LIGHTS OUT! - The Greatest Knockout of James Toney's Career

27.12.05 - By James Slater: It may be argued that James Toney's nickname is one of the least apt in the sport. Certainly, in recent years it has been James' skill and finesse along with his mastering of old school moves that have been responsible for him emerging victorious, and not his knockout prowess. In fact, from his last twenty four fights he has won only eleven by KO. A respectable percentage to be sure but not indicative of a murderous hitter. However, there was a time when Toney's fists carried more than a fair deal of KO power. When he was a middleweight and super middleweight he really could crack some, as he proved by flattening quite a few top notch guys. He burst onto the world scene and captured the first of many titles with a spectacular destruction of the hitherto undefeated Michael Nunn and later went on to score, what I believe to be, his most devastating inside the distance victory.

James had recently won his second world title, the IBF super middleweight title, in February of 1993 with a nine round battering of the ever gutsy Iran Barkley. He was now defending this title for the second time and was intent on turning back the challenge of the undefeated number one contender Tim Littles as he did so. What followed is the most dramatic action from James Toney's career. Defeat would come perilously close in this fight!

The fight started uneventfully enough, with both men feeling one another out in the first round. It was then business as usual for the next five minutes or so with Toney effortlessly slipping Littles' blows and putting on another of the smooth boxing displays all had come accustomed to from the motor mouth from Ann Arbour, Michigan. But then, near the end of round three, a huge cut was opened up above Toney's right eye by a bad clash of heads. The doctor examined the damage during the minute's rest and then grimly informed James how he was considering putting a stop to the action. Toney went crazy! Only his anguished pleas (which included his screaming at the top of his lungs, "I'm gonna knock this mother f****r out!") prevented this from happening. The doctor said he would permit three more minutes but three more only.

Toney came out like a maniac, desperate not to be beaten. It was this desperation that revealed his greatness as he set about making his nickname a frightening reality for Littles. Three brutal knockdowns followed, after the last of which Littles remained prostrate on the canvas for an agonisingly long time, so badly was he hurt.

Never so recently had the phrase, "snatching victory from the jaws of defeat," been so better exemplified than by what James Toney had just done. Comparisons to the similar situations "Sugar" Ray Robinson (v Randolph Turpin) and Rocky Marciano (v Ezzard Charles) had once found themselves in, only to also somehow emerge as the winner, were soon made. Toney's plight had indeed been as serious and he'd responded in a manner that showed the character necessary to match up to even these fistic immortals.

"Lights out" had shown his true greatness, in the process scoring the most chilling and ruthless KO of his entire career.

Article posted on 27.12.2005

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