David Haye, one of the leading lights of the UK boxing scene and current WBA heavyweight champion, has called into question James Toney’s belief that he can make a a successful transition to mixed martial arts.
Toney recently intimated that he wanted to fight Haye, and as a boxer the British fighter is full of admiration for the 41 year-old.
“James Toney is the purest of the pure at boxing,” Haye tells Yahoo! Sports. “He is so brilliant at boxing and his skills are so ingrained in him that he’s been an elite level fighter, in shape or not in shape, his skills alone put him on another level as a boxer.”
When it comes to MMA however, Haye, who has been a fan of the sport for a number of years, thinks Toney has bit off more than he can chew.
“Six months of training isn’t going to be enough. As a UFC fan, I know two or three years wouldn’t be enough. How many times has Toney sprawled in his life? 500? How many leg kicks has he taken in his life? 300? How many Kimura attempts has he defended? 140? Even if he’s done double that amount, he wouldn’t have nearly the experience needed to win a UFC fight.”
Haye also stresses that this is not just a criticism of Toney specifically, but rather that he is speaking from his own experiences. In fact it was only a couple of years that Haye, who’s father was a Karate teacher, talked about making the transition when his boxing career comes to an end.
“I know from training in MMA myself that the wrestling aspect ruins your punching power,” he reveals. “After a minute of grappling, your arms, back and shoulders fill with blood and even if you then find space to throw punches, your power is suddenly crap.
“And I hit a lot harder and I’m so much faster than James, and I couldn’t land a punch on fighters when all they wanted to do was take me down to the ground. James is a much more static fighter than I am, and is going to get thrown on his back immediately by Randy. I admire Toney’s spirit and boxing skills. But he’s delusional here.”
Haye’s confident, cocky manner may rub some people up the wrong way but I have to say I liked his insightful and knowledgeable views on this particular issue. It’s one thing hearing it from MMA fighters who are well aware of these factors, but from a mainstream point of view it will hit home with more impact when it comes from another boxer.
In the longer term it will be interesting to see if Haye himself does still have a desire to compete in the sport. He seems like a much better candidate than Toney to do so.
For one thing he’s still young at just 29 and has indicated that he doesn’t intend to continue boxing beyond a handful more fights. He has a genuine interest in the sport, and claims to have previous experience in karate, judo and has dabbled in BJJ. At 6ft 3″, 220lbs and wielding an 80-inch reach, he could be a very interesting addition at 205lbs if he dedicated himself to MMA training full time as Brock Lesnar did when he made the move from pro-wrestling.
In the mean-time well have to make do with Toney, and he’ll get the chance to prove that boxer’s can successfully compete in MMA when he takes on hall-of-famer Randy Couture at UFC 118 on August 28th.