James Toney: The spotlight will be on ‘Lights out’
By Rob Scott (April 28, 2005) 
James ‘Lights out’ Toney
When people rant and rave about how good they are, a percentage of them do so not really believing there boasts, but actually are making an attempt to fool the masses and even themselves. It’s known that if something good or bad is said about someone enough times, the Jedi mind trick takes effect on people, as many start to believe. The flip side to that mental coin though is the saying “Real bad boys move in silence”. When it comes to James ‘Lights out’ Toney, 68-4-2 (43), his self-belief has been one of his sincerest traits, where you would be hard pressed to say that the first side to that coin was referring to him. He on the other hand just might agree with the other side of the coin, where yes, real bad boys may move in silence, but like an Ali reincarnated, Toney can’t stay silent, because he feels he is “A Bad Man”. This Saturday James Toney aims to show just how bad he really is as he challenges John ‘The Quiet man’ Ruiz, 41-5-1 (28), for his WBA heavyweight crown in boxing’s greatest arena Madison Square Garden.

To hear a fighter say that he or she is the best isn’t an abnormal occurrence. We all are use to hearing fighters say how their going to knock out everyone they face. This bravado is an inevitable before every James Toney fight, and why should this bout be any different? He told Roy Jones Jr. that he was going to “knock his punk ass out” before their 94’ bout; Evander Holyfield was told that he didn’t pay his light bill, so it would be lights out time for him in their 03’ bout; and now Ruiz is taking Toney’s verbal shots.

Toney’s skills have never been in question, his desire has. After his loss to Jones, many started to write Toney off because of that seemingly lack of desire and focus. When someone falls from grace, it is sometimes impossible to fully return. The Jones loss seems like a low point, with Toney trying to get back to the top of the mountain. The only part is it seemed as though Toney was content to find a convenient spot on the mountain side and just hang there by his ropes; making only small attempts to climb higher. In 03’ Toney got up off his roost and really ascended by defeating Vassily Jirov for the IBF Cruiserweight title and officially becoming a heavyweight and turning off Evander Holyfield’s lights.

Since his entrance into the division, Toney has made believers in his heavyweight credentials. But like anyone, he has his critics as well; John Ruiz is one. The defending champion’s take is a victory over Rydell Booker and ‘the name’ of Evander Holyfield doesn’t warrant Toney’s jump to the top spot. Make no mistake about it, between the two, his skill level just may be on the lower end, but Ruiz definitely has a puncher’s chance for Toney to be very concerned with. As awkward and unappealing as fans and fighters alike feel about Ruiz, ‘The Quiet man’ turns into the ‘Loud Man’ when he says he will show that Toney shouldn’t be in with the big boys.  

Toney says no matter what, he will be ready for any and everything Ruiz brings to the table. He has been a puncher as well as a boxer. Both are vital in this sport because of the harsh reality; the reality is, even if you are destroying your opponents as a puncher, one day you will run into someone that will take your punch – then you’re going to have to box. Even if you are outclassing your opponents with your boxing skills, one day you are going to run into someone that will be able to cut the ring off and neutralize your assets - you will have to plant your feet and fight. Toney has the gift to plant his feet and box as well as fight. Even with both, if you don’t have a chin, the sands will be running ever so rapidly through your career’s hourglass.  Ruiz thinks Toney won’t have a heavyweight chin and in this fight, his time will run out.

Hasim Rahman calls him ‘James Phony’, but like his past victim Toney believes he is the Real deal. The bottom line is the time for tough talk is over for Toney. There is the significant reality that he has had only  two noted heavyweight bouts against questionable foes in the last 17 months along with being coming off of an injury. From this angle Toney's chances may look dim, but definitely not to him; his sincere confidence still soars. He calls himself ‘Lights out’, but this Saturday James Toney plans to shine bright.

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