Saturday, August 26, 2006

Toney vs. Peter: Something old and something new

By JE Grant

When the grizzled veteran James “Lights Out” Toney comes face-to-face with the brutal punching Samuel “The Nigerian Nightmare” Peter September 2nd, he will, for the first time, meet a heavyweight fighter who always delivers blows with a gruesome intent.

Sure, Toney stopped an ancient Evander Holyfield. He also decisioned a light-hitting Rydell Booker. No one will forget his near-win over John Ruiz in which he out-boxed the then-titleholder only to be stripped of the win for cheating by way of steroids. He also won a point victory over hot-and-cold (mostly cold lately) Dominick Guinn. More recently of course he was the recipient of a gift draw after obviously falling behind then-titlist Hasim Rahman.

The one thing all of the heavyweight opponents that he actually defeated have in common is that none of them were legitimately ranked top 10 fighters. That’s correct, the illusion Toney created with his victory over the depleted Holyfield has for whatever reason stuck.

Even though a state commission verified the fact that he illegally used steroids before his fight with Ruiz, many still believe he would’ve won anyway. (This is a dubious claim in light of his abysmal performance against Rahman).

What allows the myth of Toney’s greatness at heavyweight to persist? His mouth primarily. Toney’s endless stream of invective --- while often meaningless drivel --- has some enamored with the entertainment quality of Toney’s presentation.

Couple that with his prior – and true – greatness in various weight classes and you have a highly ranked “contender.”

Toney’s record is littered with victories over talented foes: Vassily Jirov, Charles Williams, Doug DeWitt, Michael Nunn, Mike McCallum (twice), Iran Barkley etc…

Even in his losses to Montell Griffin (twice) and Drake Thadzi he wasn’t dominated.

Only his loss to Roy Jones Jr. could be described as lopsided.

Not bad for a 77 fight career.

The only problem with the list above, however, is that none of those top-level fighters were heavyweights (okay we know that Jones went on to experience one win in the division).

The key for Toney against Peter is to make that stream of talk and the vestiges of boxing ability that remain in his 38 year-old body work for him one more time. His 69-4-3, 1 NC (43 KOs) record indicates deep experience. It could also be indicative of a fighter on the end of the flickering flame.

Peter will almost surely test that body in a way that Toney has yet to endure.

The thickly muscled Nigerian is clearly intent on doing harm with every punch. Certainly it is the case that he does not possess the richly practiced artistry that Toney has achieved at key points of his career.

At 26-1 (22 KOs), the 25 year-old also does not have years of pounding on his 250 pound body.

Indeed it is normally Peter who does all the pounding. Except in his loss to Wladimir Klitschko, even in his decision wins Peter chased and chopped at opponents who were often afraid to engage his power.

One would think his clear loss to Klitschko would be devastating. Instead, it reinforced the fact that Peter could rap the top-level heavyweights and have effects. Klitschko tumbled to the canvas three times (it is true that a review of the tapes puts into question a couple of those knockdowns). Whatever the case, his heavy hands can do damage to the best in the division.

It also provided an opportunity to show what would happen when Peter was hurt. In the final round of the Klitschko match he was tired and stung but refused to go down. He also kept trying to win.

Until the Klitschko fight, Peter’s wins over the likes of Charles Shufford, Jeremy Williams, and Taurus Sykes led only to the conclusion that he was a top prospect, not a proven world-title contender.

His two wins since the Klitschko bout, over tough journeyman Robert Hawkins and the 7’1” Julius Long, did not add substantially to his resume, but showed an ability to come back from a tough loss.

The one primary difference in Peter’s ledger versus that of Toney’s is that all of his fights have been in the heavyweight class --- the very heavyweight class. Peter has obvious power and overall strength. He can also go the distance and bang hard in the later rounds.

On September 2nd it will likely be Peter’s combination of youth and power that will be served. Toney has proven clever against heavyweights to date that have not attacked with abandon and for whatever reason have chosen to attempt to out-slick the slickest of wily veterans.

Peter will not make that mistake – in fact he likely is not possessed with enough slick moves to attempt it. He will forge ahead and punch hard and often through the leaning, weaving and covering Toney. At times Peter will look silly as he misses wildly or is countered with three punch combinations. At other times, Peter will look as though he is crunching an ant as Toney slumps against the ropes in a shell.

James Toney will never go easily and he will have his moments in this fight. Look for him to gain position early and out-speed the lumbering Peter at ring center. As the fight progresses, however, his legs will falter and the strength of Peter will begin to take over.

Look for Toney attempt a rope-a-dope methodology only to see himself trapped by his own cleverness. As Peter wails away, Toney will melt in the middle rounds.

