Damon Reed, it's available on YouTube. Toney, who turns 43 in August, looked awful in the 10-round decision win, and came in at a career-high 257 pounds. That's 20 pounds higher than he was when he was heavily criticized for being in terrible condition in 2006 against Hasim Rahman.
Kallen's thoughts ring with a hint of true sadness -- though it was reported she and Toney had a very rocky professional relationship, it's clear she really cares about him, and her blunt honesty is actually kind of refreshing. She even admits a hope that the fight is competitive and surprises her, but the expectations are clear, and here's the awful truth: Nobody cares about this fight as anything more than a tragic spectacle between two guys who shouldn't be in there anymore.