Monday, 15 October 2012 16:19

Boxing: James Toney Praises Old School Mexican Fighters, Believes Chavez Sr and 'Canelo' Overrated

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Never at a loss for words, fight legend James "Lights Out" Toney believes today's Mexican stars don't measure up to the 'South of the Border' fighters of the past.

A three-division world champion, James Toney (74-7-3, 2NC, 45 KO) is a future Hall of Famer who has held world titles in the middleweight, super middleweight, and cruiserweight divisions.

Known for his legendary "old-school" style, consisting of his shoulder roll, his ability to fight off the ropes, his slick body movements, and his infighting, Toney told Elie Seckbach of ES News fighters today just don't measure up to the great old pugilists of the past.

When told he possesses the chin of a Mexican fighter, Toney disagreed with the comparison saying, "There are some tremendously good Mexican fighters out there but I can't compare things with yesterday. Yesterday's Mexican fighters... Those were rock hard fighters. Lupe Pintor, Salvador Sanchez. People like like. Those are the Mexican fighters I like."

When Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez was mentioned, the candid fighter responded, "C'mon dog. Are you serious? He's got talent... yes he does but if he fights Mayweather he gets knocked out. If he fights K9 [Bundrage] he gets knocked out."

When asked about his thoughts on a Chavez vs Martinez rematch, Toney insisted there was no need for a second bout. He went on to say, "Chavez [Jr] is like his daddy. His daddy wasn't that much."

When Seckbach reminded Toney of the the elder Chavez's pristine record, Toney stated 75 of Chavez's first 100 opponents were taxi cab drivers.


"The greatest Mexican fighter of all-time is Salvador Sanchez, period. Hands down," exclaimed Toney, who insisted Sanchez would have KO'd the legendary Chavez Sr in a hypothetical match-up.

"He [Salvador Sanchez]  fought people in their prime. Chavez didn't."

Pictured: The great Salvador Sanchez (44-1, 32 KO)


When asked to make a list of the top 5 most exciting fighters today, the fight legend replied, "James Toney, James Toney, James Toney, James Toney, James Toney."

James Toney vs Chris Arreola
Toney was also very vocal about the prospects of a bout between himself and top 10 heavyweight Chris Arreola whom James often refers to as 'Christina.'

"[Promoter] Dan Goossen don't want that. Chris Arreola already knows what time it is."

Perhaps discussing a previous sparring encounter involving himself and Arreola, Toney told Seckbach, "He knows what happened in the gym, and I was going light on him."

And given his style, speed, defensive capabilities and durability, James Toney would likely give Arreola a headache in the ring in more ways than one... IF "Lights Out" has anything left. He hasn't looked solid in his last several outings, prompting some in the media to suggest the 44 year old should retire.

James Toney advised young fighters to not emulate today's stars and, instead, "Go back and study old school fighters."

Currently rated No. 58 in the heavyweight division by BoxRec, Toney last fought in April, stopping Bobby Gunn in the the fifth round. 


James Toney ES News Interview, October 2012

Salvador Sanchez Facts

  • Born: Santiago Tianguistenco, EdoMex, Mexico in 1959
  • Turned pro at 16
  • Possessed speed, power, and excellent counter-punching skills.
  • Sanchez won the WBC Featherweight Championship in 1980 by stopping Danny Lopez in thirteen rounds, becoming the first Mexican since Ruben Olivares to win a world featherweight title. He made nine successful title defenses.
  • Sanchez stopped the undefeated WBC Super Bantamweight Champion Wilfredo Gomez in eight rounds in 1981. Gomez, who was 32-0-1 (32 KOs), was a 2-1 betting favorite.
  • The Ring named Sanchez Fighter of the Year for 1981, along with Sugar Ray Leonard.
  • The young legend stopped all-time great Azumah Nelson in fifteen rounds on July 21, 1982.
  • Sanchez died August 12, 1982, when his white Porsche was hit head-on by a truck. He was 23
  • In 1991, Sanchez was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
  • In 1999, The Associated Press named Sanchez the 3rd greatest featherweight of the 20th Century. 


Salvador Sanchez Story


Lee Cleveland

Lee is Managing Editor of, a student of the Sweet Science and longtime boxing fan.