Toney, for the first time in his illustrious career, will be stopped by the young powerhouse as the referee steps in to save him.

PREDICTION: Samuel Peter by 7th round stoppage.


Blogger orltroy said...

I am still skeptical of Peter stopping Toney. Toney's claims of knocking Peter is an absolute joke, but Peter soesn't throw combos and telegraphs his powerful shots all the way across the Atlantic from Nigeria. Now I'm not big on Toney either and the fact that he is feather-fisted means he won't keep Peter off him at all, and Toney doesn't have legs to run on, but I think that Toney will have success in smothering Peter's punches and Peter will help him with that. The main thing going for Peter is Jesse Reid, and that is a big thing. I have yet to come to a conclusion on this bout.

9:39 PM  
Blogger JE Boxing said...

I think youth will be served.

10:14 PM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

I'm with Troy on this one. Completely. I haven't really made a decision here yet, and I won't be betting on this one! I think there is a chance JT just plain makes Sammy look STUPID. However, Toney's weight is just deplorable. I hope he DOES lose if he comes in over 230, and it looks like it's going to be 240+. The 38 is naturally a concern as well, as is the 5'10", but not as much as that damn number on the scale to me. He's pushed it to the limit - and BEYOND. I could possibly see him dropping a close decision by being outworked. Knocked out? Peter can can bomb JE, but I don't feel comfortable saying that. JT is just so skilled, hard to hit clean, and has a heck of a chin.

* I'm also a bit concerned about PETER'S weight. I think he would be best served in the 230's or 240's. If he comes in any heavier than 250 - I hope he loses too...

(Watch...It'll probably be a draw, DQ, or technical decision/no contest. LOL. It's a good matchup on paper, but I kinda get "bad vibes"...;-(

11:20 PM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

P.S- *Chuckle* You have picked JT to get KO'd so many times JE...I hope your right here! I'll be thinking about you. LOL...

* I'm still pissed at JT for the Ruiz thing, and then the Rahman fight. Had he been in the 2-teens or 220's in that fight - he would have WON a close decision.

11:23 PM  
Blogger orltroy said...

I actually hate and love this fight. Maskaev just proved how crappy Toney is as a heavyweight, but Peter is so flawed techniquely thats it's absolutely frustrating. The kicker for me might be that it is better for Boxing and the heavyweight division if Peter wins, and definitely if he wins by KO

1:07 AM  
Blogger JE Boxing said...

Cruiser -- I'm not sure Toney at any weight would've beaten Rahman. It is really possible that weight is no longer the major factor -- age is. One can't abuse one's body by ballooning so often. The toll comes due.

10:01 AM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

Spot-on Troy. My feelings exactly. JE - You may be right there, but...I don't think so. Clearly, age is not in JT's corner, but I really believe it is/was more the weight. You know...As soon as Toney moved to hvy, I KNEW this would eventually happen. I said to myself and others - "Watch...He came in at a good 217 here, but he will allow himself to get heavier and heavier, and will eventually be close to 250. He will push it to the limit - and then beyond." Another one was this (I love quoting myself, unless I'm flatt-ass wrong!) "The difference between JT weighing under or 230 for the Rahman fight, could be the difference between him WINNING a close decision, and LOSING one."

I think that's about exactly what happened. I only had JT losing by a slight margin in that fight, and I think a 2-teens or 220's Toney would have squeaked out a decision. The weight made him look terrible in that fight on occasion. Like an off-balance fat guy, simply put. He looked a bit like a darker, younger version of my old man out there! (lol)

P.S- Troy hit it on the spot. I have very mixed-feelings on this fight. It's between two legit top-10 contenders, so that's always great, but...If a 240-pound 38 yr.old JT wins the fight, it will be kind of 'semi-farcical', and leave me feeling completly 'flat'. If JT comes in that hvy, I truly hope he loses. I'm getting a bit sick of the OVERLY blown-up cruiserweight act as well...:-(

4:10 PM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

*Sidenote- Virtually no doubt in my mind that Toney was 'jucing' and/or doing an awful lot of weightlifting in his two fights before Ruiz. (Ironically, he just looked like he did alot of 'forklifting' in the Ruiz one.) Take a look at his physique for the Holyfield fight (217) and more importantly -- look at it in the Booker fight at 227.lbs. When I saw JT at that weigh-in -- my jaw almost dropped. He looked 'buffed', almost like a Mike Tyson. My dad and I both looked at each other in mild astonishment, and said to each other - "Boy, I never thought he could look quite like that..." Wanna know something funny? Honest to god, there was only ONE other time and fighter that we ever had that EXACT same reaction to.

