Here's some video from the James Toney vs Ken Shamrock "press conference" on Saturday.
For those who might come by and see this and don't really follow boxing, let me make something abundantly clear: James Toney is not, nor has he ever been, the world heavyweight champion of boxing. Toney holds an exceptionally lightly-regarded belt from the International Boxing Association (IBA), which absolutely nobody takes seriously besides James Toney. You might say, "Hey, I thought all the belts in boxing were supposedly worthless," and sure, sort of, but there is a set foursome that the majority of the world does recognize as having at least a spoonful of credibility: WBC, WBA, IBF, and in fourth place, WBO. The IBA holds no water and Toney is recognized by nobody as a true heavyweight champion of any kind. Toney did once win the WBA title against John Ruiz, but that was voided because he failed his post-fight drug test. Toney was a real titlist at middleweight, super middleweight, and cruiserweight. But not heavyweight.
And to be clear again, Toney's claim that he's not washed up is painfully untrue in the eyes of basically everyone in and around boxing. He doesn't have a truly notable W on his record since 2003, when he wiped out an already-old Evander Holyfield.
But that does make me think of the other side here, which is Ken Shamrock, who was once one of the most feared combat athletes in the entire world, years before UFC gained any real traction as a popular sport in the United States. He was at one time one of the very best in the world. Now he's almost 50 years old and in his last fight, lost to a guy who has a career losing record.
This fight is sad on both sides, but this is part of the reality that will become more and more evident in MMA, as it has been in boxing. As MMA grows older as a sport, guys like this are going to hang on for too long the way Shamrock is now. There are current UFC champions that you currently can't imagine being sad, washed-up fighters fighting on regional cards -- but they're going to be. Some of your favorite fighters are going to spend their athletic twilight years losing to guys who in their prime wouldn't even have been fit to spar with them. I know it has happened already, but it will just continue to happen. It's the way fighters of any stripe are wired, and it's what they do for a living. And it's never pleasant to watch a guy go out there and put black marks on his career record because he either has to do it for money, or because he just can't convince himself that it's over.