He is a former middleweight, super middleweight, and cruiserweight champion. He holds a current record of 72-6-3, with 44 of his wins coming by KO.
When the closest I knew about mixed martial arts was from Cobra Kai in The Karate Kid, boxing was my sport. Posters of fighters such as Meldrick Taylor, Hector “Macho” Camacho, and James “Lights Out” Toney plastered my walls. Before the UFC, PRIDE, and K1, boxing was the pugilist sport of my youth, and Toney was one of favorites.
Recently, Toney has been campaigning to become a UFC fighter. Toney attended UFC 107 in an attempt to contact UFC President Dana White in hopes of negotiating a contract. He again showed up at UFC 108, which started prompting responses from White, “He’s stalking me, man,” jokingly. “I don’t know. He and I are gonna sit down and talk this evening. He looks good though.”
White also went on to say he would be the first one to get blasted for signing the former boxing champ, “I’m the first guy out there going, ‘This is a f**king freak show. Who would put on a fight like that?” said White. “But I gotta tell you this. (Toney’s) a guy I actually respect. He’s tough as nails. He’s mean. He’s nasty. (But) he better get in shape if he wants to come in here and do this stuff.”
Then after weeks of “stalking” the UFC president, an actual offer was made to Toney and he turned it down. In an interview following the offer, Toney was quoted as saying, “Dana Whites first offer was a joke and that let me know he really don’t wanna do this.” Without disclosing the actual amount offered, he went on to say, “…this offer was laughable. That’s why I wanted the camera guy in the room with us when I sat down with Dana, so the fans would know I was serious and if it didn’t happen, it wasn’t because of me.”
Now Toney has most recently taken his campaign to the internet, posting videos on YouTube. In the videos he’s calling out former champions, Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture, and even Kimbo Slice, to whom Toney refers to as Simba (from the Lion King).
Now I’m the first to say there is no gain for MMA in letting a 41 year old ex-boxer with no professional MMA experience step onto the biggest stage in this sport. With only boxing credentials to his name, he would most likely fail miserably against any legit opponent, but the selfish side of me thinks a bit different.
Toney was one of the most feared fighters back in the 1990’s, he has secured his spot in the boxing hall of fame. Would he have a chance against someone like Kimbo Slice? The trash talking has already started on Toney’s end, and the “freak-show” factor can apply to both men. In a fight that would most certainly not go to the ground, Toney would at least have a punchers chance against Slice. And even at 41, I’m sure he still has the power to do it.
From a promoters standpoint it’s even more appealing. If Kimbo wins, it proves the UFC president right by saying MMA is far beyond boxing. If Toney wins, it breaks barriers for scores of boxers stuck in a sport that doesn’t carry the luster it once did. Not to mention the publicity. If you think Kimbo against (opponents name here) is a huge pay-per-view draw, imagine the coverage of a former boxing champion fighting him.
Thinking beyond my own sentimental wishes of this fight, it does nothing to help bolster mixed martial arts. This would be nothing but a side show attraction, with no legitimate cause, other than sales. But from the fan I was of boxing, to the MMA fanatic I am today, this is one match-up I would like to see.