James Toney: “I'm ready for war!”
INTERVIEW By Coyote Duran (October 1, 2005)
In an age when technology is king, sometimes Old School is the best school. Sometimes, if we’re fortunate enough, we get to experience an intertwining of the two.
After a three month exile from the sport for testing positive for the steroid Nandrolone, James ‘Lights Out’ Toney, 68-4-2 (43), returns tonight in a special heavyweight attraction (Televised on Showtime Championship Boxing at Sat, October 1 at 9:15 PM ET/PT, live from the Reno Events Center, Reno, NV) against young contender Dominick Guinn, 25-2-1 (18), as part of a very promising double bill that also features IBF Heavyweight titlist Chris Byrd defending his belt against DaVarryl Williamson.
Eager as all get out to step back into a ring and reclaim a territory he feels he never lost, Toney is ready to pick up where he left off, cultivating a heavyweight legacy to staple onto his already solid Hall of Fame-ready resume. Toney who was stripped of the WBA Heavyweight title strap he defeated current titlist John Ruiz for feels that he’s the real heavyweight champion of the world. The ‘People’s Champion’, if you will, and he’s willing to show everyone who’ll care to watch that he still has a decisive stranglehold on a division that desperately needs a wake-up call.
I was lucky enough to catch up to the confidently garrulous Toney this week and ‘Lights Out’, true to form, didn’t fail to deliver the how and the now in his gruff, inimitable style. Toney laid it out for me and filled me in on why Guinn was the man to face, how he feels about his promoter’s brother training his opponent and why he’s ‘The People’s Champion.’
Coyote Duran: How the hell are you, James?
James Toney: I'm doin' real well, man! I can't wait! I'm excited!
Coyote Duran: It's great to see you back and this time, out of the young lions in the heavyweight division, you're back in action against Dominick Guinn. How did this particular fight get made and why Guinn this time, James?
James Toney: 'Cause Dominick Guinn was the only one in the top 10 who had the balls to get into the ring with me! You got Chris Byrd, Wladimir Klitschko, (World Heavyweight Champion) Vitali Klitschko. They all suddenly gotta be doin' something else or having surgery or something like that.
Coyote Duran: Guinn seems to capitalize on his opponents who he can intimidate easily. Guinn also tends to be tentative by nature as well. Do you think that Guinn is at all ready for an opponent like you?
James Toney: I think he's gonna be ready 100%. He's fighting a man who means business. I mean, he's gonna be ready. I expect him to come in meaning business.
Coyote Duran: Is it gonna be strange to see Dan Goossen's brother training your opponent?
James Toney: Naw, you know what? Dan's Brother, Joe, is a good trainer but there's nothing I'm worried about at all. He's not my caliber of trainer. He's not a trainer like a Freddie Roach.
Coyote Duran: Being that you and Guinn now have that common thread, with a Goossen on each team, do you think this might've been a ploy by Guinn's camp in thinking that Goossen connection will give him an advantage over you?
James Toney: Naw. I'm ready for war. This is the first time in 18 months that I'm healthy, 100% and ready. I'm ready to give him everything!
Coyote Duran: Not taking anything from your nickname, James, but when I'm asked my prediction of the fight, I've got you coming ahead by a unanimous decision. My reasoning being that it's more impressive to school the hell out of a young strong contender or a prospect, whatever you consider Guinn to be, especially being the counterpuncher you are. Is this a fair assessment or am I just full of shit?
James Toney: I think........No, Dominick Guinn is a good young prospect but I'm gonna beat him just like I did all the others. Rydell Booker was 23 (when Toney defeated him) but I shut him down for 12 rounds. John Ruiz, he younger than me and I destroyed him with one hand!
Coyote Duran: Being that this is a double bill now being you vs. Guinn and Chris Byrd vs. DaVarryl Williamson, is this the build-up to a potential fight between you and Byrd that you've been wanting?
James Toney: Well, I'm not thinking about that. I'm thinking about Dominick Guinn. After that though, it's full speed ahead!
Coyote Duran: There's been major dissention between Byrd and Don King as well as John Ruiz and King. Having to work with King to set up the Ruiz fight, what's your opinion on why, all of a sudden, King seems to be in danger of losing his grip on his portion of the heavyweight division?
James Toney: It's 'cause I ain't in his corner! It's 'cause John Ruiz ain't doin' too good these days! And with Dan Goossen promoting this, don't forget now ‘Lights Out Boxing’'s also promoting this fight! I'm the one that made that fight (vs Ruiz). If Don King get his way and still loses his hold, that's his problem. I'm not even gonna worry about that.
Coyote Duran: James, you served your suspension and now you're back in the swing of things looking to keep contention and get another shot at a title...........
James Toney: (Cutting in) Coyote, now you know I won the WBA title. Then they went and stripped it from me. I'm also the IBA Heavyweight Champion and that's the belt I'll be defending against Dominick Guinn. I just want my people to know I'm The People's Champ. I don't care about no title. They may have stripped me but they didn't beat me. That was Don King's move. The main thing, I'm concentrating on my IBA (belt) The other organizations? I don't trust the other organizations. I don't care about that. I'll let Don King do all the whoopin' and cryin' over that stuff.
Coyote Duran: This fight, of course, is on Showtime, the network that saw you stomp on Evander Holyfield.
James Toney: Right.
Coyote Duran: Now, you're one of the most popular to fight on both Showtime and HBO and not be contractually bound to either. Has either network made the big offer to you yet?
James Toney: Well, HBO put the offer on the table last year but I'm doin' other things. I love Showtime. Jay Larkin's a great man. He's given me opportunities time in and time out. Hey, if it comes down to it now, I'm just waiting for that right offer.
Coyote Duran: James, the last time we spoke, you mentioned being part of a potential reality show. Any updates on this? Is it still a go?
James Toney: Well, we, my managers and me, we still gotta put everything together. It's gonna happen! You will see The Life and Times of James Toney coming soon.
Coyote Duran: I wanna see Goossen-Tutor put on a heavyweight show in Chicago for two reasons: To get you a bout here in The Windy City and because I wanna go out drinking with (Public Relations Rep) Rachel Charles. Any chance of either coming off?
James Toney: There's a big possibility of all that comin' up! Anything's possible! I wanna fight in Chicago. Y'all were done wrong with the Rahman-Barrett fight. We could have a great show with a great undercard. I wanna fight in Chicago and me and Dan Goossen will show Chicago what it's all about.
Coyote Duran: Trust me. We can use the wake-up from the Rahman-Barrett fight.
James Toney: Yeah. What kind of bullshit was that?
Coyote Duran: Got any words for all the lovers and haters out there, James?
James Toney: For all the haters out there, keep watching me. Everybody that loves me? Keep doin' what you're doin'.
Coyote Duran: Good luck against Dominick Guinn on Saturday, man!
James Toney: Hey, no problem, Coyote! Thank you!
Thanks to James "Lights Out" Toney for sharing valuable time during his preparation for this Saturday's showdown with Dominick Guinn. Major Coyote-thanks to the very lovely Rachel Charles of Goossen-Tutor Promotions and John "Pops" Arthur for making this discussion possible.
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