Fernando Vargas in the ODLH fight.


4:57 PM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

Troy -- You are a bit more knowledgeable than I when it comes to medical matters (chuckle) I have a question: Was Toney's excuse for testing positive (injury treatment) for an anabolic steroid, even PLAUSIBLE? I truly don't know. But as much as I firmly believed that he didn't need roids to get up over 200.lbs and become a top-contending hvy (or esp beat Ruiz!) I didn't quite 'buy it' myself.

5:03 PM  
Blogger JE Boxing said...

Plausible or not, it certainly could've impacted his performance. Despite his protestations about not looking like someone on steroids -- the plain fact is that the effect of the drug is that it allows a person to work harder and longer and to recover more quickly than would be the case naturally. If you think about it, steroids can have a phenomenal effect on a boxer.

5:44 PM  
Blogger orltroy said...

Toney tested positive for Nandrolone, it's a steroid that is on steroids it's so powerful. Nandrolone is used to facilitate muscle growth in AIDs and Cancer patients to eleviate pain and postpone the inevitable. It is mainly used in AIDs patients though, and never have I seen or heard or any physician that I have talked heard of Nandrolone in a topical form, let alone used on joints to help heal tendons. Toney got busted cheating, it's just as if he had the needle in his ass at the time of testing. Toney flat out cjeated and that is why I was pissed he was allowed to fight Guinn period and to fight Rahman for another title.

7:10 PM  
Blogger JE Boxing said...

No one should doubt that the Ruiz fight is a tarnish on an otherwise stellar record.

7:18 PM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

Well said guys, especially Orltroy. Interestingly, I had heard rumours from a few pretty well-respected west coast guys BEFORE the Ruiz fight. Like I said; Toney DID have 'the look' in that Booker fight. The Ruiz one he didn't, but hey...He had probably cut back on the weightlifting in the months prior, and was also a bit heavier.

Like I said; I don't think JT needed roids to beat Ruiz. But my hunch is that he did it knowingly, and it wasn't the first time.

9:02 PM  
Blogger orltroy said...

I think Jones was on roids as well when he knocked off Ruiz. Jones was busted for roids after his fight with Richard Hall back in 01' I believe. The Indiana state comission caught him. I wrote a piece a while back on roids, and it wasn't favorably received amongst boxing editors. Several sites turned it down afraid of reprecussions and of course ESB was one of them. Actually Boxingtalk ran it. imagine that.

9:06 PM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

I'm familar with the piece Troy, and it was a solid one. I tend to disagree about Jones though, but hey...It wouldn't shock me. I looked into the Hall incident pretty extensively at the time, and it was a bit bizzare. They actually BOTH tested positive for a minute TRACE of steroids. The only thing that Jones said, was that he was taking in over-the-counter supplement called "Ripped Fuel". Now, it is a proven fact that in the unregulated world of supplements (esp. in the 90's) they could become 'cross-contaminated', and contain traces of steroid. Ripped Fuel was one of them. But besides that, the whole situation and quality control of the tests in that state (I can't recall which one...Indiana?) was a bit murky and 'hokey'. It was funny, Hall went beserk afterwards and accused Jones of being a cheater. And then he was told that HIS test ALSO came up positive (Something you rarely hear mentioned) for a trace amount as well, he went beserk at the TESTERS!

Anyways, it was the absolute only time he even tested positive for a miniscule level, and the whole thing was a bit bizarre.

10:10 PM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

Oh, if Sammy Peter comes in any heavier than 250 -- I hope that piece-of-s*it loses to.

I just thought I would say that. I think I already have, but I wanted to say it again.

10:14 PM  
Blogger orltroy said...

Wow I have done a fair amount of looking into the Jones incident and never and I mean never came across a piece that spoke about Hall testing positive as well. I question the entire rip fuel theory and the fact that Jones put on so much solid muscle in very little time for the Ruiz match that has mean wondering, but like I have said before, why the hell do people need to cheat to defeat John Ruiz? I can't fathom that.

12:42 AM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

Yep......As for Hall, T-R-U-E. As for Jones "putting on that much muscle in that short amount of time", I have to kind of disagree, T.O. Jones has ALWAYS been "ripped", and after about 25 - has always walked around at a VERY solid 180's. So he worked out with Shilstone for MONTHS beforehand, and came in a a ripped but slightly bigger 193 for Ruiz? Didn't surprise me at all, actually. Did seeing Vargas before the ODLH fight, and Toney before the Booker one surprise me? Or seeing the sudden transformation of Bonds and a few other ballplayers? Yep. But not Jones, nor Holyfield when he moved up to hvy. Those guys were ALWAYS muscular and with athletic builds, they just pumped some iron and put on a bit of size and extra muscle and strength.

