I really don’t know how he does it, but somehow James Toney (73-6-3) is always able to secure a more-or-less decent fight for himself. It has been an exceedingly long time since Toney looked even average, always boring the crowd and possibly even his own opponent only to protest his unexciting result later.
There is very little room for argument that Toney used to be a tremendous fighter, with so much to offer and even more to take. Since his victory over an over-the-hill Holyfield, Toney has consistently declined in most attributes that made him and his fights exciting, only his unparalleled ability to trash talk remains.
While there is no way anyone can place Lebedev ahead of Toney in terms of boxing ability, legacy, or anything boxing related for that matter, I feel that age will make all the difference in this fight.
I think that the Holyfield fight in 2003 was Toney’s career-ending fight, despite the fact that he came out victorious. Since then, Toney did not have a single meaningful performance demonstrating fight against a formidable opponent. He always looked sluggish, almost uninterested or uninspired in the ring.
Lebedev on the other hand, is a younger fighter with only one loss on his record. His recent beatdown of Jones Jr. could not have been anything short of a colossal confidence boost all the way around. Sure Roy was no longer his real former self; still it’s the name that matters.
One thing that Toney has been missing for a while now is footwork and motion about the ring. He has been relying on standing still and trying to trade punches (which he has always been able to do effectively in the past, and is still pretty excellent at that), but with highly mobile opposition, his strategy proves useless.
I believe that Lebedev will simply outwork Toney and likely send him to the canvas. Lebedev has solid power in both hands, and would likely pressure Toney for the entire fight. Nothing is making sense in my head for Toney’s strategy to come out a winner. Roy Jones, despite being a shadow of his former self, was still active in the ring, giving Lebedev angles and something to chase. Toney will offer none of that.
I do hope this fight comes to fruition, as it will give Lebedev a good opportunity at beating another name, and escalating his career to a fight in the USA. For Toney and his loyal fans, it might prove to be a successful outing, with Toney winning the fight and once again, clawing and talking his way to a title fight.