Monday, February 12, 2007


It took only a few weeks of rigid training with Tae Bo fitness guru Billy Blanks to do it.

Hall-of-famer Mike "The Bodysnatcher" McCallum couldn't do it. Roy Jones, Jr. couldn't do it nor could Evander "The Real Deal" Holyfield for that matter. What is it that Billy Blanks has done you ask?

Fulfilling the Christmas wish of many, Billy Blanks has finally gotten James Toney to stop talking.

Toney and Blanks recently formed an unlikely alliance where opposites did attract. Toney, often appearing portly and rotund has teamed with Tae Bo creator Blanks who, according to his own web-site, is "Out of bed by 5:30am and still teaches at least two Tae Bo classes and a few martial arts classes each day at his studio in Los Angeles." Blanks sports a tight, chiseled physique that looks like it may have been carved from either black diamond or mahogany.

These two mismatched souls have teamed up in order to prepare Toney for his rematch with heavyweight contender Samuel Peter. It's a pairing of the ultimate underachiever in Toney and the ultimate disciplinarian in Blanks. "It's like that old show the Odd Couple," chuckled one jaded observer, "Toney is the crude and messy Oscar Madison while Blanks is the tidy and polished Felix Unger."

In the short time the pair has been together, Blanks has put Toney through a grueling program of regimented training coupled with clean eating. When asked if he was doing anything differently under Blanks' tutelage, Toney responded, "Yes, throwing up. Everything has changed."

For Toney, whose mother is a pastry chef, the lust of deli shops and calorie rich food has always been one of his sweet temptations. One must remember that the 5'9 1/2" Toney fought as a 157-pound middleweight when he began his career, but he has scaled close to 240 pounds for recent heavyweight bouts. Whatever the case, the connoisseur in Toney maintains the Blanks diet hasn't been a real issue for him. "It hasn't been a challenge. I just haven't been going (to the deli). I've done everything Billy said to do. I've been getting the proper rest and I've just been doing it. You will see on January 6th."

"Lights Out" has become nearly as famous for his mouth and forked tongue as he has for his fists during his eighteen years in the ring. He claims the training has been so painful and arduous that he is too tired to talk much anymore. Sure, Toney still talks, but he's mime-like compared to his former self. "I am being quiet because of training," says Toney. "I'm too busy working with Billy killing me everyday. I've been quiet because I've been working. We've been at it seven hours a day, seven days a week."

During the short press tour to hype the January rematch with the "Nigerian Nightmare" Toney made a brief appearance in New York City, but he skipped the press junket a day later in Florida because he claimed he was eager to return to California to continue his studies under the watchful eye of teacher Blanks who has sold over 3 million of his workout fitness videos. Blanks has helped mold and shape the bodies of numerous Hollywood types from Pamela Anderson and Farrah Fawcett to big name sports stars like Wayne Gretzky and Magic Johnson.

Blanks, a married father of two is the picture of health and vitality. He has vibrant, chocolate-colored skin, clear, bright eyes and teeth as white as ivory. The eloquent Blanks claims the boxing world is going to see a new and improved James Toney on January 6th - and also less of him. "Right now his workouts are making him eat the fat off his body, so his body is really slimming down. You guys are going to see that he's a different person. We have about three weeks left. People know he has good skills, but he's never had to push those skills to the limit, so now his athletic ability is being pushed out of him. What we have been doing is going to make him be so much better in the ring."

Toney and Peter met in the ring for the first time in Los Angeles back in September. It was a close fight where most members of the ringside press had Toney as the close decision winner after twelve rounds. However, two of the three official judge's scorecards went the other way and they tabulated Samuel Peter as the winner. The 38 year-old Toney has bristled at the idea that he lost to Peter, a man he sees as his lesser when it comes to ring skill and achievements. It was Toney's first official loss in 9 years.

When asked what he was going to do differently in the rematch to counteract the advantages of youth, speed and punching power against the wild rushes and crude clubbing swings of the 26 year-old Peter, Toney was nonchalant; "You know me. James is going to fight like James is going to fight. I don't have any strategy. I walk in and decide to do what I do. My strategy is whatever he wants to do and we've got to take care of him. I can fight against the ropes or in the middle of the ring. So, whatever he wants to do we'll do, just like I said before - the first time I beat him.

This time, however, I'm going to do it more soundly. It's going to be terrible what is going to happen to him."

Then, incredulously, James Toney was through talking.

Nuff said.

December 2006

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