Toney To Be Suspended, Ruiz Un-retires

By Francis Walker
Updated: May 11, 2005

James Toney

NEW YORK — James Toney was reported by New York Athletic Commission for testing positive for a banned performance-enhancing substance called nandrolone following his WBA heavyweight title victory against John Ruiz on April 30, at Madison Square Garden.

Toney became the second middleweight champion in more than 100 years to win a heavyweight championship when he defeated won a 12-round unanimous decision against John Ruiz, quickly retired following the bout. Ruiz, the first Latino heavyweight champion in boxing history, announced his un-retirement this week.

If the report remains accurate, Toney-Ruiz will be declared a no-contest since Toney failed a post-fight drug examination. He will also face a six-month suspension and a possible fine, as Ruiz will retain his WBA heavyweight title.

Nandrolone, also known as Deca-Durabolin, naturally occurs in the human body and can be easily detected through urine tests. The International Olympic Committee has set a limit of 2 nanograms per 0.0338 of a fluid ounce of urine. An athlete is accused of doping if they tested above the limit.

Ruiz’ return and Toney’s possible suspension more than likely has scratched Toney’s proposed unification bout against IBF champion, Chris Byrd on July 23.

Instead, Ruiz, perhaps the most unpopular of the heavyweight champions because of his rugged style could finally meet Byrd in the first phase of unifying the world heavyweight championship.

Klitschko vs. Rahman/Barrett “interim” champion

Speaking of heavyweight championships, WBC heavyweight champ, Vitali Klitschko will face the winner of the WBC “interim” heavyweight title fight between top ranked contenders Hasim Rahman and Monte Barrett on July 23.

Klitschko suffered injuries to his legs and is recovering from back surgery. He was suppose to fight the No. 1-ranked Rahman on April 30, but that fight may not happen.

Rahman, a former heavyweight champion, famous for both his 2001 knockout victory and KO loss to Lennox Lewis, will meet Barrett. The winner of the bout will have “interim” championship status.

Klitschko will have until September to fight the Rahman-Barrett winner. If Klitschko is unable to, then the “interim” champion will be decalired the new WBC heavyweight champion.

Trinidad vs. Wright

What could be the 2005 “Fight of the Year,” Felix Trinidad (42-1, 35 KOs) will meet IBF 154-pound champion, Winky Wright (48-3, 25 KOs) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on May 14.

Trinidad has has many legendary bouts against many world champions: Osacr De La Hoya, Pernell Whitaker, Fernando Vargas, Bernard Hopkins, David Reid, William Joppy, Oba Carr, and more. However, he has never fought a southpaw with the skills Wright has.

Wright, who fought his entire career at 154 pounds, makes is 160-pound, middleweight debut against Trinidad. Wright is coming off two 12-round decisions against Sugar Shane Mosley. Wright has to box, jab, move, and do not stand in front of Trinidad’s devastating power the way Ricardo Mayorga did in October.

Mayorga was KO’d in round eight. Wright, known for his tight defense and counter punching, is not known for his punching power. The question remains if Wright has enough strength to keep Trinidad off a balanced attack.

Trinidad-Wright will be distributed on HBO pay-per-view television at a suggested retail of $49.95.

Hopkins vs. Taylor

Jermain Taylor (23-0, 17 KOs) accepted $1.8 million to challenge Undisputed world middleweight champion, Bernard Hopkins for his WBA, WBC, IBF, and WBO 160-pound championship belts on July 16.

Hopkins (46-2-1, 36 KOs), who will command at least $3 million, will be making a middleweight record 21st consecutive title defense. Hopkins has held the IBF middleweight title since April 1995 and has not lost a fight since dropping a 12-round decision to Roy Jones, Jr. in May 1993.

Hopkins may be 40, but very few are giving Taylor, an undefeated 26-year-old U.S. Olympic bronze medalist from Little Rock, Arkansas a chance to pull off perhaps the biggest upset since Antonio Tarver KO’d Roy Jones, Jr. last year.

Hopkins has fought fighters with diverse boxing skills, punching power, hand speed/quickness and abilities. Hopkins is the only fighter to ever knockout Felix Trinidad (KO 12) and Oscar De La Hoya (KO 9), who is now Hopkins’ promoter.

Hopkins has defeated at least six different current or previous world champions. It’s very difficult to imagine that Taylor can present a style of fight that Hopkins has never seen before. Accept that it has been a long time since Hopkins has fought a fighter with a strong jab than Taylor, who appears to be more aggressive than he’s ever been.

Bottom line is Taylor deserves the opportunity to fight for the undisputed middleweight championship. Hopkins-Taylor is an intriguing battle between an aging Hall of Fame, but strong champion against a much younger, rising talent.