Go ahead and leave the lights on, Ignacio. Boxing legend James Toney is happy to turn them out.
First up: Those lamps behind Kenny Lemos’ eyes in the Rumble in the Rockies II eight-round main event.
“I will put on a great show (tonight). It’s going to be a short fight,” “Lights Out” Toney said Wednesday. “If this guy don’t pay his electric bill, his lights are going out.”
Toney’s had plenty of practice at the switch during his 85-fight (74-8-3) career that’s spanned 12 world championships and featured fights – and victories – against the likes of Roy Jones Jr. and Evander Holyfield. And he wasn’t just handed the moniker “Lights Out” – of his 74 wins, 45 have come by knockout.
By the end of tonight’s event at the Sky Ute Casino and Resort, Toney said that number will be one higher.
“Knock him out. Lights out,” Toney said. “That’s what I do. Bang ’em up.”
Lemos, who’s from Denver and holds a record of 12-7-2 with eight KOs, has a different plan.
“I am very excited to have this opportunity with a legend,” Lemos said in a news release to The Durango Herald. “This isn’t about money or bad blood. It is about me being fortunate enough to get this chance in my life. I am in great shape and coming out of the ring with the biggest win in my career.”
A victory would be big for either fighter – but maybe biggest for Toney.
At the age of 44, Toney’s critics already have dismissed the future hall-of-famer as a has-been, and he’s reeling from a vicious, unanimous-decision loss to Lucas Browne (16-0-0) on April 28 in Australia.
Toney admitted that fight jarred him – just not in the way his detractors think.
“That was nobody’s fault but mine,” he said. “I failed to do what I needed to do.”
But instead of pushing him toward a much-deserved retirement, Toney said the loss simply refocused him on the only thing that matters to him at this stage in his career: a long-promised undisputed heavyweight title.
And Toney insisted he isn’t going anywhere he finally wears that belt.
To get it, long-time manager John Arthur said Toney’s chasing after the 100-fight mark. Since the world’s top 10 won’t fight him – cowards, Toney called them in so many words – Toney will take on anyone to get there.
“It could be King Kong,” Arthur said. “I couldn’t care less.
“We’re going to keep climbing.”
The Sky Ute – which landed by far it’s biggest fight in 15 years to leave marketing coordinator Tracy Leppert doing “cartwheels in my office” – is Rung 1 on that ladder.
To start the climb Toney said he’s been training three times a day since his April defeat to get down to weight and back into Holyfield-fight (2003) shape.
He’s already thinking past Lemos, too – going “old school,” training hard and fighting every month to keep moving up the rungs.
There’s no shortage of people who say he can’t do it, that it’s time to hang up the gloves and turn the lights out one more time – this time on his boxing career.
But Toney had a message for them, too:
“It’s BS. It’s all up here,” Toney said, pointing to his head. “I’m going to show everyone on (tonight) how young I am: I’m 44 years young.
“I’m not going anywhere until I’m the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.”
Doors open at 6:30 p.m. with the undercard starting at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $25, $35 and $45 and can be purchased at the Sky Ute Casino Box Offce or at skyutecasino.com.