The very thought of James Toney’s victory over Mike Sheppard on Saturday night overtaking George Foreman’s amazing record of being the oldest world heavyweight champion of all time almost made me choke on my cornflakes on Sunday morning.
Toney, a former great no doubt but heavily into his twilight years at 48, defeated Sheppard via stoppage in Michigan after nineteen months out to claim a title definitely not recognized close to one of the top four or five in the sport.
In contrast to defeating Sheppard, a 20-loss journeyman for a belt low down the food chain, Foreman returned from a decade in the wilderness back in 1987 to score 23 stoppages from 24 before losing a challenge to Evander Holyfield in 1991.
‘Big George’ would lose again when facing Tommy Morrison two years later before Foreman took on Michael Moorer at the age of 45 and defied the odds to become a fully-fledged title holder at 200 pounds plus.
That achievement has held up for a 23rd year so far, and for my money will continue to do so for some time to come.
Wladimir Klitschko, at 41 years of age, could come close should he remain active over the next five years, but as it stands there aren’t too many more who could even come close to matching what Foreman managed in the 1990’s.
Holyfield himself tried and only just failed against Nikolai Valuev in 2008 at the age of 46, whilst Toney hasn’t mixed it in anywhere near the very top company for a period of over four years now.