2:49 AM  
Blogger orltroy said...

You have a very valid point about him being only at 193 at the feasibility of it being natural. maybe I should change my tune a bit and iterate my feelings that his decline directly afterward on how he ahd to lose so much weight and it drained him was a fallacy. His rapid decline in strentgh and speed has more tell tale signs of roid use than does his weight gain. Listern if a man reguraly walks around at 180's and makes the 147 limit and feels no effect (Carlos Baldomir) than a fine-tuned athlete having to lose a couple of regular pounds to make 175 when they are 193 or even 185 doesn't hold as much "weight" as an argument.

7:12 AM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

Well...Jones had 'muscled up' to the 190-200 area, and I don't doubt at all that it was difficult to just 'take off' in the few months prior to Tarver 1. But in my opinion, there are so many fallacies, misconceptions, and 'cock-eyed' theories in regards to Jones's "mysterious" demise -- it annoys me. First off, he WON the first Tarver fight. Yes, close and debatable, but a win. From that point on - by RJ's own admission - he never had significant difficulty making 175, and once again walked-around in the 180's. Personally, I don't think it was "steroids", "weight loss", or the shadowy figure in the area of the grassy knowl that was behind his decline, but two relatively simple things: #1-Jones was always fundamentally flawed, but in his 20's and early 30's - he could get away with it. #2 - AGE. Once again; A-G-E. There is really nothing "mysterious" about a fighter going downhill in his mid-30's. The Hopkins and Toneys are the exception to the rule, and they both posess solid fundamentals, and great chins. Jones -- didn't. Stop and think about it...Where were the VAST majority of all-time great middles/lt.hvy's at 35? Answer; the "easy chair" (retired) or the CANVAS. Look at the sudden shellacking Leonard took at that age. Also, Jones ran into a couple of good lt.hvy's as well. I always felt like Jones was virtually 'unbeatable' at 160 & 168, but not so at 175.

* Jones was (and still is, he won all 12 in his last fight) fast, just not the lightning-fast reflexes of his youth. Nothing really too puzzling there. Anyways, Jones had a bit of an 'odd' career and ending to be certain...But really not THAT odd.

9:16 PM  
Blogger orltroy said...

I see your point and most defintely have to respect it. Flawed he most definitely was, but speed masks that at times. I'll side with you for now, but my suspicision will never shall linger.

9:27 PM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

Well, like I said, "It wouldn't absolutely shock me" (It NEVER does these days) but I honestly don't think that was the reason.

BTW- I just got the piece you sent Troy. I might hit FNN real quick-like this evening.

9:54 PM  
Blogger JE Boxing said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:29 AM  
Blogger JE Boxing said...

Whatever the case, I'm kind of glad that RJJ is no longer the center of attention. He really didn't bring a big number of fans to the scene and his fights rarely captivated audiences. He could've gone another direction and searched out only the best opponents (or at least among the top guys) in a couple of weight classes but he chose the path of least resistance for most of his title reigns. Obviously he was great and naturally blessed, but he never rose to the level of, say, ODLH because of his opponent selections.

11:29 AM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

Well...I SOMEWHAT disagree with that, J.E. What was R.J's level of opposition like, and how good was he? Well, he was good enough to beat not one but TWO or THREE hall of famers, and do it DECISEVELY.

No, make that "GREAT enough".

He also has a close victory over a good lt.hvy in Tarver late in his career, as well as some other good 175,168,and 160-pounders. He just made them LOOK like "nothing" when he was in his prime. As he did a dare-I-say legit top-10 HVY at the time in Ruiz. I've always said that if you were to compare it to horse racing, Ali & Frazier would be "Affirmed & Alydar", Bernard Hopkins would be "John Henry", and a prime Roy Jones?


11:27 PM  
Blogger JE Boxing said...

I agree that he belongs among the all-time greats. No doubt. However, he could've very well widened the separation between himself and the rest of the boxing world by insisting on fighting only the top guys. It would've also immeasureably increased his popularity and produced enormous $$$$$ for all involved.

7:35 AM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight said...



10:42 AM  
Blogger JE Boxing said...

A couple of shots on one of the networks would've made him a household word. As it is, the casual sports fan barely recognizes the name.

4:58 PM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

Well...Also, let's face it; Jones didn't have a personality that so much invoked feelings of adoration or hatred, ad it just did...General 'indifference'. In other words, he wasn't like a Delahoya, Leonard, Ali, or even a "dangerously compelling" figure like Tyson. His personality was arrogant, aloof, and very difficult to really 'attach' to.

