-- OR, SIX YEARS & 20 POUNDS LATER, ME & OL' MAN RIVER MIX IT UP AGAIN
Six long years ago when these fighters first met the Ol' Spit Bucket looked forward to the fight with much anticipation ... & after all the blood under the bridge for both fighters since, it made me look forward to this evening's fracas with more than slight trepidation ... As usual, Jelly James couldn't make weight & he laughably turned what was a spurious light heavyweight title fight into presto! ... A cruiserweight title fight - moments after the over - leveraged weigh in ceremony's. Jeez ... I love boxing, the only sport that can change rules & regulations at whim ... Sorta like if the Patriots decided that they were to thin on their defensive line & insisted on a 12th player on defense to play the Super Bowl - & the NFL bent all the rules to accommodate the Pat's ... Anyway's - why do I keep beating my head against an unyieldingly unresponsive concrete wall? - Jelly James flaunted his usual lack of discipline & weighed in at a not so svelte 182 lb.s for a 175 lb. title bout. Yeah, right ... This moke really has his poop droppings together ... McCallum is a different story all together. A once great fighter slowly winding down to the last showdown at the O.D. (on boxing, not drugs) corral. The fact that they had engaged in two of the signature bouts of the early 90's made this lash - up more than reasonably interesting ...
The last installment of their trilogy was no "Thrilla In Manila" but then, how many fights are? Instead we got a strategic & tactical fight that was probably of interest only to purists ... Luckily for you, my dear readers, I be one ... The Bucket is the kinda guy that can get as much outta watching a stylist like Tommy Loughran, Willie Pep, Ismael Laguna or Pernell Whitaker & find it just as engaging as watching bone breakers like Graziano, Liston, "Hurricane" Carter, Shavers, McClennan, Mugabi or Tyson. Granted I don't get the marrow rattling thunder ... but boxing is more than just walking through an opponent. There is a science to the sweet science ... & if you also think of it as the art of survival - y' get the picture ... Hardly any fighter is blessed with the gift of bone crushing power ... So like the rest of us as we struggle through our mundane lives - a fighter compensates. Boxing like life, is a series of compromises ... & every opponent creates new adjustments ... Unfortunately in both Toney's & McCallums careers it appears they've made one or fifteen too many adjustments.
Certain fights, "The Thrilla In Manila" being the most obvious example - enjoin two opponents who have hit the inevitable banana skid that is the downside of all athletic careers. S'mtimes when the stars cross j'z right you get a match up like the aforementioned or a Leonard-Hearns ll, Hagler - Mugabi or goin' deep into the way back machine, Fullmer - Basilio l, Charles - Walcott lV, Ross - McClarnin lll - you catch the drift ... S'mtimes two great fighters who have peaked athletically can summon up one last great effort which coincides symbiotically with their diminishing skills too create a fight for the ages ... Unfortunately, Toney - McCallum lll wasn't one of them.
Not even freakin' close. By now y'all know the result. Suffice it t' say it was a dismal affair, a sad, distant echo of their two previous clashes. At this point in their respective careers, McCallum is surviving on guile alone ... & Toney can't seem to get up from under the weight of all the fast food containers he's seemingly buried under.
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