Lights Out for James Toney

By Ted Sares on November 4, 2011
Lights Out for James Toney
Although James looked good cosmetically, the massive weight loss drained him completely


“All that remained in the body of James Toney today was craftiness and guts.”—Scott Christ

James “Lights Out” Toney (73-7-3) lost every round to Denis Lebedev (23-1) signaling what most of us already knew. He is totally done and is no longer a factor in any way whatsoever. He was shutout by scores of 120-108, 120-108, and 120-10 over 12 ugly and embarrassing rounds where he lacked balance and any semblance of his former self. Toney hurt his left leg early, but it didn’t really matter as his reflexes and power were totally gone. Buddy McGirt would have done well to throw in the towel around the ninth or 10th round, but Toney would have none of that. No one can ever deny Toney’s toughness. Lebedev, who was able to pop Toney almost at will and can counter well, went for the kill in the last round, but time ran out.

As I also suspected, though James looked good cosmetically, the massive weight loss drained him completely. Toney was a truly great fighter at one time and I don’t mean to come down overly hard on him, but let’s face it, he seemed to almost purposely give away his opportunities to capitalize on his greatness and went into a self-destruct mode. He really hasn’t looked good since his 2008 NC with Hasim Rahman.

As for Lebedev, he can lay claim to being the interim WBA cruiserweight titleholder as well as a “Legend Beater,” but if and when he fights slick and stylish Ismayl Sillakh (the Ukrainian-born, California-based light heavyweight) or rematches with heavy-handed Marco Huck, he will be exposed as nothing all that special. It was just that Toney and Jones were that bad.

Sillakh (17-0), by the way, won his fight over Ali Ismailov and remains my favorite young fighter.

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  1. Mo 04:28am, 01/01/2012

    Boxing and MMA are punishing sports that leave lasting physical and mental scars.
    Whilst im a boxing fan i admire the manner Dana White cuts fighters who are showing wear.Sometimes its 3 losses and goodbye.
    These are young guy sports and certainly sports science and nutrition have allowed Vitali,Hopkins,Tarver and a few others to remain at a high level at 40 and over.However this is not the norm.
    The sad thing is that James Toney already has displayed severe slurring and has probably fought 10 fights too many.
    Why do promoters and commissions let these guys fight?When Ali fought Holmes,medical tests showed his reflexes were way below that of an average adult.Also he was so weakened by weight loss medication that it is rumoured that he was battling to even climb into the ring during sparring sessions.
    Similarly Toney is a walking health disaster and it is shocking how he is allowed to fight on-sick

  2. the thresher 09:08am, 11/07/2011

    Peach, they see things differently than we do. It’s very sad, but mostly, they are the last ones to realize it’s over. And they are very difficult to convince.

  3. Juicy Peach 06:27am, 11/07/2011

    Thresher you know something, all of these washed-up guys should retire and just relax and enjoy life at this time.  If they keep fighting they can have problems with their brain; case in point, Riddick Bowe.  He can barely talk and I thought I saw something about him coming back.  I hope that’s not the case.  Have you heard Micky Ward’s speech?  Listen how slurred these guys speech are.  Older guys should get out of boxing before something drastic happens to them.  If it was my husband I would point out all of the dangers he could face.  But I quess they are looking at the money they could make.  Instead of looking at the money they could make they should be looking at it health wise.  Isn’t one’s health more important?!!

  4. MRBILL-HARDCORE XXX 03:33pm, 11/06/2011

    In a way, I am not really bummed that I have missed most of the recent boxing on cable / PPV…...... They have all been sucking pool stick…....... I think “Mayrunner-Ortiz” was the last fiasco I watched….... YAWN!

  5. the thresher 02:00pm, 11/06/2011

    Peach, I agree. It was another sad spectacle.

  6. Juicy Peach 01:28pm, 11/06/2011

    It’s now time for Glen Johnson to hang up the gloves!  Carl Froch took all of the steam out of the “Road Warrior”; he has gone over the hill.  Glen don’t look back, you had a great run and every fight you lose you say you won the fight.  I was ashamed of Glen when he raised his hand in victory when it seemed he was scared to hit Lucian Bute.  That was the sorriest fight I’ve ever seen Glen in.  I could not believe he couldn’t hit the man.  Only thing Glen did was paw with his jab and thought he won the fight on that alone.  Glen, Carl Froch took all of the juicies out of you and now is the time to give it up.  You fought like an old man last night.  I was embarrased for you.  Give it up and call it quits!!

