Lee Groves

10: James Toney’s best performances

8. October 16, 1990 – W 10 Sanderline Williams II, Hyatt Regency, Tampa, Florida

In a little less than two years as a pro Toney had already compiled a 21-0-1 (16) record. The lone blemish came three months (and two fights) earlier against the cagey Williams before a pro-Toney crowd in Dearborn, Mich. In that fight Toney started fast but faded late because, according to Toney, he was suffering from a high fever and the onset of chicken pox. Another potential reason was that he had only gone 10 rounds once before and had struggled with his pacing. A third culprit was Williams, a classic cutie who picked up plenty of tricks in losing but competitive fights against Reggie Johnson, Nigel Benn, Gerald McClellan, Merqui Sosa, Don Lee, Ron Essett, Frank Tate, Iran Barkley, Herol Graham and Lindell Holmes, the only man to stop him in 11 years and 40 fights.

Eager to erase the memories of their first fight from everyone’s memory banks, a focused and healthy Toney dominated from start to finish. His spearing jabs set up beautifully thrown combinations that shifted effortlessly from head to body and back again. At the same time Toney deftly blocked and slipped Williams’ punches with arms and shoulders while also executing perfect shoulder rolls that prefaced precise counter rights time and again. He fought three minutes of every round and his output often surged toward the 100-punch mark.

Williams’ best – and only – moment came in the sixth when he nailed Toney with a right to the chin. Any thoughts of another late-round rally by Williams was snuffed out moments later when Toney resumed his ceaseless yet scientific assault. At one point the patient confident Toney fired a right cross followed by a triple hook, an illustration of how much the 22-year-old’s skills had already advanced.

Williams attempted a final charge early in the 10th but a still-fresh Toney tamped it down with his own, more effective counterattack. Toney’s 100-90, 100-91, 99-91 decision victory proved beyond doubt that he had learned from the errors of the first fight and that he would be a formidable challenge for all future opponents.

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