Clearing the boards
Boxer-turned-cage fighter James Toney chimes in on your message-board fodder.
By Lindsay Berra
ESPN The Magazine
This article appears in the August 23 issue of ESPN The Magazine.
UFC 118 will finally put an end to the MMA vs. boxing debate. Well, sort of. Former boxing champ James Toney, soon-to-be 42, will take on ex-UFC champ Randy Couture, 47, in an Aug. 28 pay-per-view/circus event that's guaranteed to generate buys and buzz. The buzz so far: Toney is going to get taken down and smashed on by the former All-America wrestler. Online bookies agree, making Toney an early underdog, huge odds for an MMA bout. We slammed Toney with five quotes about his chances -- three from MMA message boards, one from his new boss and one from his opponent -- and he hit us back. Hard.
"If this was a young boxer wanting to transition over to MMA, I'd understand, but it's an arrogant, old boxer looking for a paycheck." -posted on mmajunkie.com
Toney: I want to fight MMA because I'm the reigning IBA heavyweight champion of the world and I can't get a meaningful fight. Everyone has blocked me out. The UFC is the biggest thing out there now. I called Dana White, and he says MMA fighters are better than boxers. That's not true. Let's find out what you've got over there. I'm not a hater of MMA. I love anything with violence -- the more the merrier, for me. But I'm going to show everyone that boxing reigns supreme.
"Born fighters still have to train for all aspects of MMA. We know his hands are good, but his ground game is nonexistent." -posted on sherdog.net
Toney: I have MMA fighters and boxers in my camp. I'm not doing much jujitsu or Muay Thai. I'm working more on defensive mechanisms, movement and takedowns. I like the arm bar, and I like the rear naked choke. But if he shoots at me, I'll throw him an uppercut and a left hook. He can go however he wants, quietly and peacefully ... or very, very violently.
"Toney has never had a one-hitter quitter in any weight division, ever. That's not going to suddenly change with four-ounce gloves." -posted on bloodyelbow.com
Toney: When my trainer first gave me the four-ounce gloves, I said, 'Oh my god, I'm going to prison.' It's a much different feeling and it took me a bit to get used to it. But now I'm very fast with them. I know in my heart no one can stand in front of me and take my shots. If his jaw is exposed, it's gonna be lights out, time to pay the electric bill.
"We're going to make an example of James Toney." -UFC president Dana White
Toney: I'm glad Dana thinks that. After I'm done with Randy Couture, I'm knocking Dana's ass out because he's got a big mouth. I'll fold him like an accordion. I'll get him in the hallway without gloves. It's personal now. I know he has to talk big for his fighters and the MMA community, but I'm a whole different species. I'm one of the best fighters to ever put on gloves.
"Toney's been running his mouth, saying he's going to KO everybody. I'll be happy to welcome him to MMA." -Couture
Toney: I'm afraid Couture will pull out or not show up. The pain is coming. I love being in the cage. I'm a born animal, a rottweiler. I feel caged up and can't wait to be let loose.