The Rematch: Can Tae Bo Guru Blanks Condition Toney To Victory?

By Francis Walker
Updated: January 5, 2007

Samuel Peter (left) and James Toney

Samuel Peter (left) and James Toney

NEW YORK — James Toney and Samuel Peter are going to do it again. This time, Toney (69-5-3, 43 KOs) has hired the services of Tae Bo fitness sensation and martial artist Billy Blanks to help him prepare for his rematch with Peter (27-1, 22 KOs) on Saturday night at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, FL.

The winner will become the mandatory challenger for WBC heavyweight champion Oleg Maskaev. Showtime will televise the bout at 10 p.m. ET/PT. Peter-Toney II is the main event of a doubleheader telecast.

In the co-feature, WBA super welterweight champion, Jose Antonio Rivera (38-4-1, 24 KOs) battles undefeated Travis Simms (24-0, 18 KOs).

Toney’s first fight with Peter was highly anticipated. A former IBF middleweight (160), super middleweight (168) and cruiserweight (190) champion, Toney seeks his fourth division title in the heavyweight division.
Peter is a young heavyweight contender looking for his first heavyweight title shot. The results of their first bout were disappointing.
Both boxers were out of shape, which affected their punching power and consistency. Toney was 233 pounds, as Peter weighed in at 257. Many believe that if Toney was in better shape he would have beaten Peter convincingly.
Blanks, who attended Peter-Toney I as a spectator, has worked with Toney the last couple of months in preparation for his rematch with Peter.
“Billy is like me, a Virgo,” Toney said on a conference call. “When we are determined to do something, we are going to get it done. He works hard and I have seen what he has done”.
“Everybody says we do Tai-Bo. We do not do Tai-Bo. We do war. We go to war. Billy used to be a fighter himself. Everybody forgets about that and it has been great working with him. He trains me everyday.”
Blanks has gone as far as to hire a personal chef, in addition to changing Toney’s training habits.
“I have him on a diet where he is eating 1,500 calories a day, burning fat to get his body to look the way he wanted it to look and perform the way he wants it to perform” Blanks said.
“Right now we are on a fat burner’s diet. I have somebody cooking for him and he eats five meals a day, drinking a lot of water, which he has never done as much as he is doing now”.
“So he is cleaning his body out. His body is going to look like it has never looked before and his performance is going to even be better.”
Blanks understands exactly what Toney needs to perform at his best. Blanks was a fighter himself.
“I have done karate ever since I was 12 years old,” Blanks said. “I made the United States Karate Team and competed with the United States for several years. Then I won the Golden Glove championship and won the Champ of the Champions”.
“I have the ability as a fighter to understand what a fighter needs. As soon as I got a chance to work with James, my goal was to make him become the athlete that he is. What we have been doing now is going to make him be so much better in the ring.”
Blanks has worked with other top athletes such as Shaquille O’Neal, Wayne Gretsky, and Magic Johnson. In addition to inventing Tae Bo, Blanks also has an acting career. He appeared in more than a dozen films, including the 1997 thriller Kiss the Girls featuring Morgan Freeman.
Toney-Peter I Revisited
Following the decision of their first bout, Toney and his promoter Dan Goosen cried foul, protested the results, and was granted an immediate rematch by the WBC. The World Boxing Council’s Board of Governors voted 21-10 on an immediate rematch following Peter’s controversial victory.
The WBC strongly considered the vastly divided opinions among the media and fans. Two ringside judges ridiculously scored the match for Peter 116-111. There was no way that Peter won eight of the twelve rounds, including a point deduction he received in the ninth round for double-rabbit punching.
Toney was ahead 115-112 on the third judges’ scorecard. Overall, the fight was disappointing.
Peter frequently threw one punch at a time and consistently missed with his hard right hand. Peter did not throw his first meaningful combination until the beginning of the ninth round.
Toney noticeably had a pretty good left jab-straight right combination that landed in the beginning of each round. Toney slipped and blocked punches, but would have lengthy stretches of inactivity. Peter, throwing mostly one punch at a time, was very slow.
In boxing, when a fighter (especially a heavyweight) throws punches that are slow and miss their mark that is a clear indication that they are either hurt or out of shape. Toney never hurt Peter in the contest, so it was clear that the Nigerian powerhouse was out of shape.
In the fifth round, Peter noticeably hurt Toney with an overhand right behind his ear. Toney held on to the ropes to retain his balance and clear his head. Peter did not follow up with anything. He let Toney off the hook.
Conditioning was a key issue for Toney and many believe that Peter would have clearly lost had Toney been in better shape. With Blanks in Toney’s corner, conditioning should not be an issue in the rematch.
“Before, I guess, I was not training too hard because when I went home, I would not be sleepy,” Toney added. “But believe me, now I go home every night sleepy. Just try to get home, get to that couch and get to that bed. I am in great shape and I am ready to go.”