The first time I met James ‘Lights
Out’ Toney was in 1989 when he was a novice pro. He won by knockout at a show
at The Palace in Auburn Hills, Michigan. I was working for a TV company and we
featured Toney baking cakes in his mum’s commercial bakery and training at the
fabled Kronk gym in Detroit, although he wasn’t a regular there.
Toney, 21 at the time, boasted he
would be world middleweight champion and an all-time great eventually. He was
half right. Champion yes, and he’ll go down as a great fighter, but certainly
not legendary. Multiple world titles followed, but as his resume grew so did
his ego and his dark side. After his first lost – to Roy Jones Jr in 1994 –
Toney’s manager Jackie Kallen went into hiding, fearing that Toney was going to
carry out his threat to shoot her.
No wonder UFC President Dana White
was fearful of Toney beating Randy Couture on UFC 118 in Boston on Saturday and
having to deal with the eccentric boxer again in the future. Toney, apparently,
pestered White to give him the 3 minute 18 second rout by Couture only because
he was desperate for a reasonable payday. No wonder White’s upset stomach
disappeared after the lights went out.
Toney’s speech is slurred. He is
42, fat and disillusioned. He should never box nor fight in the Octagon again.
His mixed martial arts career is over, but sadly he’ll continue boxing,
probably now as a stepping stone for younger fighters who want to pad out their
records with a big name on their victories column.
Master Steve Graham is president of
the Cayman Islands Taekwondo Federation and a Pan American Taekwondo Union Executive
Council member. He watched UFC 118 along with a huge crowd at Aqua Beach Bar on
West Bay Road on Saturday night. Graham said: “I expected Toney to do a little
bit considering he is an 11-times world champion at different weights. Couture
went in straight away and just grounded and pounded him.
“Whatever martial arts background
you come from, when going into MMA you have to work on the other disciplines.
This really applies to boxers. Wrestlers generally do better when going into
MMA because they only have to learn boxing and kicking because their ground
game is already there. It’s easier for wrestlers or grapplers to learn other
fighting skills, whereas it’s harder for boxers to do it.
“If you’re not used to wrestling,
then grappling will drain you.”
Graham is excited that former
two-time heavyweight UFC champion Frank Mir will be coming to Cayman in October
for clinics and to rub shoulders with the MMA community here. American Mir, 31,
fights Croatian Miro ‘Cro Cop’ Filipovic on the next UFC bill, 119, in Indianapolis
on 25 September.