Nathaniel Toney (born August 24, 1968) is an American professional
boxer. He is a former three weight world champion, having held the
IBF middleweight, super middleweight and cruiserweight titles, as
well as having challenged for the WBA and WBC heavyweight titles.
Toney was voted by both The Ring magazine and the Boxing Writers Association
of America as their "Fighter of the Year" in 1991 and 2003. In a career
spanning almost three decades, Toney has fought in five weight divisions
from middleweight to heavyweight, and has defeated eleven world champions.
In 2010, Toney made a one time appearance in mixed martial arts, losing
to Randy Couture at UFC 118.
Toney is well known
for his "Old School" or "Throwback" style of fighting, consisting
of his head and shoulder rolls (used to avoid punches), his ability
to fight off the ropes, his slick body movements, and his infighting.
Before entering the ring, Toney started on the gridiron.
Toney said he got scholarship offers from Western Michigan to play
quarterback and from Michigan to play fullback. But Toney said, "I
wasn't a team player and wasn't good at taking orders. So I went into
Toney had a brief but relatively successful amateur
career, compiling a record of 33-2 (32 KOs). Toney had his first professional
fight on October 26, 1988, beating Stephen Lee by a technical knockout
in the second round. He was scouted and trained by Gregory Owens as
a teenager, who also was his trainer through the mid-nineties. His
moniker of "Lights Out" was also given by either Gregory or his son.
In his 7th pro fight, Toney's manager, alleged drug dealer Johnny
"Ace" Smith, was killed. Afterwards, Jackie Kallen was hired as his
manager. Toney also employed the services of legendary Detroit based
trainer Bill Miller. Miller, a former boxer himself who worked in
Detroit's famed Kronk Gym and assisted hall of fame trainer Emanuel
Steward at times, is credited with developing Toney's famed "old school"
or "throwback" style of fighting.
the IBF middleweight championship by knocking out Michael Nunn in
11 rounds in May 1991. Toney - coming in as a 20-1 underdog - was
down on all the judges cards, but landed a left hook that put Nunn
on the canvas in the 11th round, and eventually scored the TKO victory.
The win also earned Toney the Ring Magazine Fighter Of The Year award.
Toney continued a regular fight program over the next 18 months at
middleweight, before outgrowing the division, where he made several
successful yet disputed defenses. The most noteworthy was Toney's
split decision win over Dave Tiberi in a fight that many experts feel
Toney lost. The decision was so controversial that it prompted United
States Senator William Roth of Delaware to call for an investigation
into possible corruption in the sport. Toney also won a split decision
title defense against Reggie Johnson in June 1991, retained his title
with a draw against former WBA champ Mike McCallum in December 1991,
and again against McCallum, this time by a majority decision, in December
1992. The McCallum fight would be Toney's last as a midleweight.
Toney moved up to the 168 lbs Super Middleweight
On February 13, 1993, he challenged Iran Barkley for
his IBF Super middleweight title. After a dominating performance by
Toney, the bout was stopped after 9 rounds by Barkley's trainer, Eddie
Mustafa Muhammad, due to Barkley suffering severe swelling around
Toney won five fights throughout 1993, then defeated
Tony "The Punching Postman" Thornton in his 1st title defense in October,
via a landslide points victory. In his second defense, Toney beat
the 24-0 Tim Littles by a 4th round KO. During this bout, Toney suffered
a bad cut which caused the referee and ringside doctor to intervene
before round 4, allowing him one more round to try to end the fight.
His next defense was against former IBF Light heavyweight champion
Prince Charles Williams.