James Toney losses shocker, career likely overWritten by Lee Cleveland
It all seemed so academic.
A 46 year old legend, after a two year hiatus, faces a nondescript 40 year old opponent who is seemingly made to order for him and not worthy of being in the same ring.
The star, of course, wins an easy showcase and continues to bigger and better things.
But such was not the case for James Toney (76-10-3, 46 KOs) last night.
The fight great and former multi-division world champion dropped a unanimous decision to a fella named Charles Ellis (10-3-1, 8 KO) in St Louis, Missouri.
A 6'5" heavyweight from Wichita, Kansas, Ellis was previously 3-3 in his last six bouts, most recently dropping a unanimous verdict to a fella who was 9-0 in December.
Scores were a shocking 99-91, 98-92 and 97-93.
Last night's loss to the obscure Eliis was James' third in five fights, each delivered by opponents far below contender level at the time.
Lucas Browne (then 15-0, 14 KOs) soundly defeated James Toney in April 2013 in what many believed would be the latter's swan song. James also dropped a less consequential three-rounder to journeyman Jason Gavern months later in the UK's famed Prizefighter Tournament.
For James Toney, it's time to hang 'em up - And quite frankly, retirement is long overdue.
The future hall of famer, who was rumored to be in negotiations to face sports legend Mike Tyson earlier this summer, told FightNews he'd been training hard for the last six or seven months.
"I wish I could go right to the world title fight right now," Toney informed FightNews before last night's bout.
"My team feels I should move a bit slower and honestly they are right. We will start off with this first fight Saturday. I don’t know anything about my opponent, but I know I am in tremendous shape."
"St Louis fans are going to see a well prepared James Toney."
After his prime years as a middleweight and super middleweight many, including your's truly, wrote James off in the late 1990s amid his weight problems and less-than- satisfactory performances against non-elite opponents.
By early 2000, James Toney was done as a force in boxing.... or so it seemed.
But Toney would experience a revival of sorts and win a world title at cruiserweight in 2003 by decisioning the division's top dog, Vassiliy Jirov. The win would earn him RING Magazine 'Fighter of the Year' honors.
And despite being only 5'10", James would vault to heavyweight and orchestrate a successful run, becoming a major player in the division and producing some memorable moments.
The fighter famously dubbed 'Lights Out,' also 'Fighter of the Year' in 1991, is known most for his legendary 'old-school' style, consisting of his shoulder roll (used to avoid punches) and an innate ability to fight off the ropes as well as his slick body movements and infighting.
SIGNIFICANT WINS/ DRAW
SD 12 Draw Hasim Rahman - 2006
UD 12 Dominick Guinn - 2005
UD 12 Rydell Booker - 2004
TKO 9 Evander Holyfield - 2003
UD 12 Vassiliy Jirov - 2003
UD 12 Steve Little - 1997
KO 12 Charles Williams - 1994
TKO 4 Tim Littles - 1994
UD 12 Tony Thornton - 1993
RTD 9 Iran Barkley - 1993
MD 12 Mike McCallum - 1992
SD 12 Reggie Johnson - 1991
TKO 11 Michael Nunn - 1991
SD 12 Merqui Sosa - 1991
UD 12 Denis Lebedev - 2011
UD 12 Samuel Peter - 2007
SD 12 Samuel Peter - 2006 (Controversial)
UD 12 Montell Griffin - 1996 (Controversial)
MD 12 Montell Griffin - 1995
UD 12 Roy Jones Jr - 1994
Lee is Managing Editor of FightSaga.com, a student of the Sweet Science and longtime boxing fan.
A gym rat in the 1990s, Lee was trained by 1976 Olympic Silver Medalist Charles Mooney and several retired seasoned pros. He was also a sparring partner for former WBA Super Middleweight Champion Steve Little who upset Michael Nunn for the WBA Super Middleweight Title in '94.
Lee created FightSaga.com to honor and preserve boxing's rich heritage, chronicle the achievements of top fighters, celebrate the legacy of big fights and provide a fun, educational experience for fight fans.