Draw turns out to be par for course for heavies
It shouldn't have been a surprise that a majority draw was declared in Saturday night's WBC title fight between Hasim Rahman and James Toney in Atlantic City.
Given the state of the heavyweight division, you figured something like this would happen, so it shouldn't have been a surprise that a majority draw was declared in Saturday night's WBC title fight between Hasim Rahman and James Toney at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J.
But even if only for aesthetic reasons, Rahman should have gotten the nod, despite the fact that the fight itself was a sloppy -- albeit entertaining at times -- exhibition of boxing from the big men of the sport circa 2006.
In other words, we're right back where we started.
Scores were 114-114 twice, and 117-111 for Rahman.
"I definitely thought I won the fight," said Rahman, who retains his WBC crown.
"I saw myself winning by two or three points, but that's the name of the game," said Toney, the former middleweight, super middleweight, and cruiserweight champion who checked in at a career-high 238 pounds for the bout.
Despite the added poundage, Toney was not shy of standing in front of and engaging Rahman in the first round, shooting in quick shots and easily leaning back out of punching range. Rahman stayed calm, catching Toney with stiff jabs and the occasional right hand, and also making sure to outmuscle his smaller foe whenever he got his gloves on him at close range.
Rahman continued to push the pace in the second, and he started mixing in heavy body shots as well. Toney refused to move though, and he landed the cleaner head blows throughout the round as he potshotted Rahman with counters.
The first big punch of the third - an overhand right -- was scored by Toney, but Rahman seemed unbothered by it and when the champion fired back, Toney would stumble drunkenly away, with his balance obviously off. Yet it was still Toney who was the more effective of the two as he mixed up his punches well upstairs and down. It was a pace that got the crowd roaring, as they were obviously not used to seeing two big men fighting at a middleweight pace.
Toney was visibly winded for the first time in the fight in round four, and he was content to stay on Rahman's shoulder as he flurried in an effort to impress the judges. "The Rock' played along with this strategy, bulling Toney to the ropes and fired in short and annoying punches wherever he could land them.
Rahman's jab told the tale in the fifth frame, and Toney seemed frustrated with the Baltimore native's refusal to allow him inside. Toney missed with a number of looping right hands, and fatigue again looked to be an issue. But despite his success, it was Rahman who went back to his corner with a cut over his left eye thanks to a clash of heads.
The pace dipped in the sixth, and both fighters stood at close range and alternated shots to the head and body. In the final minute, Rahman pinned Toney in a neutral corner and opened up with both hands, but it was "Lights Out' who got the better of the action in brief spurts as he fired off combinations on his onrushing foe.
The second half of the bout began with Rahman sticking to his gameplan of jabbing and outmuscling Toney, and though the former three-division champ had his moments where he landing flush shots, he apparently did not have the power to hurt Rahman.
After a lethargic couple of rounds, Toney kicked off the eighth with some of his best work, but by the second minute of the round, Rahman was moving forward and landing again, and Toney was again stumbling sloppily into the ropes, where he even resorted to holding the top rope with his right hand as Rahman bullied him and landed with his right hand from short range. The two got the crowd roaring again by the time the bell rang though, with some spirited, if sloppy action.
The ninth provided a breather for both men, with Rahman trudging forward and Toney lying on the ropes for much of the three minute stanza, and while the two picked up the pace slightly in the tenth, it was a tough round to score as both fighters had their moments.
With two rounds left, it appeared that Toney would need a knockout to win, but he also needed enough gas in the tank to make a run, and that didn't seem to be the case. Rahman, more disciplined than many expected him to be, kept jabbing from the outside and peppering Toney on the inside. Toney responded with some flush right hands, but Rahman walked right through them with no discernible effect.
In the final round, Toney scored well with both hands, yet he didn't have nearly enough pop to hurt his foe, let alone knock him out. Rahman, to his credit, kept pushing the pace, and when the final bell rang, there was apparently no question who the champion was.
Except in the eyes of two of the judges.
With the draw, Rahman moves his record to 41-5-2 with 33 KOs; Toney goes to 69-4-3 with 43 KOs and 1 no contest.
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