Nick Diaz of UFC Sparring with James ToneyWritten by Lee Cleveland
Nick Diaz and James Toney, who many consider the "bad boys" of their respective sports, are spending time together at the Cesar Gracie fight camp in California according to a Cesar Gracie tweet on Saturday.
The story was reported on MMANation.
Confrontational, highly-controversial, very outspoken and physically and mentally intense. Many would argue those words aptly describe the principles at the Cesar Gracie fight camp. And coincidentally, both men are coming off loses, have faced drug-related suspensions at least once and have a strong desire to attain crossover appeal as it relates to boxing and MMA.
Why these combatants are together sparring is anyone's guess.
James Toney served a short stinct in UFC and, at 42, signed a multi-fight deal with the organization in 2010. Later that year, a grossly overweight and out of shape Toney was submitted by UFC legend Randy Couture with a 1:41 left in the first round. After the loss, Toney was immediately released by UFC.
Coming off an embarrassing, lopsided points loss to Denis Lebedev in November, James Toney, now 43, will fight (in a boxing match) bare-knuckle champion Bobby Gunn (21-4-1-1NC, 18 KO) on April 7th at the Landers Center in Southaven, MS. It's not yet known exactly how, or if, Nick Diaz (1-0 as a boxer) can be of any benefit to Toney as he prepares for Gunn.
Nick Diaz (26-8 MMA, 7-5 UFC), who lost his bid to become UFC's interim welterweight champion at UFC 143 last month, is facing a one year suspension following a failed drug test for marijuana. Some insiders, in both boxing and MMA, have begun speculating Toney is assisting Diaz in the latter's possible foray into boxing. The former Strikeforce and UFC star won his first and only boxing match via a four round unanimous decision in 2005.
A southpaw, Diaz was arguably the best punch-striker in UFC and has previously expressed a strong interest in joining the pro boxing ranks. And although Diaz's pugilistic pedigree is limited, he is believed to have good skills for a fighter of his brief experience and has had the opportunity to train with, spar and learn from WBA/WBC Super Middleweight Champion Andre Ward (25-0, 13 KO).
In May 2011, Andre Ward told ESPN:
"I appreciate and admire [Diaz's] courage. It remains to be seen how well he'll do (as a boxer), though.... "Nick has good hands, some of the best hands in MMA. But professional boxing is totally different.
Is Nick Diaz looking to get out of his UFC contract, which states he has two fights left with the organization, to become a pro boxer? Or is James Toney getting tips from Diaz in preparation for a possible cage match with MMA hall-of-famer Ken Shamrock later this year? Toney and Shamrock, who had to be separated at the pre-fight presser, were scheduled to meet September 23, 2011 but the match was cancelled for unknown reasons.
So why are Toney and Diaz working out and sparring together?
Although not confirmed, the most logical answer is Toney is there to help keep Diaz's stand-up game sharp. However, as most fans of both sports will attest, in matters involving James Toney and Nick Diaz conventional wisdom doesn't always apply.
Main images courtesy of Sherdog
Lee is Managing Editor of FightSaga.com, a student of the Sweet Science and longtime boxing fan.
A gym rat in the 1990s, Lee was trained by 1976 Olympic Silver Medalist Charles Mooney and several retired seasoned pros. He was also a sparring partner for former WBA Super Middleweight Champion Steve Little who upset Michael Nunn for the WBA Super Middleweight Title in '94.
Lee created FightSaga.com to honor and preserve boxing's rich heritage, chronicle the achievements of top fighters, celebrate the legacy of big fights and provide a fun, educational experience for fight fans.