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Re: James Toney vs. Bernard Hopkins @ 190 in 2003
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Bernard Fernandez | Hopkins, Toney debate whose neighborhood was tougher
Now that the James Toney-Bernard Hopkins fight has been made, the rhetoric between the street-wise champions figures to fly as much as the punches eventually will. (The fight will be on HBO pay-per-view on Aug. 9, probably at Las Vegas' Mandalay Bay.) Sure, sure, Toney (66-4-2, 42 KOs), the IBF cruiserweight champ, and Hopkins (42-2-1, 31 KOs), the undisputed middleweight titlist who will pack on more than a few pounds in order to challenge Toney, now have lifestyles of the rich and famous. But their roots are firmly sunk into the inner-city concrete from which they sprang, and they already are engaging in a classic case of verbal one-upmanship.
Today's debate topic: My old 'hood is tougher than yours. The opening statement shall be made by Mr. Hopkins, 38, now of Newark, Del. He is the proud driver of a gleaming Bentley, but his formative years were spent in the Badlands of North Philadelphia. Mr. Hopkins once served 5 years in Graterford Prison for strong-arm robbery, and his home life was so impoverished he recalls brushing roaches off bread before he ate it. "James Toney makes out like he's this big gangsta,'' Hopkins said. "Where I came from, we laugh at guys like him. He's a wannabe. I was in Graterford, where there were guys who'd want to kill you if you looked at them wrong. James Toney wouldn't have lasted 5 minutes inside those walls. "And he makes out like he's from Detroit. Come on, the man came up in Ann Arbor.
The only Big House they got there is the Michigan football stadium. "When he was the IBF middleweight champion and I was the No. 1 contender in 1993, Toney moved up to super middleweight to fight [then-IBF 168-pound champ] Iran Barkley, who was older, slower and less skilled than me. He ran from me then and he really don't want no part of me now. I've been owing him this butt-whippin' for a long time. Jackie Kallen [Toney's manager then] even told me once, 'We don't need you because James is lazy, and you're not.' '' Thank you, Mr. Hopkins. Now taking his turn at the podium is Mr. Toney, 34, who once threatened to kill the aforementioned Ms. Kallen for some perceived transgression. Although Mr. Toney now resides in Sherman Oaks, Calif., and drives a Lincoln Navigator, he was born in a poor section of Grand Rapids, Mich., spent 7 years, as Mr. Hopkins noted, in Ann Arbor - Mr. Toney insists there are, indeed, mean streets there - and honed his craft in Detroit. "Let Bernard Hopkins brag about having been in prison,'' he said. "Tell him we ain't fighting in a jail cell, we ain't fighting in the street.
We're going to be in the ring, and that's my turf. I own it like I'm gonna own him. I'm gonna give him a butt-kicking like he won't believe. "He beat Felix Trinidad. So what? I ain't Trinidad. I'm me. He ain't never been in with nobody like me. And what's this stuff about him putting down Ann Arbor? Tell him to go there and I'll show him how tough it is, and he isn't. "One more thing: I trained in Detroit. To be a real fighter, you have to go to Detroit. That's the bottom line. Ain't nobody tough ever come out of Philly, and that includes Joe Frazier. He's really from South Carolina.''