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The Lights Are Out, James Toney No Longer Relevant

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Remember when James “Lights Out” Toney used to be a special fighter and marvel to watch? Toney had a pair of extremely quick hands and could really put some spectacular combinations together fighting as a counter-puncher. And when it came to taking a punch, Toney was as good as there's been. On top of that, if you were to make up a list of fighters with the highest boxing IQs in history, Toney would have to be included on the list, and much closer to the top of it than the bottom. James was always loose and relaxed in the ring and fought with supreme confidence. He also fought the best boxing had to offer during his generation, and his post fight  interviews were pretty good too.

James Toney was boxing's version of Charles Barkley and one never knew what he was going to say because everyone and everything was fair game to him. And like Barkley, Toney has said some really ridiculous things that went virtually unchallenged by the media and writers who covered the NBA and professional boxing.

In less than two weeks Toney, 72-6-3 (44) will fight under the Marques of Queensberry rules for the first time in 17 months. The last time Toney was seen fighting, he lost in the Octagon by submission to MMA legend Randy Couture five months ago. The fact that Toney lost to Couture didn't come as a surprise to anyone. What it showed was Toney who weighed in at 217 for his last fight versus Matthew Greer, took MMA even less seriously than he has boxing when he weighed almost 235 when he challenged Couture. Then again would it surprise anyone that Toney would play LeBron James in a game of one-on-one if it was for the same money he was paid to tangle with Couture? And he'd boast how he was going to school LeBron until it was over, then he'd blame the officials after he lost.

It's been over seven years since James Toney was a factor in boxing. That's right, you have to go all the way back to November of 2003, the night he stopped Evander Holyfield in one of the stellar showings of his career. In fact Holyfield, who's still actively fighting, was finished and a non-factor on the heavyweight scene four years before he fought Toney. Actually, Evander is the only active big name fighter who is more irrelevant than Toney in 2011.

Toney's opponent on February 24th is 39 year old cruiserweight/heavyweight Damon Reed, 45-14 (32). And as usual Toney is saying all the right things in the leadup to the fight. Things like he's never left boxing and he's training his butt off. Which has about as much merit as him saying the top heavyweights in the world are afraid to get in the ring with him. These proclamations should ring hollow with all sophisticated boxing fans. The reality is no one who has money to spend to buy a ticket takes Toney seriously, simply based on his body of work over the past seven years.

Toney, 42, loves to refer to the Klitschko brothers as the Klitschko sisters, with the hope of convincing the boxing public they fear him, or perhaps in the back of his mind he believes he can talk himself into a bout against one of them. Not a chance. Why would Wladimir or Vitali Klitschko fight a 5' 9″ heavyweight who isn't ranked and couldn't beat Hasim Rahman convincingly in two fights, or even get by Samuel Peter once in two fights, almost five years ago? Did it slip his mind that Wladimir took Rahman apart before he stopped him, and both brothers pitched virtual shutouts versus Peter before they stopped him?

Sure, styles make fights and just because the Klitschkos handled Rahman and Peter easier than Toney did, doesn't mean that both brothers would toy with Toney. Oh, but they would. The fact is James Toney not only couldn't compete with either Wladimir or Vitali, he doesn't have tool one to beat them, and would stink the venue out if he fought either of them. Even if he could get to Wladimir's chin, he lacks the punch to even faze him, let alone rattle him. And he'd never get close to clipping Vitali and would take a ceaseless pummeling until the referee stopped the fight. And if you're thinking Toney could get past David Haye, I'd jump at the chance to lay whatever the Vegas odds were on Haye.

There was a time when James Toney was one of the greatest pound-for-pound boxers/fighters in the world. However, those days are long gone and they are never going to be rekindled. James is still a character and talks a great game, but he more resembles an empty wagon. His boxing acumen and cast iron chin are the reasons why he's never been hurt or taken a beating in the ring. Make no mistake, even at almost 43, he can still protect himself while in the ring. The reality is, he can keep his opponent from beating him up. It's just that he can only fight three or four noteworthy rounds of a 12-round bout against today's best heavyweights, thus killing any chance he'd have to win a decision.

It might be a while before anyone administers Toney a serious beating in the ring, but the days of him administering one versus an upper-tier heavyweight died in the ring the night he fought Evander Holyfield. Toney's WWE act has run it's course and he's now just a footnote in boxing lore, and not even close to a serious heavyweight contender.

Frank Lotierzo can be reached at GlovedFist@Gmail.com

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2015 Fight of the Year – Francisco Vargas vs Takashi Miura

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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

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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

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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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