Wirt County’s Mike Sheppard ready for James “Lights Out” Toney fight

Wirt County fighter Mike Sheppard is leaving today to head to Ypsilanti and the Convocation Center of Eastern Michigan University where he will fight Saturday night for the vacant World Boxing Foundation (WBF) heavyweight title against James “Lights Out” Toney.

The event, which is set for a 5 p.m. EST start, will be aired on www.fighttyme.com at a cost of $15.99 for the pay-per-view stream, which fans can use the promotional code “Lightning” and that allows Sheppard to get a portion of each sale.

Of course, this fight is rather intriguing on a couple of fronts. First off, it’s all but a homecoming for Toney, who is now 49 and a 1987 graduate of Huron High School in Ann Arbor. Not only is it supposed to be Toney’s final fight, but this is a great opportunity for Sheppard to win a world heavyweight boxing title, even if it’s not one of the big three organizations.

“They got the wrong guy for this,” Sheppard said of Toney’s camp thinking he’s going to be a pushover.

The ex-Tiger state wrestling champion and former world kickboxing champion said he’s more than ready to go the full 12 rounds if need be against Toney (76-10-3, 46 KOs), who never has been knocked out in his career.

Sheppard said he figures to fight at 237 or 238 pounds, “which is heavier than I’ve ever been for a fight, but I’ve been working my butt off. It’s (the weight) not coming off like it used to. I’m almost 42 and 10 years ago I never thought I’d step in the ring that heavy, but I’m solid.

“I’m in shape and I’m ready. I have a few injuries I’m dealing with. People are going to say I’m crazy for fighting. Like (ex-Wirt wrestling coach) Matt Ashley used to say and tell us at wrestling practice, it’s mind over matter. If you don’t mind. It don’t matter.

“Toney is a 12-round fighter. He’s going to pick you apart and figure you out. He’s a chess player. I think I got a good game plan. I think I’m good with (seeing) all his tricks, but I’m sure he’s got some I haven’t seen. I’m not going to fall into his traps. I’m going to use my jab and I’m quicker than him, I’m sure.”

Sheppard will carry a 24-20-2 (10 KOs) record into the ring on Saturday night, where he will be joined by trainer Sam Jones of Glouster, Ohio, and Parkersburg fighter Ray Davila.

“Sam’s the best and he’s all I need,” Sheppard added. “He’s forgot more boxing than anybody I’ve been around in the world. I want to be just like him when I’m old.”

Obviously, Sheppard is more than amped about this opportunity and doesn’t plan on holding anything back.

“I’ve been doing 20 years of this stuff as a professional fighter,” he added. “Who would’ve thought something like this would come up in the end. I feel like a kid. I’m really excited. It makes it a lot easier to get in shape and it doesn’t hurt near as bad.

“I don’t see him outworking me. I’m fast and quick and I’m in shape. I’m prepared. I’m strong and I’m ready. This means a lot to me. It means more to me than it does him. Talent or skill, conditioning, throw it all out the window. I’m coming to win. I’m just not coming to be his last fight. They got the wrong guy.”

Contact Jay Bennett at jbennett@newsandsentinel.com