Bristol’s former ABA champion Sam Pomphrey is returning to the ring for the fight of his life as he prepares to take on the legendary three-weight world champion James ‘Lights Out’ Toney.
This David v. Goliath clash is being staged at Action Indoor Sports in Whitchurch on Saturday, November 25, as up-and-coming promoter Matt Crouch continues his policy of bringing big name Americans to box in Bristol. Last year Joe Calzaghe’s former foe, Jeff ‘Left Hook’ Lacey, fought Tony Oakey at the same venue.
In 2011, Pomphrey became the first Bristolian to win a senior ABA title in more than 30 years when he beat Michael Watson to win the light-heavyweight crown. Since then he has briefly fought as a professional winning two fights in 2015, but has preferred to concentrate on his business as a personal trainer. However, the prospect of boxing against an all-time great like Toney was too much to resist. “I haven’t boxed for two years now so when Matt offered me this chance, I could hardly turn it down, could I?,” he said. “I’m ready to give it another go and see what happens,” added the former Broad Plain amateur.
“In 2011 I trained as hard as I ever have and gave it my all and I’m prepared to do the same again this time.
“I’ve always boxed because I love boxing, I never set out to make loads of money out of boxing or to be a world champion, I just wanted to do the best that I could do. So who better than James Toney to get me pumped up again!”
Toney, the former IBF middleweight, super middleweight and cruiserweight champion, has fought some of the biggest names in the sport including Evander Holyfield, Roy Jones, jnr, and Iran Barkely and was twice voted ‘Fighter of the Year’ by Ring Magazine. Now 49, he has still been active in the ring and won the lightly regarded WBF heavyweight title earlier this year, so is still likely to give 27-year-old Pomphrey a tough challenge.
Promoter Crouch approached Pomphrey when some big name fighters turned the fight down but he says that he believes the Bristolian can win the fight in true ‘Rocky’ fashion. “Danny Williams who knocked Mike Tyson out, Michael Sprott, Tim Witherspoon all turned it down because Toney is still one of the toughest blokes out there,” he said.
“Sam was helping me out with some personal training sessions and I saw how fit he is and how all the fundamentals of boxing are still there, so I offered him the chance and he jumped at it. The success of the Jeff Lacy show last year has opened a few doors for me in the United States. Toney’s advisers won’t just talk to anyone, so if this fight also goes well there’s a chance that someone like Roy Jones, jnr, might be next to come to Bristol.”
Pomphrey has set up training camp at Crouch’s Southmead Boxing Club and has dedicated the next month to getting super fit. It is an exciting time for the family because Sam’s younger brother George, a promising amateur, has been progressing through the early rounds of the national development championships and was due to box in the quarter-final in Truro this weekend.