<
>

Booker kisses victory goodbye against Toney

9/24/2004

TEMECULA, Calif. -- It all started with a little kiss by Rydell Booker
and ended with a ferocious 12-round beating by James Toney for the IBA
heavyweight title.

Before a sold-out crowd at the Pechanga Resort and Casino last night, Booker
paid the price for his mocking act with a possible broken nose and a frightful
beating despite Toney suffering an injury to his left arm.

"I hurt my arm in the first round throwing a jab-hook," said Toney (68-4-2,
43 KOs), holding the arm gingerly after the fight. "I was too excited. I
wanted to KO him."

Despite an 11-month layoff due to an Achilles tendon injury that occurred
early in the year, Toney sought a competitive opponent and found one in
Detroit's Booker (22-1, 12 KOs). But the layoff led to a layer of rust.

"I give myself a C-minus," said Toney, 37, currently ranked No. 1 by
the WBC. "I came out of shape."

The first round saw Booker use a lightning jab followed by a straight right
hand, but Toney countered with his own snapping left jab and soon found the
body an open target. But the first jab-hook he threw hurt his arm.

In the second round, Toney discovered a two-punch combination that could not
miss. The right to the body and right uppercut to the face busted Booker's
nose and sent blood flying everywhere. It was Toney's formula for success.

After seven rounds, Toney had built a sizeable lead and used the same right
to the body and right uppercut to the chin that dropped Booker on one knee.
But he got up at the count of eight.

"If I had use of my left hand I would have gotten him out of there," said
Toney, who used a stiff left jab occasionally despite the pain coming from
his left triceps. "He sucked it up."

The judges scored it unanimously for Toney 120-107, 118-108, and 117-110.

Chris Byrd, the IBF heavyweight title holder, said he was not impressed with
Toney and would love to fight him.

"He claims to have the best defense; I have the best defense in the
division," said Byrd. "Tell him to sign the contract."

Toney said he would fight anybody in the world but signing to fight three of
he four heavyweights with titles means dealing with Don King.

"Don King is like the penitentiary with the keys in his pocket and the
fighters are in his custody," said Toney.

Dan Goossen, president of Goossen-Tutor that promotes Toney, said they are
working on an elimination bout for the WBC title that Vitali Kitschko holds.
Klitschko is scheduled to fight Mike Tyson-conqueror Danny Williams in
December.

"I'm here to stay; I'm ready to unify the titles," said Toney with his IBA
title belt wrapped around his shoulder. "I'm ready to face anybody who wants
some."

In other bouts, Mark Suarez (22-2, 10 KOs) of Riverside, Calif., knocked out his fourth
consecutive opponent at 2:02 in the third round against Brad Jensen (13-14-3) in a welterweight match.

"I had to get in some work," said Suarez, who looked capable of stopping his
opponent earlier but held back. "I didn't want to get sloppy and get caught
with a lucky shot."

The first bout featured former bantamweight world champion Wayne McCullough
(27-4, 18 KOs) against Mike Juarez (23-15-2). The fight was mostly one-sided
with McCullough burrowing ahead nonstop with punches to the head and body.
Referee Jose Cobain stopped the featherweight fight at 2:59 of the second
round.