Boxing: Toney baffled by last-round defeat

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The Independent Online

The truly bizarre career of James Toney is not over but his passage from 11 stone of compact muscle to over 16 stone of flab during his 18 years as a fighter cost him on Saturday night.

Toney was winning on two of the three score cards going into the 12th and final round against Hasim Rahman for the World Boxing Council heavyweight title. But during the last three minutes Toney had nothing left. At the bell the exhausted pair appeared to have settled their previous differences, which included an ugly shoving match two months ago in Mexico, but they quickly fell out again when a drawn verdict was returned.

Rahman retained his WBC title with two scores of 114-114 and another quite disturbing tally of 117-111 in his favour. There was, sadly, no talk of a rematch and now Rahman looks likely to defend against Russia's Oleg Maskaev, who is unknown in both his homeland and his adopted country of America.

Toney, who was having his 77th fight, will now have to try to entice one of the other champions into the ring but it will not be easy and he will not readily accept the type of pay cut that would make it possible.

Another option for Toney, and it is one that he has spoken about for several years, would be some type of grotesque but truly attractive encounter against Mike Tyson, who has not fought since last year but is desperate for the type of cash that a showdown with Toney would generate.

"I won the fight, I slowed down in the last round but by then the fight was mine. I have no idea what the judge who voted for Rahman was doing but nothing surprises me in this business," said Toney.

Toney did admit that in future he will slim down slightly which for him is a major acknowledgement that perhaps, after all, there are still things in the boxing business that he has not yet fully mastered.

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