With a professional boxing record of 72-6-3, Toney is one of the most accomplished boxers of this, and any, generation. Titles in the middleweight, super middleweight, cruiserweight, and heavyweight divisions have all been claimed by “Lights Out” Toney.
Although boxers have made their way into MMA prior to this, none of them have had a resume the likes of Toney.
Just a few hours after the signing was announced, word got out that the champion boxer hired world famous boxing and MMA Coach Juanito Ibarra to help prepare him for his MMA debut
Bleacher Report spoke to Ibarra and he weighed in on his and Toney’s business partnership and what they intend to do.
“We get along real well. He’s a great student. He considers me a teacher. Hopefully this chemistry that we have can carry us to a title in MMA.”
Yes, an MMA title.
According to Ibarra, Toney is taking this transition as serious as anyone can take it and plans to, one day, contend for a championship strap. Some of the toughest competition in MMA wanders around the UFC’s heavyweight and light heavyweight divisions, so a climb to the title will be no easy road for the boxing great.
When asked of what he expects of Toney’s MMA career accomplishments, Juanito knows that his fighter‘s mind frame is one that will serve him well against the UFC competition.
“James Toney is a born fighter …I’d hate to be in an alley with a born fighter.”
With his obvious strength being his stand-up, some question what will become of a fight when Toney is asked to do something out his element. Ibarra feels that Toney will be able to hold his own when he says, “James knows some martial arts because his manager [John Arthur] was a master in martial arts.”
Now comes the time where rumor mills spin and speculation over Toney’s first opponent consumes the collective minds of everyone close to the sport.
No announcements have been made, as of yet, but names like Couture and Kimbo have been tossed around as possibilities. Juanito opened up about who he thinks would be a good match-up for his boxing turned MMA fighter.
“James Toney will fight anybody. It’s up to us to help him figure things out. What I would like to see and what his manager would like to see…Kimbo Slice.
"It makes sense. The weight factor makes sense. Maybe a 220 [lbs.] fight somewhere in there. Two guys who have great names. I would love to see that fight …I think that’s a great opponent …hopefully the UFC would consider something like that.”
The slice is right!
Ibarra made it clear who he thinks his fighter wants to test his MMA waters with.
“He’s said it all over the Internet. He calls him Simba. He says he wanted Simba Slice.”
Apparently, Toney looks at Kimbo as nothing but a cuddly Disney character.
Another topic circulating about Toney and the UFC is at what weight class the world champion boxer would fight at. Heavyweights can be close to 265 lbs. so that may seem a bit too big, even for the solid hands of Toney.
A fighting weight of 205 lbs. seems like the suitable destination for Ibarra’s fighter and he agrees.
“I like it. I think that’s in the plan.”
After a fight with Kimbo, the boxing coach looks ahead and sees what could be a great set up for his fighter’s next bout.
“I’d like to get him down to 205 and fight the winner of a Chuck and Tito. Fights with Kimbo Slice and he goes on to fight the winner of a Chuck and Tito fight …I think it would sell and I think it would be a hell of a fight.”
There has been no word on when and where Toney will have his first fight in the UFC, however, Juanito Ibarra is working hard with his fighter and optimistically sees big things happening in 2010.
“Hopefully they’ll see us fight somewhere, maybe in June. Believe me, as his teacher I’m not going to let him step into the octagon without him being ready …I think we’re gonna shock the world, dude. I believe that.”