The once great and future Hall of Famer James Toney (76-10-3) will be 49 in august and is now reportedly scheduled to fight 41-year-old Mike Sheppard for something called the “vacant WBF heavyweight title on May 13 in Ypsilanti, Michigan. It will be a 12-rounder.
In his last outing almost two years ago, “Lights Out” was beaten by journeyman Charles Ellis (9-3-1) in St. Louis. His last win came in 2013 against Brit Matt Legg in London.
Sheppard, who will fight anyone anywhere, is no world beater and at 24-20-2 is also coming off a stoppage loss to 7-0 Sergey Kuzmin in Russia, In fact, the West Virginia fighter has suffered 10 stoppages in his 20 defeats thus providing some clue as to why he has been selected as Toney’s opponent. Among his conquerors have been Antonio Tarver, Brian Minto, Ruslan Chagaev, Denis Boytsov, and many other notables. His last noteworthy win was a redemptive one against China “The Dragon” Smith who was on a comeback after being away for 11 –yes– 11 years and had beaten Mike in the course of his dubious 3-fight comeback.
Sheppard has been defeated and pretty much KOd every time he has stepped up in class. However, though he is fighting a one-time living legend, it might not be quite accurate to say he is stepping up this time..
Roy Jones Jr is still around but is closer to 50 than 40. Hopkins is gone; he tempted fate once too often. Now, a bloated Toney, who once possessed rare boxing skills while fighting at middleweight, super-middleweight and cruiserweight, and a Ring IQ that was off the charts, fights ignominiously for a title that was once held by Audley Harrison and “The Dutch Sonny Liston” Richel Hersisia!
James has never been stopped and hopefully that won’t happen here. The Hopkins slaughter was bad enough and Roy—well it doesn’t seem to bother Roy.
Boxing stories seldom have a happy ending. This one has the potential for one. We can only hope,