Rahman, Toney agree to fight on July 16

6/2/2008 - Boxing

Heavyweights Hasim Rahman and James Toney, both in dire need of a significant victory, will meet July 16 in a rematch after their handlers came to an agreement this week.

"Top Rank and I and the fighters have agreed to the fight," Toney promoter Dan Goossen said. "It's a very tough division to have a high-profile fight in without it being for a world championship, but the winner of this fight will have another opportunity to fight for another championship."

They will meet in a scheduled 12-rounder at the Pechanga resort in Temecula, Calif., Goossen said. Goosen told ESPN.com Monday that he finalized a deal over the weekend for the bout to be televised live on "Best Damn Sports Show Period (FSN).

"I think they're both marquee names, but they are at a crossroads in their careers," said Todd duBoef, president of Top Rank, which promotes Rahman. "It's all or nothing in a division that has suffered terribly with lackluster performances lately. The winner of the fight should be given the opportunity to fight for one of the titles."

Rahman, a former two-time heavyweight champion, fought to a draw with Toney in March 2006 to retain his version of the title.

Both fighters have struggled since.

In his next fight five months later, Rahman (45-6-2, 36 KOs) lost his title when he was knocked out by Oleg Maskaev for the second time. Rahman has won four bouts since, but he has had uneven performances against low-level competition.

The downfall for Toney (70-6-3, 43 KOs), a former middleweight, super middleweight and cruiserweight champion, has been even more severe. After the draw with Rahman, he lost his next two fights to Samuel Peter, including a one-sided decision in their January 2007 title eliminator rematch.

Toney outpointed journeyman Dan Batchelder four months later, but both fighters tested positive for steroids afterward. They were both suspended and Toney hasn't fought since.

The suspension was Toney's second for a positive steroid test. The first, in April 2005, cost him a heavyweight title win against John Ruiz, when his decision victory was overturned to a no contest and the belt returned to Ruiz.

"Toney knows he needs to show something," Rahman co-manager Steve Nelson said when the fight was first presented to him. "We know we need to show something. This fight can show who can move on as a factor in the division. We're both in the same boat. It's a fight to see who goes on. The guy who loses is done. There is nothing more that can be done or said for the loser. And there is a little unfinished business between these guys."

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.