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James Toney loves to talk about James Toney

James Toney claims that the Klitschko "sisters" are ducking him and that he's won any half-well regarded heavyweight title. Well... (Photo via <a href=""></a>)
James Toney claims that the Klitschko "sisters" are ducking him and that he's won any half-well regarded heavyweight title. Well... (Photo via

As a boxing fan, I've long had a love-hate relationship with James "Lights Out" Toney. The former super middleweight star has been at the wheel for a long, bumpy ride as a professional boxer, from some glorious highs to some pretty disgraceful lows. He's twice tested positive for illegal substances, has received what many feel are some gift decisions, and was humiliated in his first career loss, way back in 1994 to Roy Jones Jr. in a highly-anticipated fight.

He has also participated in one of the damnedest action fights you'll ever see with Vasiliy Jirov and will go down, in the end, as one of the best defensive fighters of his era, no matter what you think of anything else he ever. "Lights Out" talked with about -- what else? -- himself, and some of the quotes were fairly interesting. Over the past few years, you've been through some controversy -- the losses to Samuel Peters and the suspensions. Do those kinds of things discourage you at all? Does it change your outlook?

James Toney: The two fights with Samuel Peters were bullsh**. Everybody knew the first time I beat him. I destroyed him. Somehow, the judges were drunk. They gave him the decision. Second time, we fought again. I thought I beat him again, but hey ... he ran, he ran, he ran, and he got the decision.

As far as the suspensions going down, that was some bogus stuff. I don't take drugs. I don't do that. I bought something over the counter, and I didn't know what was in there. But that's what happens. I never do things intentionally.

For the record, Toney's two failed drug tests came after a win over John Ruiz in 2005, and another after in a win over Danny Batchelder in 2007. The Ruiz fight was changed to a no-contest, which took away Toney's goal of being "heavyweight champion," not that JT sees it that way (we'll get to that in a moment).

The Batchelder test did not lead to any change of the official 10-round split decision win for Toney, as both tested positive and it seemed like the California State Athletic Commission just sort went, "Screw it, whatever." After that fight, Toney tested positive for the steroids stanozolol and boldenone. Batchelder was on stanozolol and oxandolone.

I remember when Rafael Palmeiro tested positive for steroids back in 2005, and I was blogging about the Baltimore Orioles for SB Nation then. Will Carroll of Baseball Prospectus told me back then that it would be almost impossible to test positive for stanozolol without actually injecting the steroid. So the likelihood that Toney popped a test for something he got at GNC is probably exceptionally low.

Next, we examine Toney as he discusses his illustrious reigns as "heavyweight champion": How did it feel to actually do it and accomplishing it?

James Toney: The first time ... when I beat Rydell Booker for the first IBA Championship, it was great accomplish because it was a Heavyweight Championship. A championship is a championship. Then, when I beat John Ruiz to unify the IBA and WBA title, that was like ... Damn. I did it in the Mecca of boxing in Madison Square Garden, I was so happy I was ecstatic. It was a great feeling.

The fight with Rydell Booker -- who came in 22-0 and then never fought again after losing the decision -- was for the IBA heavyweight title and the WBC Continental Americas title. Neither had any reputation then and they don't know. Toney did beat John Ruiz to win Ruiz's recognized WBA title, but again, he popped positive and the result was changed to a no-contest.

Toney has never won a recognized piece of the heavyweight title. He also talks about beating Fres Oquendo last December on Vs. for the heavyweight title. They fought for -- again -- the vacant IBA title and the WBO NABO title. It was a horrid fight that many felt Oquendo deserved to win, but the judges gave it to Toney.

And now, his usual, bi-monthly complaining that the Klitschkos won't fight him:

James Toney: [The Klitschkos] have been [dodging me], for seven years. The problem is, they supposed to be the biggest and best fighters the American press claims to be, they should fight the best fighter period, which is me. If you look at my record, my record speaks for itself.

Toney's record is 72-6-3, with 44 knockouts. He has not beaten a top heavyweight since the nullified win over Ruiz in 2005, and before that it was his win over a faded Evander Holyfield in 2003. Evander had long since fallen from grace. And truthfully, Evander is probably Toney's best heavyweight win, six years ago and already washed-up.

Part of me, though, maintains that old admiration of Toney. I really do think he should go ahead and hang it up, but he doesn't take much punishment when he fights. He's still above average defensively for an undersized heavyweight, and he has shown lately that at 41, he just might have that spark to be in shape. His recent win over journeyman Matt Greer had him weigh in at 217 pounds, his lowest weight since the Holyfield fight.

But none of that changes the fact that he's delusional about his own career, at least in interviews. Maybe he knows that a lot of this is B.S. and he's just hoping for a good payday with one of the Klitschkos, but the fact is there are about 20 guys ahead of him in line. Some of them deserve to be, some of them might essentially be a wash, some might not even present as good of a challenge as an on-point, focused, in-shape Toney could, but he's never going to find himself in the ring with one of them. Finding commitment at 41 is rarely a good plan for a boxer.

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