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James Toney Is Back, Buddy McGirt’s Got Him



It was early Friday morning as we walked into a busy Burbank fitness club and saw 12-time world champion James “Lights Out” Toney writhing in pain as a bone and joint therapist twisted and turned the boxing legend’s joints and limbs.

“Arrrgh,” were Toney’s first words as he lay on the stretching table and looked up to acknowledge our presence. “He’s killing me.”

Toney’s getting ready for a return to the boxing ring and to defend the IBA heavyweight title against Damon Reed (45-14, 32 KOs) in a 12-round bout at San Manuel Casino on Feb. 24. The last time Toney stepped in a ring was 17 months ago when he knocked out Matt Greer in two rounds.

“I got to get back in shape,” said Toney (72-6-3, 44 KOs) after the grueling stretch session by Dan Holbert,  a fitness trainer who works with NFL players too. “I need to lose weight.”

The former junior middleweight, middleweight, super middleweight, cruiserweight and current IBA heavyweight world champion is working feverishly to get into fighting shape. That includes training sessions in the morning and evening and sparring sessions during the afternoon.

On this particular Friday afternoon Toney walked into famed trainer James “Buddy” McGirt’s new gym in West Los Angeles; he indicated to me they will now work together.

“We’ll work something out,” said McGirt, who was formerly in Florida where he built a large roster of fighters to train.

Immediately Toney was in the boxing ring sparring with one of McGirt’s fighters, a Cuban cruiserweight whose name nobody seemed to know. Both traded blows as the taller and slender boxer stepped in and out careful not to receive one of Toney’s patented counters.

After several rounds of sparring the session was over. Toney asked McGirt what he wanted him to do and the trainer pointed toward the heavy bag.

“I don’t do heavy bags,” exclaimed Toney, 42. “Heavy bags don’t hit back.”

Everybody laughed. Good point.

McGirt nodded and kind of laughed at Toney’s boxing philosophy.

“You know we could have fought each other if you moved up one division,” said Toney to McGirt, laughing. “I would have whipped your ass.”

“You couldn’t have beat me,” said McGirt. “Maybe in Michigan, even then you would have got a split decision.”

The whole gym erupted in laughter. Even Toney got a good laugh at that one.

Toney and McGirt will be teaming up; two ring legends with enough experience to fill their own boxing encyclopedia. But will it work?

McGirt said working with Toney should be easy because of his vast experience as a fighter. Aside from a few things here and there he sees no problems other than getting Toney in fighting shape.

“He hasn’t fought in a year and a half,” McGirt said. “He’s a little rusty.”

Long sabbaticals have been a constant problem for Toney, whose skills and experience tend to scare off opponents looking to grab a heavyweight shot. One thing that’s clear is when he weighs less than 220 he’s a dangerous heavyweight. Knockout wins over Greer and Evander Holyfield came at 217 pounds.

Toney’s last actual prize fight took place in mixed martial art’s Octagon when he fought former MMA heavyweight champion Randy “The Natural” Couture and lost this past summer.

“I made a mistake and he took advantage of it. Lost by a heel hook,” said Toney about the submission loss in UFC. “I asked him to fight me in my world like I fought him in his world. But he don’t want to take it. That’s OK.”

Recently there was banter between Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Toney. Words were heated and it looked like something might come of it.

“I think Dana White made him cool it,” says Toney. “I haven’t heard anything in a while. Rampage aint talking no more.”

For 10 months Toney invested all of his time working on MMA. Now he’s back in a boxing ring and anxious to fight and defend the IBA title.

“I never left boxing,” said Toney, who sparred on Friday in West L.A. at McGirt’s gym. “I’m defending the IBA title. People say it’s not a well-known title but the title don’t make the fighter, the fighter makes the title.”

The for certain Hall of Fame prizefighter is continuing his run to fight the best heavyweights in the world, including Riverside’s Chris “The Nightmare” Arreola. A win over Reed could propel a showdown between the two marquee heavyweights.

“The Klitschko sisters don’t want to fight me and that other so-called champion David Haye is a clown,” says Toney.

One thing is certain with Toney, when he’s around boxing is a little more interesting.

“He’s back in boxing where he belongs,” McGirt said.

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2015 Fight of the Year – Francisco Vargas vs Takashi Miura



The WBC World Super Featherweight title bout between Francisco Vargas and Takashi Miura came on one of the biggest boxing stages of 2015, as the bout served as the HBO pay-per-view’s co-main event on November 21st, in support of Miguel Cotto vs Saul Alvarez.

Miura entered the fight with a (29-2-2) record and he was making the fifth defense of his world title, while Vargas entered the fight with an undefeated mark of (22-0-1) in what was his first world title fight. Both men had a reputation for all-out fighting, with Miura especially earning high praise for his title defense in Mexico where he defeated Sergio Thompson in a fiercely contested battle.

