James Toney was flashing two diamond bracelets on his right arm. “About $10,000 each,” he noted. They went well with his $5,000 diamond ring. On his left wrist was what he claimed was a 255-karat diamond watch – “This is called a ‘brother’s watch,’ ” he laughed. He said it cost $185,000. More diamonds looped loosely around his neck, linked to a diamond cross hanging in front of his stomach.“The necklace is $200,000,” he said.
Toney earned such riches as a boxer. Nicknamed “Lights Out,” he’s 72-6-3 with 44 knockouts. He’s won 11 world championships in five different weight classes and at age 42 is the IBA heavyweight belt holder. He’d have worn more jewelry Thursday, but his over-sized diamond earring is gone.
“I lost the big one,” he said. “I was being James Toney, fighting in a parking lot back home in Detroit. … It fell off.”
With the diamonds and the dust-up as a preview, James Toney will become the first major boxing star to attempt what appears to be a high-risk, high-pain crossover into mixed martial arts. He’ll fight Randy Couture at the TD Garden on Saturday at UFC 118.
Almost everyone thinks Toney is nuts for trying it.
A debate has raged over who would prevail if a boxer and a mixed martial artist fought since MMA was invented in the early 1990s. No one has been able to figure out how the old-school sweet science fits in with this new-age phenomenon. At UFC 1, a fighter competed wearing one boxing glove and one free hand. Ever since, the two sports have battled for fans, media attention and bragging rights.
The UFC, led by former boxer-turned-promoter Dana White, has flourished. “MMA is the king of the [expletive] right now,” Toney said, which is another reason he’s here. He’ll make an estimated $750,000 to $1 million Saturday. In boxing, “I can’t get no fights.”
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