Lee Groves

10: Greatest super middleweight title fights

7. July 29, 1994 – James Toney KO 12 Prince Charles Williams, MGM Grand, Las Vegas

Williams, who held the IBF light heavyweight title for six years before losing it to Henry Maske 16 months earlier, secured this fight the old-fashioned way – by cold-calling Toney’s manager Jackie Kallen. Once the fight began, Williams’ fight plan was as subtle as a Molotov cocktail – charge out of the corner, pin Toney to the ropes and fire punches every second of every round.

What Williams couldn’t have known was that his strategy was the definitive one to apply, for Toney was suffering from flu-like symptoms throughout fight week and at the weigh-in he was forced to shed two pounds to avoid losing his title on the scales. In short, Toney was feeling awful and Williams’ pressure only made his situation worse.

The blueprint worked well for the first five rounds as Williams’ constant work trumped Toney’s harder but infrequent counters. Though the action was hot and heavy the live crowd booed because they couldn’t see all the work that was going on without the benefit of binoculars.

Once Toney finally secured some daylight, the gulf in ring skills became graphically evident. But Toney’s frustration and anger were at its boiling points, prompting him to Williams after the eighth-round bell. Since it was his second infraction, referee Joe Cortez docked a point from Toney’s score. Concerned that the scorecards were far too close for his comfort, Toney picked up his pace in the ninth and raked Williams with his trademark sharpness. Toney also picked up his work rate considerably, for in the 11th he belabored the tiring Williams with a 90-punch assault.

A terrific action fight was brought to a stunning conclusion in the 12th when Toney blasted a perfectly placed right to the jaw that caused Williams’ body to corkscrew awkwardly before slamming back-first on the canvas. The 10-count was completed just 15 seconds before the final bell.

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