  7. MRBILL-HARDCORE XXX 05:43pm, 11/05/2011

    ‘Tis nothing new about a so-so fighter or a bullshit artist in the gym or at work teaching because he cannot actually fight or operate himself…... I’ve worked with lotsa’ over-paid talkers who swear to know everything, yet never twitch a muscle in the trenches….. Freddie Roach was a good club-fighter who retired with a modest pro record, while Kevin Rooney was waxed by Arguello on TV in 1982 at 140 pounds….. That’s the only time I saw Rooney fight…. That was enough for me…..

  8. Gajjers 05:00pm, 11/05/2011

    Spot on, thresher… I didn’t think much of Kevin Rooney as a fighter either, but I sure did love what he brought to Tyson’s game, the success of which Roach couldn’t duplicate later in Tyson’s career. On the other hand, that style didn’t work quite as well for Vinny Pazienza when Rooney took over, so I guess there’s a lot more that goes into a great boxer/trainer pairing than meets the eye…

  9. the thresher 04:50pm, 11/05/2011

    Good point, Gajjers. Roach wasn’t a great fighter but he sure can train.

  10. Gajjers 04:44pm, 11/05/2011

    @Juicy Peach - yeah, it would be nice to see our gladiators hang ‘em up before the sport does ‘em in, but we both know better, don’t we? I suppose it’s that very quality (stubbornness/ refusal to quit) that made them that special in the first place. By the way, very few superb athletes become excellent teachers of their discipline - they probably expect equal talent and/or dedication from their protégés & lose patience with the lesser lights. I hope I’m wrong in Toney’s case…

  11. Juicy Peach 04:11pm, 11/05/2011

    Jofre, Thresher and Gajjers, you guys hit Toney on the head!  He has been done for some years now.  His mind says he can still do it but that body just ain’t having it!  It’s time for him to retire like four years ago.  He should be ready to retire and stop all of those big bombs he’s been taking.  I’m sure he loves the sport but should not let it kill him.  He should now be training; put all of that experience to work on the other side of the ring.  He would make a great trainer.  His trainee would be a good boxer when he finishes with him.  He is best served on the outside of the ring instead of in it.

  12. jofre 12:41pm, 11/05/2011

    Toney wants a rematch. He is delusional. It’s sad that fighters like Toney and Holyfield just can’t let go.

  13. the thresher 08:35am, 11/05/2011

    Not really, Mate. I was being kind. He had nothing. No reflexes, no balance, no defense, no power. Just Guts.

    It was a sad and almost disgraceful fight.

    To watch a guy like Leb beat him was just plain terrible. But God forbid if he were to meet someone with heavier hands and who would not back off like Lebedev likes to do. James needs to quit NOW!!!

  14. Gajjers 08:26am, 11/05/2011

    LOL, ‘Thresher’... 100% shot? Wow, that’s a bit harsh, isn’t it? Now, who on earth is gonna tell James to hang ‘em up? He or she had better do it by e-mail…

  15. the thresher 08:07am, 11/05/2011

    The real story is that he is 100% shot.

  16. Juicy Peach 07:24am, 11/05/2011

    I could have told James “Lights Out” Toney he could not win that fight!  He doesn’t realize that he has gotten older and too fat.  Yes, in his mind he still has what he used to but his body says something else.  Toney everyone in there older days aren’t the same.  Some can still do some of what they used to do as younger and some can not.  There’s nothing to be ashamed about getting old and can’t do the things you used to do.  Thank God you are still young enough to live out the rest of your years in good health.

  17. Gajjers 06:00am, 11/05/2011

    Very sad indeed, ‘Big Boss Man’, but only if you’re talking about Joe Frazier’s current condition. Now that’s a man who squeezed out all he could from what he was gifted with. Wish you well Joe… Toney, at certain (prolonged) points in his career, took his talent a bit too much for granted, which resulted in some very strange performances (e.g. Dave Tiberi). Haven’t seen the fight, but certain fans are claiming the leg injury had at least as much to do with his performance as what he has left as a fighter. What’s the real story, boxing gurus?

  18. Big Boss Man 05:44am, 11/05/2011

    very sad

  19. the thresher 05:35am, 11/05/2011

    Raxman, I saw him shut out the highly touted Cuban Yordanis Despaigne, and that sold me on him. He has old school moves that are incredible.

