James Toney: Never Say Never!
By Jeff Mayweather (March 12, 2005) 
Photo © HoganPhotos.com
Earlier today I was reading where James Toney has been inked by Don King in order to fight John Ruiz for the WBA version of the heavyweight titles. When I read this bit of news, I was in complete shock; not by Don King's actions, because King is a businessman who doesn't take anything to heart as long as you can make him a dollar you're alright with him, (and there's nothing wrong with that), but James Toney is a whole different story.

I've watched James Toney speak horribly about Don King for many years, I distinctly remember him once saying that 'Don King ain't shit' and he could kiss his ass. Wow! What a difference a day make, or, let's be real, what a difference a dollar makes! James Toney is caught between a rock and a hard place and the only man left for him to deal with in order to fight for the heavyweight championship of the world is the same exact guy he told to kiss his ass and who he said wasn't shit. I guess it's fair to say that even a tough guy like Toney can be softened up.

I remember a phrase that former heavyweight champion Tony Tucker's dad, Bob Tucker, used to say, and it went something like this, "You are a sad rat when you only got one hole to go into and that one is clogged up!" In this case it could apply, meaning Toney couldn't solidify a fight with Klitschko, so he was sort of forced to make a deal with the 'Devil,' (according to James Toney). This is such a drastic turn around! If you were dealing solely on principals, Toney would not be taking this fight but at the end of the day James Toney has to eat and so does his daughter, and Toney wants nothing more than to become heavyweight champion of the world.

So, as it stands, Don King has the golden goose... well, not quite golden, but John Ruiz is the WBA Heavyweight Champion of the world. With King holding three fourths of the heavyweight titles, WBA, IBF AND WBO, what is a man to do, even a tough guy like James Toney?!? Boxing is James Toney's livelihood and I understand his position, I just hope that he doesn't instantly turn into one of King's pawns who can't wait to yell how Don King is the greatest promoter in all of boxing because that would be too much for me to handle.

I love James Toney as a fighter, and I even consider him a friend, but because King gives you a shot at the title doesn't really change what's deep down in your heart for this man or you wouldn't have said it every chance you got. Personally, I think Don King is a great promoter, especially when it comes to the heavyweight division. It seems as though he has almost every single champion, former champion, and retread in the division, so in order to become heavyweight champion your name will have to end up on a King contract. Love him or hate him, you have to sign with him if you want to the heavyweight champion of the world. Furthermore, if King could get James Toney to sign with him, no heavyweight on the planet is safe from his clutches, and to be quite honest, being in King's clutches could very well be the best thing to ever happen to some fighters.

I am extremely happy for Toney, a little disappointed that he didn't take a stand, but I completely understand his position. I wish Toney all the best in the world, be it with King or any other promoter. Toney can now, hopefully, fulfill a dream that he spoke about even when he was campaigning at middleweight. I guess it was inevitable that he would escalate to such high weight class since he was almost a heavyweight fighting in a middleweight's body.

How ironic that Toney will be fighting Ruiz who was conquered by Roy Jones Jr. who also conquered Toney, and Toney has never gotten that taste out of his mouth. In a sense there could be a sense vindication if he too were to become heavyweight champion after starting his career as a middleweight, then Toney will most likely once again bang the drum for Jones Jr. to come out of retirement. If he can't entice Roy, Toney will do what he does best, talk trash, just as he did about Don King.

James Toney, you gotta love him....
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