Lee Groves

10: James Toney’s best performances

10. September 23, 2004 – W 12 Rydell Booker, Pechanga Resort & Casino, Telecula, California

This was Toney’s first comeback fight after a ruptured Achilles tendon scuttled a scheduled February 7 showdown with once-beaten giant Jameel McCline. Typically, Toney chose to fight a 22-0 (12 KOs) heavyweight who, at 23, was 13 years younger and oozing with attitude.

The pair nearly came to blows twice, first at the introductory news conference three days earlier and then at the weigh-in. Booker blew Toney a kiss during the post-weigh in staredown, which prompted Toney to shove a hand in Booker’s face and spew a stream of expletives.

Once the first bell sounded Booker endured a most painful reality check from Toney, whose upper body was chiseled despite weighing a then-career high 227. Although Toney injured his left biceps in the first round, the almost gleeful veteran hammered Booker with flush combinations that landed with almost ridiculous ease. The 76-fight wizard took every opportunity to graphically exploit his opponent’s inexperience and it didn’t take long for anyone to identify the eventual winner.

A right uppercut at the end of a five-punch flurry buckled Booker’s knees in round two while his ramrod jabs forced the taller man to give ground. By the seventh Booker was offering little resistance and in the eighth he took a voluntary knee after absorbing yet another right uppercut. Booker looked to his corner and the referee for help but didn’t find any. Toney decelerated in the ninth to the point he was almost playing with Booker but launched one final assault in the 10th before cruising to a 120-107, 118-108, 117-110 decision.

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