Mike Tyson vs James Toney in 2015: What if?Written by Lee Cleveland
Will two fight legends come out of retirement to face each other in the ring?
Yesterday, Mike Tyson, 49, immediately dismissed recent rumors of his potential return to the ring and a possible showdown with 46 year old James Toney.
But boxing history tells us when an ex fighter, especially a glorified former champion, insists he's not fighting again, he should never be taken too seriously.
It's no secret 'Iron' Mike is broke so a comeback isn't completely out of the realm of possibility; after all, he's still younger than Bernard Hopkins who was, prior to November, a legitimate, unified light heavyweight champion.
Perhaps Mike will stick to his word and stay retired, but what if he doesn't?
What if the great Mike Tyson, after a ten year hiatus, laced 'em up once again for a high-profile showdown with future Hall of Famer James Toney?
A lot of people, hardcore and casual fans alike, would watch based on sheer curiosity alone.
James Toney has held world titles in the middleweight, super middleweight, and cruiserweight divisions. He was also Fighter of the Year in 1991 and 2003, and is known for his legendary 'old-school' style, consisting of his shoulder roll, ability to fight off the ropes, slick body movements, and awesome in-fighting ability.
There's no question a prime Mike Tyson beats any and every version of James Toney at heavyweight, but what about today?
Toney has been far more active since 2000, especially over the last ten years. Tyson would have a lot more ring rust than James who last fought in 2013.
So who would have the edge should such a showdown take place?
"[I would pick] Tyson, because James Toney had better days. Tyson still can punch like hell and James is more for sharpness but he is older," Hall of Fame trainer Jessie Reid told the International Business Times.
"I don’t think he has the same sharpness…I think Mike Tyson still can punch, and a puncher never loses his punch."
Keep in mind, Lucas Browne (then 15-0, 14 KOs) soundly defeated James Toney in April 2013 in what many believed would be the latter's swan song. James also dropped a less consequential three-rounder to journeyman Jason Gavern months later in the UK's famed Prizefighter Tournament.
Should Tyson vs Toney come to fruition this year and both men enter the ring in the best possible shape, the older, less active Tyson may have the edge because a fighter's speed and reflexes abandon him long before his punching power.
And while both fighters were highly dependent on accuracy and quickness back in the day, Tyson's power would be the differentiator.
Today. we’d see slower, less accurate versions of both men but Mike's power stuff might be more than James could handle. And don't forget, Tyson is a natural heavyweight while Toney's best days as a pugilist were at middleweight and super middleweight.
James has never been knocked out and a 49 year old Tyson is not likely to accomplish that feat. However, if Mike has trained well, is motivated and throws punches with bad intentions, it may be enough to mitigate the offensive prowess of the once-masterful combination puncher as James would likely be forced into a defensive shell, and would be more concerned with making Tyson miss than generating enough offense to earn a points verdict.
Tyson vs Toney 2015 Prediction: Mike Tyson wins close UD over 10 rounds.
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.