Boxing: Bobby Gunn and James Toney in a room. Never going to be tea and biscuits.

It may surprise some readers to learn Bobby Gunn causes the biggest spike in readership whenever I cobble (do you see what I did there) together a news or opinion piece on the plucky prizefighter. Avoyd Mayweather holds nothing on the scrapper once spectacularly referred to as “the most ferocious fighter since Jack Dempsey”. The outlandishness of the claim further enhanced by the one round mauling at the fists of Enzo Maccarinelli that followed shortly after the words were uttered. Gunn also fought Tomasz Adamek for another portion of the Cruiserweight title, so his notoriety isn’t entirely hollow. I ducked any coverage of his bare-knuckle contests on principle but I must confess to a curious interest in his next bout following a heated press conference.

A clash with James Toney. Yes, the real one.

Any fight involving James Toney, all 43 years of him now, is likely to cause at least a mild stir in the boxing world. He may be far removed from his prime and indeed far removed from even peripheral significance, but Toney can still talk and usually aggressively and confrontationally. He looked ill at ease in the inauspicious surroundings of the low-rent press conference his April 7th clash with Gunn afforded him. A bemused look stretching across his fleshy face.

Gunn for his part, was close to penitent in the face of a modern boxing legend. Offering deference in the present of greatness.

When Toney got to his feet to speak the anticipation was dulled perhaps by the discomfort many felt at seeing such a once bright star reduced to shuffling around at this level, but the anticipation was still there. It didn’t take long for Toney to find Gunn’s fuse. In a sport built on pride and sense of self-worth, Toney’s assertion that he didn’t even know who Bobby Gunn was proved all the ignition required.

As a veteran of such occasions Toney didn’t flinch and smartly kept hold of the microphone to ensure dominance in any spat. Then Toney, moving on from the insinuation that he was a class above Gunn the street fighter, added provocatively; “I don’t get paid to fight on the street”. The final and perhaps decisive blow was the introduction of Gunn’s Gypsy roots, using them as an insult. Gunn was incensed at any mention of his heritage and a ill-advised scuffle threatened to break out.

Thankfully, there were no beer bottles, tripods or feeble security men in sight and calm was restored.

It is an essentially meaningless fight but be assured, by the time April 7th arrives, there will be a crowd greater than just the morbidly curious.

To start your voyage of discovery watch the video below:

Boxing opinion and insight by David Payne

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