10:38 PM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

Another guy that was a bit like that was Bob Foster. Never really endeared himself to the public. Of course, being slightly homely/scary looking, and fighting at lt.hvy in the 60's & 70's (Kind of "yesteryear's cruiserweights") didn't help him much either. Incidentally, you may have heard me say the foloowing before; "There is not a single fighter in HISTORY that I would bet/pick against the 25-30 yr.old Jones, and between 160-168." Not so at lt hvy though. I don't even have him in my top-5 or 6 there.

* One of the most underrated middleweights ever? MIKE MCCALLUM. He - along with Eder Jofre and Ricardo Lopez - are probably the three most 'underappreciated' greats in history.

11:25 PM  
Blogger JE Boxing said...

Foster is a good guy --- I think that if he were fighting today he may be a PPV kind of superstar. His big failing was trying to compete with the heavyweights. He perhaps wouldn't feel the $$$ need of going to the heavyweights were he fighting now.

11:25 AM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

Foster undoubtedly one of the best lt.hvy's ever, and perhaps even arguably the best. He didn't so much KO guys, as he did practically decapitate them. He was just SCARY. And yeah, he really only faltered at hvy. Part of the problem was that while the guy was about 6'2" or 6'3", he could eat all he wanted and still only get up to about the upper 180's. (Great 'problem' to have! lol) Even to this day as a retired old feller in New Mexico he is probably about 190 or 200 at the absolute most, I would say. Yeah, Big Bob would definetly be kicking ass at lt.hvy today, possibly cruiser (weightlifting perhaps?) but would fare very well at hvy. Ditto for all three with Michael Spinks as well, another guy I have in my all-time top 5 or 6 lt.hvy's. (In no particular order - Moore, Charles, Foster, Conn, Spinks, Tunney.)

1:44 AM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

Typo: WOULDN"T fare very well at hvy today. (Spinks would fare a little better at hvy.)

1:46 AM  
Blogger JE Boxing said...

Remember that Charles beat Moore 3 out 3 times.

8:05 PM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

Oh yeah...That's why it's so tough to even try and put that group in 'order'! In other words, if you were to have a tourney with those six, I think it's very likely that fighter A beats fighter B, but then loses to fighter C, and so on.

1:05 AM  
Blogger JE Boxing said...

I'm not sure anyone on the list could've beaten Michael Spinks.

4:21 PM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

Well...Spinks was without a doubt a GREAT lt.hvy. My inkling may be to say Foster though. But it's tough!

6:59 PM  
Blogger JE Boxing said...

You could be right. Foster was a crippling puncher. A very close friend of mine, who fought under the name Brian Kelly, once challenged Foster for the LH title. He said that every shot was sharp -- he didn't even remember the last round of the fight.

7:35 PM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

I was at my dad's place earlier (he lives on a lake) and saw one of those Cranes (big birds). That's Foster! Only the crane has a switchblade on one side, and a brick in the other! Foster was scary indeed...

* A few years ago, some young punk decided to try and mug a recently retired 60-something New Mexico Sherriff. Not a wise move for the youngster. The old fellers name?

Bob Foster.

(BOOM! Sit down, son...LOL)

9:01 PM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

(As truly great as I think Jones was at 160 & 168, I think Foster would have taken his head off at 175, J.E. As a matter of fact, due to the styles and chins, I think Toney would have stood a better chance. Maybe even Hopkins.)

I think Toney could have been one of the greatest 200-pounders in history. I said at the time that I thought he should have moved straight to cruiser after the Jones loss, but obviously I understand the financial part. I also rank Mike McCallum as one of the all-time best middleweights as well, incidentally.

9:07 PM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

*As many compelling fantasy 'mini-tourneys' as the minds-eye could envision, that 6-man lt.hvy one may be my personal favorite. I would do that one 'round-robin' style, as well!

11:02 PM  
Blogger JE Boxing said...

A guy like Foster will have solid punch until the day he passes from this world. Can you imagine trying to mug George Foreman at age 55????? Fat chance.

4:59 PM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

My dad loves it when some old guy knocks the piss out of some young guy...(LOL) He loved watching Foreman, Holmes, and even Duran when he was in his 40's. As long as they 'held their own', it was okay. He used to always say - "Imagine what he would have dodne to this guy if he was in his 20's or 30's!!!???

He even loved watching a 50 or 55 yr.old Holmes beating Butterbean for 10 rounds with one hand. ("I don't care if it's Butterbean, any time a guy in his 50's beats a decent club-fighter in his 20's or 30's - and with one hand - it's impressive and enjoyable!")

LOL...*shakes head*...But kinda true!

1:43 AM  

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