This past weekend, 41-year old James Toney fought Matthew Greer on the Ward-Pudwill undercard in a fight that has received a little bit of hype about James Toney being 'back.' Toney finally actually took training seriously, and walked into the ring at 217.5 pounds, his lowest weight in six years - what could be so bad for him? And while Toney walked into the ring just looking morbidly obese rather than like a gigantic tub of goo, I'm sad to report what we should all know by now: the lights are out for Lights Out.
Toney very clearly gets stunned and knocked back in this video. Keep in mind that he's facing a 12-5 fighter who has lost his last two to Brian Minto and Kevin Johnson. Sure, James dispatches of him early, but he also had some more problems than he really should have had. This comes on the heels of a 'controversial' win over Fres Oquendo (Bad Left Hook scored the fight as a wide decision for Oquendo), a no-contest near-victory against an equally done Hasim Rahman, a close win over Danny Batchelder (that many contemporary reports had Batchelder winning, and after which he tested positive for steroids, but the result stood because Batchelder ALSO tested positive for steroids) and a wide decision loss to Samuel Peter. While James flashes some of his old self, the reality is that he hasn't looked particularly good in four years, since he beat Dominick Guinn.
Not only does Toney's record make it look like there's a gigantic fork in his back, but I fear a bit for his long-term health. While his slick style would lead you to believe he hasn't taken too much damage, he very clearly has taken a ton of damage over the course of his career, in good part because he's a natural middleweight who's been fighting at heavyweight for a while, and in good part because most of his training has always consisted of sparring rather than things like roadwork and eating healthy. His patented jibber jabber has turned into thibba thabba. Once upon a time, he was entertaining to listen to, talking himself up and trash talking everyone around him. Now, there are times I think even Toney doesn't know what he's saying, and he's about as punch drunk as any active boxer I can think of.
It would be one thing if James could still defend himself, but he really can't. Sure, he still has some of his patented upper body movement, but while that used to be based on reactions, now it's just movement for the sake of movement, and he can be timed and hit, because he just doesn't have the reflexes to get out of the way anymore. He also doesn't have the energy to punch back. In the Oquendo fight, he averaged throwing just over 40 punches a round, many of them being show-me type jabs. In this fight, he threw much more, but the fight also only lasted 2 rounds, and James had to know he could get Greer out of there quickly.
Some fighters leave too soon, and some fighters hang on too long. There's no question that Lights Out is at the end of his tether. For his sake and ours, he should call it a day.