James Toney: "El Nino", Roy Jones II or Hasim Rahman III?
At the Landers Center in Southaven, MS, James Toney (74-7-3, 45 KOs) defeated bare-knuckle fighter Bobby Gunn (21-5-1, 18 KOs) in 5 rounds to score his first official stoppage victory since halting journeyman Matthew Greer in 2009.
This was "Lights Out" Toney's first fight since dropping a one-sided 12 round decision to WBA Cruiserweight Champion Denis Lebedev in Moscow, Russia, on November 4th, 2011. The 43 year old multi division champion struggled mightily in the championship bout due to a knee injury suffered in the second stanza.
After surgery and months of rehabilitation, the defensive master showed signs of counterpunching brilliance throughout the four rounds of action; landing hard right hands and working behind successful sporadic jabs.
"The Celtic Warrior" failed to answer the opening bell of the fifth round due to a broken hand suffered in the fourth. Gunn was entering the ring for the first time in almost three years and was forced to retire after the fourth round for the second consecutive time.
In his previous outing, Gunn fought Tomasz Adamek for the IBF Cruiserweight title on July 11th, 2009. The championship bout was stopped between the fourth and fifth rounds by the ringside physician's recommendation.
So what's next for the 23 year ring veteran? There are several rumors circulating throughout the world of boxing concerning James Toney's next opponent.
It's been speculated the future Hall of Famer will face undefeated Heavyweight prospect David "El Nino" Rodriguez on June 15th in Texas. The 6'5" knock-out artist is recovering from a vicious attack in which he was jumped and slashed by multiple assailants in Scottsdale, AZ, on December 29th.
Should the hard punching heavyweight be ready for the June 15th date, he would be facing his toughest test to date and an opponent who has never been stopped in 84 professional bouts. David Rodriguez has tremendous knock out power in both fists and has stopped 34 of his last 36 opponents.
Another potential bout for James Toney could be a long awaited rematch with fellow future Hall of Famer and all time great Roy Jones Jr. Their initial meeting took place almost 18 years ago and was one of the first significant fights to take place in the Super Middleweight division.
The 168 pound contest resulted in a wide unanimous 12 round victory for Roy Jones. Although their first encounter was a slow paced affair, it would be a very interesting pairing at this juncture of both fighters' careers.
Pictured: James Toney, left, and Roy Jones Jr in 1994
Although the two above mentioned options are indeed realistic and somewhat probable, a third choice could be the most thought provoking and discussion stirring alternative.
On July 14th, former lineal Heavyweight Champion and the last American fighter to hold the distinction, Hasim "The Rock" Rahman, will face undefeated Russian fighter Alexander "Sasha" Povetkin for the WBA Regular Heavyweight Championship.
If Rahman were to defeat the former Olympic gold medalist and become the new WBA title holder, fight fans could possibly see 43 year old James Toney fighting Rahman for a third time in 2012 for a minor piece of the Heavyweight crown.
Both fighters are promoted by Greg Cohen and have some unfinished business after two previous outings.
Their first pairing occurred in March of 2006 and resulted in a twelve round majority draw. James Toney and Hasim Rahman's second meeting took place two years later and resulted in a no-contest due to a premature stoppage caused by a cut over Rahman's eye; which hindered the former champion's vision.
Because the cut was caused by an accidental head butt, the bout was eventually ruled a 3 round no contest by the California State Athletic Commission. After 15 rounds of action between the two veteran fighters, there hasn't been a decisive victor.
So if James Toney's detractors and critics were hoping for a retirement speech, don't count on hearing one anytime soon from the future first ballot Hall of Famer.
Nothing brings the defensive wizard more satisfaction than proving his naysayers wrong.
"If anyone thinks that I'm going to stop fighting now, they're dead wrong. I'm going to keep fighting as long as I want to keep fighting. Because I'm the best Heavyweight in the world. When I'm healthy, I can't be beaten. I'm going to keep fighting hard and I'm really going to enjoy disappointing my detractors again and again. What I do best is whip ass, and I plan to keep doing it for as long as I want."
"To all of the true James Toney fans: you guys are the greatest and I want to thank all of you for being with me through everything. I will show you that I am the real Heavyweight Champion of the world. I promise you, I will prove to everyone that I am the best heavyweight in the world today. No one can stop me when I am healthy. I can't be beaten."