Toney Promises to Fight With Holyfield

Friday, October 3rd 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LAS VEGAS (AP) _ To hear Evander Holyfield tell it, a lot of his problems in recent fights were the fault of opponents who wanted to survive more than they wanted to fight.

James Toney assures him he won't have that to use as an excuse Saturday night.

``I am going to be there for him. Why would I run from this guy?'' Toney said. ``Why would I change the way I have fought my whole career? My thing is you have to bring it. It is going to be a bloody night.''

Those may sound like brave words coming from Toney, a fighter who has never fought for real as a heavyweight in a career that began at 160 pounds 15 years ago. But if there's one thing Toney can do better than fight, it's talk.

He's done plenty of it in the months leading up to the 12-round heavyweight fight that matches a former champion two weeks shy of his 41st birthday against a rejuvenated cruiserweight champion who many dismiss as too little and too arrogant.

Judging from Thursday's weigh-in, he's also been eating. Toney weighed 217 pounds, 27 more than he did for his April win over cruiserweight champion Vassiliy Jirov that was so impressive it got him a fight with Holyfield.

``Every heavyweight in the division is garbage,'' Toney says. ``I will fight every single one of them.''

He'll start with Holyfield, who has been waiting for someone who will stand in front of him and trade punches.

``Fighters that are aggressive match up well with me,'' Holyfield said.

Holyfield is an 8-5 favorite despite having a 2-3-2 record in his last seven fights and looking much like a 40-something fighter against most of those opponents.

Holyfield took the fight because Roy Jones Jr. wouldn't offer him more money to fight for his WBA heavyweight crown. He's taking a risk because there are no titles at stake and a loss could derail his plan to become the undisputed heavyweight champion once again before retiring.

``I do not lose. I just do not get decisions sometimes,'' Holyfield said. ``You lose when you quit. I have never quit.''

The fight, which tops a card that includes an intriguing boxer-versus-slugger matchup between former 130-pound champions Diego Corrales and Joel Casamayor, will be televised on Showtime pay-per-view. It is expected to start about 10 p.m. EDT.

Holyfield, who weighed 219, is in desperate need of a big win to re-establish his credibility in the heavyweight division, where he is already a four-time former champion. His lopsided loss to Chris Byrd for the IBF title last December merely reinforced the belief of many that he should be long retired.

Holyfield, though, attributes that loss to a rotator cuff he tore in the first round and said he is ready to trade punches with Toney for as long as he wants.

``If it goes according to how Toney says he is going to fight, it will be an action-packed fight,'' Holyfield said.

Toney is a three-time champion himself, though those titles have come at lighter weights. He's always had a problem with eating and says his natural weight is 240 pounds. That meant he had to lose about 50 pounds for his fight with Jirov, where he displayed marvelous counter-punching skills to dethrone the cruiserweight champion.

``I like to take licks,'' Toney said. ``Let's see the reaction on Holyfield's face when he hits me and I'm still there. I've been fighting big guys all my life. He's no different.''