By Jerry Magee
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
July 16, 2008
TEMECULA – “Lights Out” never was apt as a reference to James Toney. More than turning out the lights for his opponents, his genius was keeping them on for himself with his defensive mastery.
AdvertisementAt least once more, the 39-year-old gets to demonstrate these skills at the Pechanga Resort and Casino this evening when he opposes 32-year-old Hasim “Rock” Rahman in a scheduled 12-round heavyweight bout that has been titled “Last Chance.” Fox Sports Net has the telecast, starting at 8.
Might this be Toney's final appearance as a fighter of consequence? “I'll be able to answer Wednesday,” said promoter Dan Goossen, “but people are still hesitant to fight him. They say fighters never lose their power, and I don't think James has ever lost his ability to be hard to hit.”
Toney's expertise is his knack of being able to narrow his silhouette “in the pocket,” meaning in close, which limits what there is of him to hit. Few fighters can do this. Floyd Mayweather was one before he announced his retirement.
“Toney is a throwback fighter,” said Rahman (45-6-3, with 36 knockouts). “He fights like the heavyweights of the '40s, '50s and '60s. Like Jersey Joe Walcott, Ezzard Charles, Eddie Machen and those guys. Good defense. Knows how to fight. I'll be ready for him. We had that 12-round experience together.”
In March 2006 in Atlantic City, N.J., in a bout for the WBC heavyweight title, Rahman boxed to a draw with Toney (70-6-3, 43 KOs). One judge had Rahman a 117-111 winner. The other two judges scored it 114-114. A title also is at stake tonight, but it is a minor one – the NABO heavyweight belt.