Little did combat sports fans know they had two pay-per-view options on the night of May 13th. Choice A was UFC 211 for the usual $60 cost, while Choice B was $15.99 to see the advertised final fight of former multi-division world boxing champion and one-time UFC fighter James Toney’s illustrious career.
At the Eastern Michigan University Campus Convocation Center, Toney (77-10-3, 47 KOs) took on journeyman Mike Sheppard (24-21-2, 10 KOs) for a completely bogus heavyweight belt, thus making it a twelve-rounder. Coming in at 249 lbs, the 48-year-old Toney was able to put Sheppard away in round six with uh ... yeah, you can watch the video below.
Apparently the referee called it off before Sheppard could fully rise to beat the count.
Sheppard is a journeyman who’s notoriety comes from being a live body for anybody notable to beat him. He lost to recent WBC heavyweight title challenger Gerald Washington by KO in 2014, was stopped by former champions Ruslan Chagaev and Antonio Tarver in 2013, and has essentially beaten nobody who can be considered a relevant boxer.
This was Toney’s first win in four years, and his first bout since losing to club fighter Charles Ellis in 2015. Toney’s best days were at middleweight (160 lbs) and super middleweight (168 lbs), a whole two decades ago. He also had success at light heavyweight (175 lbs), cruiserweight (200 lbs), and even heavyweight, but those days are long gone. While Toney has never been knocked out, he has looked woefully out of shape towards the tail-end of his career, with his speech increasingly unintelligible.
If this is the end for “Lights Out,” he will be remembered as one of the finest defensive boxers of his era, a great technician with excellent ring savvy, an incredible chin, and very good power at the lower weight divisions.
Let’s remember him in happier times, like when he demolished Michael Nunn in 1991.
For just pure fun, watch round 12 of Toney vs. Vassily Jirov at cruiserweight. You’ll probably be yelling as loudly as the late Manny Steward.