  20. the thresher 04:50am, 11/05/2011

    Toney’s latest quote which is not all that bad:

    ““Denis Lebedev is a great fighter. But he never hurt me. Injury is what hurt me more than anything else. I strained my knee in the second round and this affected my performance tonight. I had no excuses though – it was an honest victory. I also want to thank Agalarov Estate for its tremendous support and hospitality.”
    “I wish Denis would take on Marco Huck next. If not, it will be interesting to see him against the WBC champion. As for Antonio Tarver, I’m positively sure that Lebedev would knock him out.”
    “James Toney ain’t finished yet. I’ll be back when I’m healed. I have lots of things to do and a lot of people on my wish list.”

  21. MRBILL-HARDCORE XXX 02:24am, 11/05/2011

    The New York Times says Joe Frazier is deathly ill with liver cancer, such as Michael Dokes…... Frazier is supposedly living on borrowed time at age 67….. Hmmmm…. I just saw that today…..

  22. BoxAnne 02:15am, 11/05/2011

    Everyone kept saying going in that he might do OK because he lost a lot of weight, and all I could think of was RJJr.  Same thing, as I’d feared.

  23. MRBILL-HARDCORE XXX 11:31pm, 11/04/2011

    Bad-ass mutha’s like, “Archie Moore, Foreman, Duran, B-Hops, Holy, Holmes, Toney and V.K.” do not grow on trees….... Them dude’s are of a rare breed…..... They’ve all had some success in their 40s…..

  24. MRBILL-HARDCORE XXX 11:27pm, 11/04/2011

    Yeah, I saw it coming…. When I was younger, say 23 to 35, I often picked the aging fighter cuz of my heart, soul and desire, but my brain wasn’t there…... Now that I am 44 yrs old, I can understand that many aging warriors, 40 and over, can no longer maintain pace or keep up with a hot prospect of age 25 with talent and desire….... Toney is the latest to feel the pain of age…..

  25. raxman 09:08pm, 11/04/2011

    Ted i’m ashamed to admit i didnt know your boy sillakh - just spent 20 mins on youtube and i can see why you rate him so highly hard to get an idea from just the level of competition he has faced but watching the training videos as well makes me think you’re onto something with this guy - what’s his story?

  26. Cheekay Brandon 06:04pm, 11/04/2011

    I simply hope Toney is healthy and remains healthy. I am encouraged that he lost weight.

    Other than that—there is little bad to say about Toney’s career. He had a fantastic career. We can nitpick but 99.999% of guys to ever put on gloves would envy his career.

    His skill set was a job to watch. One of the most tactical and violent counter punchers I’ve ever seen. 

  27. the thresher 05:40pm, 11/04/2011

    Johnny, hard to say. He does slur, but I suspect it would be too early for dementia to appear. Just my opinion.

    I never had Toney down as a candidate, but I guess 80 fights adds up.

  28. johnwriter60 05:22pm, 11/04/2011

    SAD, SO SAD TO HAVE SKIDDED FROM GREATNESS SO FAST AND FAR OUT OF CONTROL. IS THERE ANY INDICATION OF DEMENTIA? OR MERELY AN “I DON’T CARE ANYMORE” SENSE THAT IS AS SELF-DESTRUCTIVELY DEADLY…

  29. the thresher 04:20pm, 11/04/2011

    Boxing never promised anyone a happy ending.

  30. TEX HASSLER 04:11pm, 11/04/2011

    I regret Toney had to end this way. Let us hope and pray that this was his last fight. He was a great fighter and he has nothing left to prove. James should have retired after beating Evander Holyfield and left on a high note. God bless you James and please hang up the gloves.

  31. the thresher 03:58pm, 11/04/2011

    You predicted this, MRBILL

  32. sthomas 03:40pm, 11/04/2011

    Didn’t watch but it’s sad to read about James Toney.  I sure hope he’s got some money so he doesn’t have to do this for a living any more.

  33. MRBILL-HARDCORE XXX 03:21pm, 11/04/2011

    Toney’s speech is horrible and he’ll never make it behind the mic for any major boxing network…. Dementia will likely play a role in his later years… The signs are there…..

  34. MRBILL-HARDCORE XXX 03:18pm, 11/04/2011

    Toney has been fading since 2006 when he struggled 2X against Sammy “The Porker” Peter…. His MMA jazz was a load of manure, too… Yes, Yes, Toney was once great and will be inducted up in New York someday, but his elite fighting nights are over…. Oh, I’ll bet Toney hangs around the game ‘till he’s 50 fighting guys who resemble ham and eggs in various tank towns across the nation…. Toney can’t do anything else…. WORD!

  35. the thresher 02:43pm, 11/04/2011

    When Roy lost that weight after beating Ruiz, he was done. Same for Page. And also Byrd. Losing weight too fast is a formula for disaster.

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