If the fight is even remotely as entertaining and exciting as the press conference, fans are in for The Fight of the Year Saturday, Sept. 2, when world-ranked heavyweights James “Lights Out” Toney (69-4-2, 43 KOs) and Samuel “The Nigerian Nightmare’’ Peter (26-1, 22 KOs) collide in a 12-round World Boxing Council (WBC) elimination bout at STAPLES Center on SHOWTIME (10 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the west coast). Toney is ranked No. 2 in the WBC, one notch above Peter.
Tempers flared toward the end of Tuesday’s presser at The Palm Restaurant in downtown Los Angeles after Toney took exception to comments made by Peter’s promoter (Dino Duva) and manager (Ivaylo Gotzev).
A former three-time world champion, Toney was peeved at Duva for calling him “dumb” for accepting the match when Toney currently is next in line to fight for the WBC title. Gotzev angered Toney by standing up and shouting that he had enough of the “(Toney promoter) Dan Goossen and Toney show and that it was Samuel Peter’s time.’’
At one point, an enraged Toney stood up from his seat at the dais and began to remove his jacket. He took a couple steps toward Team Peter before being stopped by members of his camp. Moments later, he threw a glass of water at Gotzev.
The press conference came to a premature end shortly thereafter.
Below are quotes from AEG CFO, Dan Beckerman, Toney and Peter.
DAN BECKERMAN, AEG CFO
“Speaking on behalf of everyone at AEG and STAPLES Center, we are ecstatic to be part of such a great event. This is a fantastic match-up, one that follows in a long line of great match-ups and fights at STAPLES Center.
“Far and away the heavyweight division is still boxing’s most popular weight class. Our fans want to see the heavyweights, deserve to see the heavyweights and will see the heavyweights on Saturday, Sept. 2. The winner of this fight will go a long way in helping to sort out what is a wide-open heavyweight division. We are thrilled to be part of it.’’
“I am No. 1, and I will prove it on Sept. 2.
“I thought Peter won his fight against (Wladimir) Klitschko and, even though it was a draw, I thought I won against (Hasim) Rahman. (So) this is the heavyweight championship right here. The Eastern European fighters were put there by the boxing organizations.
“I am the only heavyweight champion. On Sept. 2, I am going to show James Toney at his best. I am looking forward to it.
“I want to thank Peter for stepping up to the plate and taking the fight against me. He is a tough guy, but he is no James Toney.
“Being the best fighter in the world, I have to stay busy. I am no joke. I am not someone to mess with. I take the sport of boxing very seriously.
“I am like a John Elway or Joe Montana. I feel no pressure. I am always ready to fight the best, any place, any time. Someone has to pay the electric bill because the lights are going to go out.
“I like to beat up people and I have fun doing it. It is going to be a short fight, but the beating I give Peter will make the fight seem like a long one.
“He is talking like he is going to go through me like Swiss cheese. I am a natural born fighter. I am going to go right through Peter.”
“For me to get a fight with Toney right now is a miracle.
“Toney is a great champion, a Hall of Famer. When he is in shape, he can make anybody look bad. He beat (John) Ruiz), (Evander) Holyfield and drew with Rahman. Toney has the heart of a real man, and I commend him for that. I give him credit for taking this fight. But he had a guaranteed fight for the WBC title in his back pocket, and now he is fighting me.
“That is a big mistake. I thank him for this opportunity. I owe him a debt of gratitude. But I will beat him.
“This is a crossroads fight for both of us. If I don’t win, they are going to say I did not perform well against the very best. Toney has to win because of who he is and where he is at.
“The upside for me is tremendous. I am very excited and ready to take my game to the next level. Boxing is my life, and my vision and dream is to become world champion.
“I do not do my fighting at a press conference. I do my fighting in the ring. Toney is Toney. He likes to talk a lot and act crazy. I am no Rahman or Ruiz. On Sept. 2, Toney will not survive in the ring. I will put 260 pounds on him. I will get rid of him within five rounds. I will make Toney regret that he took this fight.”