Steve Kim of Max Boxing was told by promoter Dan Goossen that a James Toney-Hasim Rahman fight is set for July, and that he was simply working on finding a TV slot for the bout.
The two previously met in 2006 for the WBC title in a dreadful draw that featured Toney as fat as he ever got, at 237 pounds on his 5'10" frame, and is considered by most to be a fight that Rahman should have won on the judges' scorecards. I suppose the motivating factor as far as a hype line is "unfinished business," but that fight was so much older than two years of age in terms of relevance that it might as well be Fenech-Nelson III.
Since the two last met, here's what has happened in each of their careers.
- Dropped the WBC strap five months later (August 2006) to Oleg Maskaev in a mild upset with a scintillating finish, a 12th round TKO with an official time of 43 seconds remaining in the bout.
- Took ten months off, and came back on Vs. to fight Taurus Sykes in an ugly, awful ten-round unanimous decision win. Rahman was Toney-fat for this fight, weighing in at a career-high 261 pounds and looking every bit as out of shape as that would make one expect.
- Lost 11 pounds and knocked out Dicky Ryan in two rounds in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. Lost 10 more and knocked out Cerrone Fox in one in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.
- Took on and defeated the delightfully quirky veteran Zuri Lawrence (23-13-4, 0 KO as of this writing), and gutted out a much harder than it should have been 10th round TKO. At the time of stoppage, Lawrence led on one card, 86-84, and Rahman led on the other two, 86-84 and 88-82.
- Six months after the draw against Rahman, he lost a split decision against Samuel Peter in a WBC mandatory. Most felt Peter won the fight, but Gale Van Hoy scored it 115-112 for Toney. Peter won the other cards, 116-111 both times.
- Four months after the Peter bout, the WBC held an ordered rematch mandatory, which was B.S., but that's the way it is. This time, Peter dominated, routing Toney on scores of 118-110, 118-110 and 119-108.
- Another four months passed and Toney took a stay-warm fight against journeyman Danny Batchelder, who, like Toney, started his career much lighter. Batchelder came in as a super middleweight/light heavyweight, though he obviously never reached the levels that "Lights Out" did in his prime. Toney struggled to an anemic split decision victory. After the fight, Toney tested positive for steroids for the second time in his career, though he got his suspension reduced to six months after appealing and claiming someone must have tampered with his water bottle. Yeah, that must've been it.
So what we're looking at is a pair of former stars, one an ex-heavyweight titlist and the other a former beltholder at middleweight, super middleweight, light heavyweight and cruiserweight who just never quite got over that final hump at heavyweight, although he was quite competitive for a while.
And both are washed-up, shot fighters with no future who are hanging on to that glimmer of hope that maybe they'll get to fight Wladimir Klitschko or someone and score an upset.
Rahman is 35 years old. Toney turns 40 in August. Goossen wants to get the fight on either ESPN2 or FOX Sports Net, the latter of which would probably jump at the opportunity of a "Best Damn Fight Night" piece of crap featuring two faded ex-names, one of whom has twice disgraced himself and his legacy and has been the butt of more fat jokes than almost anyone in the sport's history, and the other of whom is just an aged fighter running on fumes, as happens to most fighters.
It might seem like I don't like James Toney, which is true, but I also don't want to give the impression that I don't respect what he's done in the sport. He was a hell of a middleweight. Great fighter. And I've always found him to be entertaining and funny. But look at baseball. Most fans are pretty self-righteous about the steroids thing over there. Most writers are even worse than the fans. Why is it that when Toney tests positive twice in a sport where men are hurting one another on purpose, almost nobody bats an eye?
Toney doesn't deserve another shot at TV or stardom. He deserves to be cast aside. If you buy his claims of being tampered with, then I've got a bridge, yada yada yada.
Is anybody really going to care about this fight? If Rahman wins, what's his real upside? Fighting David Haye? I don't think Haye is destined to be the savior of the division, but I'm pretty sure he'd take Rahman's head off at this point. What is the Toney future plan, should he beat Rahman? A fight with Klitschko? Are you kidding?
I suppose one of them COULD fight Evander Holyfield on pay-per-view to kickstart Evander's next run at unifying all four heavyweight titles. Better yet, let's not give anyone ideas.
I have literally no interest in seeing this fight. If it's on free TV on a Wednesday, I'll tune in, because I'm a lunatic and I still firmly believe that to love the great fights, you have to see the bad ones, plus there's always that outside chance that two worn-out fighters show up and their diminished skills come together in such a way that something pretty damn good happens. Mayorga-Vargas worked at 164 pounds, after all.