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James Toney

James Toney Profile Image
  • Nickname: Lights Out
  • Date of Birth: 24th August 1968 (55 years old)
  • Retired: 13th May 2017 (Career length: 28 years 6 months)
  • Status: Retired
  • Nationality: USA Flag USA
  • Birthplace: Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA Flag Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA
  • Residence: Sherman Oaks, California, USA Flag Sherman Oaks, California, USA
  • Division: Middleweight
  • Height: 178cm
  • Reach: 183cm
  • Stance: Orthodox
  • BoxRec: James Toney
  • Debut: 26th October 1988


James “Lights Out” Toney, born on August 24, 1968, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is a former professional boxer who left an indelible mark on the sport. With a career spanning nearly three decades, from 1988 to 2017, Toney's boxing journey was characterised by his unique defensive style, exceptional counterpunching abilities, and a never-say-die attitude that made him a fan favourite.

Toney's rise to fame began in 1991 when he knocked out the heavily favoured Michael Nunn to win the IBF and lineal middleweight titles. This upset victory earned him The Ring Magazine Fighter of the Year award and solidified his status as a force to be reckoned with in the middleweight division. Toney went on to make several successful title defences, showcasing his defensive prowess and slick upper-body movement.

As Toney's career progressed, he moved up in weight classes, capturing the IBF super middleweight title in 1993 and the IBF cruiserweight title in 2003. His most notable victories during this period included wins over Iran Barkley, Prince Charles Williams, and Vassiliy Jirov. Toney's ability to adapt to different weight classes and maintain his effectiveness was a testament to his ring IQ and versatility.

In the latter stages of his career, Toney ventured into the heavyweight division, where he faced off against some of the biggest names in boxing. Although the latter was later ruled a no-contest due to a failed drug test, his victories over Evander Holyfield and John Ruiz proved that Toney could compete at the highest level even in the twilight of his career.

Toney's boxing style, often described as "old school" or "throwback," was a masterclass in defence and counterpunching. Trained by the legendary Bill Miller, Toney used the shoulder roll technique to slip punches and create openings for his shots. His chin, often tested but never broken, became a legend, as he never lost a fight by stoppage in his 92-bout professional career.

Outside the ring, Toney's life was not without controversy. From his early days selling crack cocaine to his brief foray into mixed martial arts, where he lost to Randy Couture at UFC 118, his journey was far from conventional. However, his impact on boxing is undeniable, with The Ring Magazine ranking him as the tenth-best middleweight title holder of the last 50 years in 2011.

James Toney's legacy in boxing is one of resilience, adaptability, and a unique fighting style that set him apart from his contemporaries. His career, which spans multiple weight classes and features victories over some of the sport's biggest names, reminds us of the importance of perseverance and the power of an unconventional approach in the face of adversity.