James Toney Confident In Victory Over Couture

James Toney asked for this.

The future boxing Hall of Famer chased UFC President Dana White across the country, following UFC events from Las Vegas to Memphis and back again, hoping to get a minute of White’s time and a chance to step inside the Octagon.

A long-time boxing fan, White admired Toney’s work in the ring and eventually acquiesced his advances, signing the former world champion to a contract and aligning him opposite UFC icon Randy Couture for his first foray into the cage.

While the trailers and promotional campaign are spinning this meeting as “Boxing vs. MMA,” make no mistake about it – this is a Freak Show and James Toney is the star attraction.

“Whatever Randy tries to do, it ain’t going to be enough,” offered Toney, as self-assured as ever.

That confidence is what gives this fight the potential to be either one of the biggest upsets the sport has ever seen or a one-sided beating that shows the vast differences between the two combat sports and the two men who are legends in their respective arenas.

Toney truly believes that he is the most feared man in boxing, despite the fact that his last major contest came sixteen years ago against Roy Jones Jr. and ended in a loss. Regardless of the realities of today, Toney is set to rely on the skills that made him a star in the ring, and feels that there is little he needs to change in preparation for his first fight in mixed martial arts.

“There’s not much of a transition,” said Toney, who turned 42 earlier in the week, about the guidance he’s received from MMA fighters like Dean Lister and Muhammed Lawal on making the switch from the ring to the cage. “The only transition I’ve had is the conditioning, which is great. I wish I had this ten years ago. Like I told Pop (Toney’s name for his long-time manager John Arthur), if I had this ten years ago, I really wouldn’t be able to get no fights.”

While he’s stated repeatedly that it was White’s comments about MMA fighters being superior athletes to boxers that prompted the former middleweight and super middleweight champion to seek entrance into the MMA arena, at least part of the push came from Toney’s inability to secure a fight as a boxer.

In a sport where a single loss can turn championship dreams into instant nightmares, heavyweight contenders aren’t interested in stepping into the ring against the man known as “Lights Out.” He still possesses enough punching power to change a fight with a well-timed counter, but offers little else in the way of incentives, so despite holding the IBA and NABO heavyweight titles, Toney is without options in the ring.

When he decided to move to the cage, Couture was quick to step up and announce his desire to welcome Toney to the UFC. The MMA icon got his wish, and despite his storied career, Toney doesn’t think there is anything for him to worry about when he steps in the cage with Couture this weekend in Boston.

“If you look at my boxing style, I’m a very physical fighter, so he fits me perfectly” Toney suggested of Couture’s straight-forward approach and use of dirty boxing. “The fights always start standing up, and once you get in my range, all I need is a few inches.”

As much as working in the clinch and utilizing his dirty boxing has become a signature part of Couture’s approach in the cage, his bread-and-butter is still wrestling. With the proven power Toney has in his hands, you can be sure the UFC Hall of Famer will be looking to bring this fight to the floor, where Couture holds a massive advantage.

The boisterous boxer has talked at great lengths about knocking Couture out and inflicting harm on “The Natural” in the build-up to this bout. While he could very well deliver some damage if on the feet, the inverse could happen if the fight hits the floor, though Toney refuses to truly acknowledge the possibility.

“If he puts me in that situation, I’m very well-prepared. Whatever Randy wants to do, it ain’t going to be enough,” answered Toney when asked about potentially being put a position where Couture could put him to sleep or break his arm. “As soon as I punch him, you gotta call his family.

“He’s got 20 MMA fights and he’s a legend. He ain’t no legend. He’s won five world titles; I’ve won ten world titles in five different weight divisions,” countered the boxing legend and MMA neophyte.”They won’t even respect me because he’s the MMA guy. But you’ll see for yourself on August 28. Get your $49.95 or whatever it cost you, and you’ll see.”

James Toney won’t have to hand over any money on Saturday night. He’ll get to experience this event first-hand from inside the cage, earning himself a paycheck in the process. He might also earn himself the respect of the MMA community if he delivers a knockout as he’s predicted.

Of course, it could be Toney who is on the receiving end of a fight-ending blow or forced to submit to a rear naked choke. Those too are possibilities, whether Toney wants to accept it or not.


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