Yes, former three-division boxing champion James Toney is still fighting.
Fight fans may have their calendars marked for May 13th, the day Stipe Miocic fights Junior dos Santos for the UFC heavyweight title. What you may not know is that there is another heavyweight championship clash in store on the same night.
Former multi-division boxing sensation (and one-time UFC fighter) James Toney is 48 years old, and he’s going back into the ring for the first time since 2015. According to the Eastern Michigan University website, this will be Toney’s finale after almost 30 years as a pro boxer.
James “Lights Out” Toney straps on his gloves and enters the ring one last time for his final championship bout against Mike Sheppard on May 13th here at the EMU Convocation Center.
At stake for Toney and Sheppard is the vacant WBF World Heavyweight Title, which is obviously not a major belt from the four top sanctioning bodies (IBF/WBA/WBC/WBO). The title was previously held by veteran K-1 kickboxer and current MMA fighter Peter Graham. I am not making any of this up.
Toney (76-10-3, 46 KOs) was one of the finest defensive boxers in the sport during his heyday, and even in his extremely declined state, has never been knocked out in his career. His peak years were at middleweight and super middleweight, and he won major titles in both weight classes, as well as cruiserweight. Toney’s last win was a November 2013 TKO of Matt Legg in the quarterfinals of a one-night heavyweight tournament in England. He lost to a club-level guy named Charles Ellis in August 2015, and if you want recent footage of Toney speaking, here it is. MMA fans may know Toney best for his one-off at UFC 118, as he pocketed $500,000 in a one-sided loss vs. Randy Couture.
Shepphard (24-20-2, 15 KOs) has been knocked out in all but five of his losses, including to Antonio Tarver in 2013. Only three of his career wins have been in scheduled 10-rounders, and he’s never competed in a 12-rounder. He’s beaten virtually no one of consequence but has numerous defeats to ex-contenders and gatekeepers.
At least to our knowledge, Toney vs. Sheppard isn’t being televised or streamed anywhere, so this is one event where you can only view it by going to the arena. Tickets start at $35.