ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- Typically, the spirited 12-round draw that middleweight champion James Toney fought with Mike McCallum on Friday night created arguments from supporters of both boxers as to who really won the fight.
Toney, who retained his International Boxing Federation title by virtue of the stalemate, continued the battle during the post-fight interview when he took exception to negative remarks made by McCallum's attorney, Milton Chwasky, and had to be restrained by security guards.
Promoter Bob Arum and Toney's manager, Jackie Kallen, insisted that the Ann Arbor, Mich., slugger had won decisively and that there would be no need for a rematch.
The only thing everyone seemed to agree on was that it is easier to sell shlock than boxing art.
On Dec. 7, America's favorite folk hero, former heavyweight champion George Foreman, attracted 8,200 paying customers to Reno, Nev., to watch him pummel journeyman James Ellis before scoring a quick knockout.
That came a week after a reported 1,500 paid to see Buddy zTC McGirt put on a masterful boxing performance to dethrone World Boxing Council welterweight champion Simon Brown at The Mirage in Las Vegas.
The Toney-McCallum showdown at cavernous Convention Hall drew only 4,308 for what had promised to be a classic matchup of slugger and boxer and youth vs. experience.
The fight lived up to expectations. McCallum, 35, who has few peers as a ring technician, and has lost only once in 44 professional bouts, used all his ring guile against the heavy-fisted Toney, 25.
After having his title stripped by the World Boxing Association last week for failing to meet its mandatory challenger, Steve Collins, McCallum seemed on the brink of stealing Toney's IBC ** crown in the ninth round, when he rocked the champion with two left hooks.
But Toney (28-0-2), who had displayed disdain for McCallum's punching power, began applying pressure in the last three rounds, and his booming right hands had his New York rival fighting for survival at the final bell.
"I threw more punches and felt I had piled up a big lead before he rallied in the closing rounds," said McCallum.
"I thought I pulled it out in the end," said Toney, who could try to add another middleweight title to his collection by challenging .. Julian Jackson, the WBA champion.
The only clear-cut winner Friday night was former middleweight king Marvelous Marvin Hagler, who was to have presented a handsome trophy bearing his name to the McCallum-Toney winner. But Hagler, now a European movie star, left the arena, still clutching the trophy.