ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- Disappointed at having retained his International Boxing Federation middleweight crown by virtue of a rousing 12-round draw with Mike McCallum at Convention Hall last night, James Toney issued a challenge to McCallum "to settle things tomorrow."
It won't happen, but a rematch would be proper after this classic showdown between a boxer (McCallum) and slugger (Toney) and youth vs. experience.
Toney, 25, of Ann Arbor, Mich., gave away 10 years of experience to McCallum, who was stripped of his World Boxing Association title last week for failing to meet Steve Collins, the mandatory challenger. But he matched the Jamaican's abundant boxing gifts with his ferocity and power.
As he did in his 11th-round knockout of Michael Nunn to win the title last May, Toney came close to taking it out of the judges' hands in the final round when he staggered McCallum with four booming left hooks.
McCallum's legs turned rubbery, but he was saved by the final bell.
Toney, with his pit-bull mentality, is known and feared for his quick temper. But he did not rant and rave over the decision.
"I thought I pulled it out in the end, but I'm not the judge," he said. "My trainer, Bill Miller, told me to suck it up in the last two rounds, and I thought that gave me the edge."
McCallum, who fights out of Brooklyn, N.Y., said, "I thought I won. I threw the most punches and was in the fight more than he was. He may have won the last few rounds, but I was well ahead by then."
The only real winner last night was former champion Marvelous Marvin Hagler. As an incentive, promoter Bob Arum had planned have Hagler, the dominant middleweight of the 1980s, present a trophy to the victor. Instead, Hagler, who served as a ringside commentator for the TVKO pay-per-view event, got to keep the silverware.
The battle spilled over into the post-fight interview. Arum tried to settle things by declaring Toney the "unofficial" winner in the view of ringside reporters. When McCallum's attorney, Milton Chwasky, protested, Toney jumped off the stage, trying to grab Chwasky, but was stopped short by Trump Plaza security guards.
Toney's manager, Jackie Kallen, called McCallum's supporters "bad sports" and denied interest in granting him a rematch.
The fight was watched by only 4,023 in spacious Convention Hall. McCallum (42-1-1) was guaranteed $500,000, or $25,000 more than Toney (28-0-2).
If Toney snubs McCallum, his next defense could come against Julian Jackson, who owns the World Boxing Council title.
It was a great learning experience for Toney, who, as the fight wore on, seemed to adjust to McCallum's withering body attack and quick combinations.
By superior boxing, McCallum carried the early rounds. Toney gained respect with his punching prowess, shaking McCallum repeatedly with overhand rights and bristling hooks.
But McCallum used his ring guile to avoid serious trouble until his 35- year-old legs began to betray him in the last three rounds, which Toney dominated on the scorecards, salvaging his
The draw had to be more costly to McCallum, who, with no championship belt in his possession, may have a difficult time regaining the crown.
He had complained over being "The Invisible Man," with fight aficionados slow to recognize his skills. Those skills were in strong evidence again last night against a younger, stronger rival, but, it seems, fame will forever elude McCallum.
McCallum started quickly, scoring repeatedly with crisp combinations in the first round while Toney seemed to be looking to land one big punch.
Known as "The Body Snatcher," McCallum worked over Toney's midsection and ribs with short hooks and danced out of danger when Toney tried to counter with overhand rights.