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TONEY SHOOTING FOR HEAVYWEIGHT CROWN.

Byline: Robert Morales Staff Writer

It doesn't take much to rile James ``Lights Out'' Toney, so he will probably enter tonight's heavyweight contest against Rydell Booker in a bad mood.

For some fighters, that might be a detriment. But Toney has always seemed to feed off his emotions. Toney and Booker got into a heated exchange at Monday's final news conference. At Wednesday's weigh-in, Toney slapped Booker in the face.

``He kept talking, not respecting me,'' Toney said of the events that took place at the news conference. Toney will take on Booker in the 12-round main event at Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula in a title-elimination bout. The winner is guaranteed a shot at World Boxing Council champion Vitali Klitschko, who first has to get past Danny Williams on Dec. 11.

Toney is currently ranked No. 1 by the WBC and Booker is No. 7. The undercard will begin at 4:15 p.m., with the main event scheduled for 5:30 p.m. The fight will be shown tape-delayed on Fox's ``Best Damn Sports Show Period'' at 8:30 p.m.

``He kept running his mouth, and I said, `Let's do this thing right now,' '' Toney said. ``Hell, no, I don't like this guy.''

Toney (67-4-2, 43 KOs) has not fought since Oct. 4, when he stopped former champion Evander Holyfield in the ninth round in Las Vegas. He tore his left Achilles tendon in January while training for a February fight against Jameel McCline and had surgery.

Toney, who has won major world championships in the middleweight, super middleweight and cruiserweight divisions, said he is anxious to resume what has been a superb career.

``I feel fantastic,'' Toney said. ``Seriously. I feel good. I'm hungry. This is like a championship fight for me. I'm fighting for my life right now. I can't wait for the bell to ring.''

Approximately three hours before the weigh-in, Toney said he expected to tip the scales at around 224 pounds. He weighed in at 227. Booker, who did not retaliate Wednesday, weighed 220.

``I'm not fat, either,'' said Toney, of Los Angeles via Ann Arbor, Mich. ``I have eight percent body fat.''

Provided Toney gets by Booker, he will be looking for his first major world title shot in the heavyweight division.

``I want the WBC title. I want all the titles,'' said Toney, 36. ``I want all the best fighters out there.''

Toney said he particularly wants to fight Klitschko.

``Everybody thinks he is the true heavyweight champion of the world,'' Toney said. ``I'm going to be real with you; they both stink.''

They being Vitali and his younger brother, Wladimir, who is scheduled to fight DaVarryl Williamson on Oct. 2 in Las Vegas.

Booker, 23, of Detroit, is 22-0 with 12 knockouts.

Robert Morales, (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2213

robert.morales(at)sgvn.com

FIGHT NIGHT

Who: James Toney vs. Rydell Booker

When: Card begins at 4:15 p.m. at Pechanga Resort & Casino, Temecula

TV: 8:30 p.m. (tape delay) on `Best Damn Sports Show Period,' FSN

CAPTION(S):

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FIGHT NIGHT (see text)
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Sep 23, 2004
Words:517
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