On April 30, James Toney won a heavyweight title. A series of major fights with considerable paydays figured to follow.
But 11 days later, it was revealed that Toney failed the post-fight drug screen, which showed that his decision victory against John Ruiz came with the banned steroid nandrolone in his system.
The New York boxing commission overturned the result of the fight to a no-decision, suspended Toney for 90 days and fined him the maximum $10,000. The WBA, following its rules, subsequently stripped Toney of the title and returned it to Ruiz.
So much for the title. So much for the big fights.
Toney has served his suspension and paid his fine and is ready for his ring return Saturday night (9:15 ET/PT, Showtime) in Reno.
However, instead of fighting for millions against another title holder or a big-name contender, Toney instead will box for about $500,000 against Dominick Guinn (25-2-1, 18 KOs). Guinn is a once-hot contender who has something of his own to prove after falling out of favor by going 1-2-1 in his past four fights.
Also on the card, Chris Byrd (38-2-1, 20 KOs) will make the fourth defense of his heavyweight belt when he faces court-ordered mandatory challenger DaVarryl Williamson (22-3, 18 KOs). Victories by Toney and Byrd might pave the way for the Michigan natives to face each other next year.
Toney (68-4-2, 43 KOs) maintains that the positive drug test was the result of him taking a combination of medications prescribed to him while he was recovering from a severe left biceps and triceps injury suffered in his previous fight. He said he is not upset about being stripped of the title.
"I'm not disappointed. You're only disappointed if you've done wrong," Toney said. "I didn't do nothing wrong. I whupped Ruiz with one arm. All I did was fight and beat John Ruiz and now I am healthy and I'm happy to be back in there."
The fight with Ruiz was arranged on short notice, and Toney said the medication was not fully out of his system.
"When [promoter Dan Goossen] called and said I flunked the test, I thought about it for a little bit," Toney said.
"You know what? It does not matter. I did it, I beat him, I beat Ruiz. I told Dan I wanted the fight. I was thinking I would be ready. I was not thinking about the stuff still being in my system. But I cannot look at the past. It was not Dan's fault. It was my fault because I am so edgy. I wanted Ruiz. I wanted to get him before he changed his mind. So I do not blame anybody but myself."
Toney said the substance in his system didn't give him a competitive advantage.
"If I were on steroids, I would be cut. Look at me. Do I look like I am on steroids?" said the pudgy Toney.
"I am still the champion. The belt does not make me, I make the belt. I beat Ruiz with one hand and they stripped me. So what? I will still unify the belts."
Guinn is thankful for the chance to face Toney after his recent struggles.
"I have to take advantage of this opportunity," he said. "I have not shown my best fight yet."
Guinn shook up his team after a surprising loss to Sergei Liakhovich followed by an even more surprising draw with Friday Ahunanya in April. He split with promoter Main Events and manager Shelly Finkel when his contracts with them expired. He also parted ways with trainer Ronnie Shields to go with Joe Goossen, the brother of Toney promoter Dan Goossen.
"I should have made the change [in trainers] a long time ago," Guinn said. "I need someone calm in my corner like Goossen. He is teaching me some new things in the gym."
Toney is aware of how badly Guinn needs a victory.
"He's lost two [recent] fights and he's a desperate man. A desperate man does desperate things," Toney said.
"I'm coming into this fight with a good, young guy, a guy who a year ago they were all saying was the next big thing. So I'm going to knock him out in what I consider a title defense. I beat Ruiz with one hand and barely trained at all. There is nothing Guinn can do or show me that I have never seen before."
Around the ring
Marquez-Mabuza postponed: The Showtime card Saturday was supposed to open with the Rafael Marquez-Silence Mabuza bantamweight championship fight, but that bout has been postponed.
Marquez (34-3, 30 KOs) has the flu and will be unable to fight, according to promoter Gary Shaw.
The fight with Mabuza (18-0, 15 KOs), the mandatory challenger from South Africa, has been rescheduled for Showtime's Nov. 5 card at Caesars Tahoe in Stateline, Nev. Super middleweight titlist Jeff Lacy (20-0, 16 KOs) faces Scott Pemberton (29-3-1, 24 KOs) in the main event.
Warren vs. Hatton: British promoter Frank Warren said he has filed a lawsuit against junior welterweight champion Ricky Hatton in an effort to prevent Hatton from fighting titleholder Carlos Maussa on Nov. 26 without Warren's Sports Network promoting the fight.
Warren claims that he still has Hatton under contract for three more fights. Hatton won the title by stopping Kostya Tszyu in June. After the fight, Hatton said it was the last bout of his deal with Warren and began talking with Warren about an extension. But he also spoke to several other promoters and eventually agreed to a one-fight deal with British promoter Dennis Hobson to do the Maussa fight.
"I'm very sorry that it has come to this situation and what I have done, I have done with great reluctance," Warren said in a statement. "But I am determined to protect Sports Network's contractual position and ensure Ricky Hatton fulfils his obligations."
Tua headlines: Promoters Cedric Kushner and Warriors Boxing are moving forward with their second joint lower cost pay-per-view card ($24.95).
The Oct. 21 card at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, Fla., will feature four bouts. Heavyweight David Tua (43-3-1, 38 KOs), 1-0 on the comeback trail after a two-year layoff, faces Cisse Salif (17-4-2, 16 KOs) in the main event. The fight was postponed from the August Kushner/Warriors card headlined by Shannon Briggs vs. Ray Mercer because Tua had complications after a wisdom tooth was extracted.
The other TV bouts are heavyweight Jameel McCline (32-5-3, 20 KOs) vs. Zuri Lawrence (19-10-4, 0 KOs), junior middleweight Yuri Foreman (18-0, 7 KOs) vs. Troy Lowry (27-5, 16 KOs) and middleweight Edison Miranda (24-0, 21 KOs) vs. Angel Hernandez (26-6, 16 KOs).
Quick hits: While Antonio Tarver and Roy Jones prepare for their Saturday showdown, the third member of their round-robin -- Glen Johnson (42-10-2, 28 KOs) -- is also fighting this week. Johnson, who split a pair of decisions with Tarver and knocked out Jones in his past three fights, will face George Khalid Jones (23-2-1, 13 KOs) in a title eliminator Friday night (10:30 ET, Fox Sports Net) in Brooks, Calif. It will be the first fight for Johnson -- the 2004 fighter of the year -- since losing to Tarver in their June rematch. HBO2 will set the stage for the Tarver-Jones pay-per-view rubber match Saturday night by reairing their first two fights (Friday, 11:35 p.m. ET/PT and Saturday, noon ET/PT). Jones won a majority decision in their November 2003 match and Tarver turned the tables with a thunderous second-round knockout in the May 2004 rematch. Featherweight titlist Scott Harrison will be at home in Scotland when he defends against Nedal Hussein of Australia on Nov. 5. Hussein is the brother of flyweight contender Hussein Hussein, who faces Jorge Arce in a rematch of their March brawl on the Oct. 8 Diego Corrales-Jose Luis Castillo Showtime PPV undercard. Lightweight Amir Khan (2-0, 1 KO), the British sensation who won a silver medal in the 2004 Olympics, will be on the undercard.
Quotable: "My fight won't last long. You can get the Jones show afterward." -- Toney on his Showtime bout competing with the Tarver-Jones III card on HBO PPV on Saturday.
Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.