The fight started out hotly contested, and the intensity never let up. Vargas seemed to win the first two rounds, but by the fourth round, Miura seemed to pull ahead, scoring a knock-down and fighting with a lot of confidence. After brawling the first four rounds, Miura appeared to settle into a more technical approach. Rounds 5 and 6 saw the pendulum swing back towards Vargas, as he withstood Miura’s rush to open the fifth round and the sixth round saw both men exchanging hard punches.

The big swinging continued, and though Vargas likely edged Miura in rounds 5 and 6, Vargas’ face was cut in at least two spots and Miura started to assert himself again in rounds 7 and 8. Miura was beginning to grow in confidence while it appeared that Vargas was beginning to slow down, and Miura appeared to hurt Vargas at the end of the 8th round.

Vargas turned the tide again at the start of the ninth round, scoring a knock down with an uppercut and a straight right hand that took Miura’s legs and sent him to the canvas. Purely on instinct, Miura got back up and continued to fight, but Vargas was landing frequently and with force. Referee Tony Weeks stepped in to stop the fight at the halfway point of round 9 as Miura was sustaining a barrage of punches.

Miura still had a minute and a half to survive if he was going to get out of the round, and it was clear that he was not going to stop fighting.

A back and forth battle of wills between two world championship level fighters, Takashi Miura versus “El Bandido” Vargas wins the 2015 Fight of the Year.



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Jan 9 in Germany – Feigenbutz and De Carolis To Settle Score



This coming Saturday, January 9th, the stage is set at the Baden Arena in Offenburg, Germany for a re-match between Vincent Feigenbutz and Giovanni De Carolis. The highly anticipated re-match is set to air on SAT.1 in Germany, and Feigenbutz will once again be defending his GBU and interim WBA World titles at Super Middleweight.

The first meeting between the two was less than three months ago, on October 17th and that meeting saw Feigenbutz controversially edge De Carolis on the judge’s cards by scores of (115-113, 114-113 and 115-113). De Carolis scored a flash knock down in the opening round, and he appeared to outbox Feigenbutz in the early going, but the 20 year old German champion came on in the later rounds.

The first bout is described as one of the most crowd-pleasing bouts of the year in Germany, and De Carolis and many observers felt that the Italian had done enough to win.

De Carolis told German language website RAN.DE that he was more prepared for the re-match, and that due to the arrogance Feigenbutz displayed in the aftermath of the first fight, he was confident that he had won over some of the audience. Though De Carolis fell short of predicting victory, he promised a re-vamped strategy tailored to what he has learned about Feigenbutz, whom he termed immature and inexperienced.

The stage is set for Feigenbutz vs De Carolis 2, this Saturday January 9th in Offenburg, Germany. If you can get to the live event do it, if not you have SAT.1 in Germany airing the fights, and The Boxing Channel right back here for full results.


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2015 Knock Out of the Year – Saul Alvarez KO’s James Kirkland



On May 9th of 2015, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez delivered a resonant knock-out of James Kirkland on HBO that wins the 2015 KO of the Year.

The knock-out itself came in the third round, after slightly more than two minutes of action. The end came when Alvarez delivered a single, big right hand that caught Kirkland on the jaw and left him flat on his back after spinning to the canvas.Alvarez was clearly the big star heading into the fight. The fight was telecast by HBO for free just one week after the controversial and disappointing Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao fight, and Alvarez was under pressure to deliver the type of finish that people were going to talk about. Kirkland was happy to oblige Alvarez, taking it right to Alvarez from the start. Kirkland’s aggression saw him appear to land blows that troubled the young Mexican in the early going. Alvarez played good defense, and he floored Kirkland in the first round, displaying his power and his technique in knocking down an aggressive opponent.

However, Kirkland kept coming at Alvarez and the fight entered the third round with both men working hard and the feeling that the fight would not go the distance. Kirkland continued to move forward, keeping “Canelo” against the ropes and scoring points with a barrage of punches while looking for an opening.

At around the two minute mark, Alvarez landed an uppercut that sent Kirkland to the canvas again. Kirkland got up, but it was clear that he did not have his legs under him. Kirkland was going to try to survive the round, but Alvarez had an opportunity to close out the fight. The question was would he take it?

Alvarez closed in on Kirkland, putting his opponent’s back to the ropes. Kirkland was hurt, but he was still dangerous, pawing with punches and loading up for one big shot.

But it was the big shot “Canelo” threw that ended the night. Kirkland never saw it coming, as he was loading up with a huge right hand of his own. The right Alvarez threw cracked Kirkland in the jaw, and his eyes went blank. His big right hand whizzed harmlessly over the head of a ducking Alvarez, providing the momentum for the spin that left Kirkland prone on the canvas.

Saul “Canelo” Alvarez went on to defeat Miguel Cotto in his second fight of 2015 and he is clearly one of boxing’s biggest stars heading into 2016. On May 9th Alvarez added another reel to his highlight film when he knocked out James Kirkland with the 2015 “Knock Out of the Year”.

Photo by naoki fukuda


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