At the Eastern Michigan Convocation Center in Ypsilanti, Michigan, former three division world champion James “Lights Out” Toney (77-10-3, 47 KOs), 48-years-old, returned to the ring to pick up a sixth round knockout win over 41-year-old Mike Sheppard (24-21-2, 10 KOs).
The fight was pretty even, until Toney put the ‘lights out’ in the sixth, as Sheppard failed to beat the count after going down. The win snapped a two fight losing streak for the future Hall of Fame fighter.
Toney, a former middleweight, super middleweight and cruiserweight champion, had been out of the ring since August 2015, when he lost a unanimous decision to Charles Ellis. Prior to that, in 2013, he lost a decision to Jason Gavern as part of a one-night tournament in the UK.
Toney is likely not going to fight again, but one can never tell. The boxer’s last banner year came in 2013, when he captured the IBF cruiserweight title with a Fight of The Year win over Vassiliy Jirov in March, and then made an unexpected move to heavyweight to score an upset TKO win over former champion Evander Holyfield.
Toney was able to capture the WBA heavyweight title in April 2005 when he defeat John Ruiz, but the title win was voided and the outcome was changed to a no-contest after Toney tested positive for banned anabolic steroid stanozolol. The New York Athletic Commission banned him from boxing for 90 days. Toney defended himself by claiming that the steroids were given to him by a doctor to treat the arm injury he suffered during the Rydell Booker fight in September 2004. If the victory would have stood, Toney would have been one of only three fighters in history to go from middleweight to win heavyweight gold.
Toney has a brief stop back to cruiserweight in 2011, when he flew to Russia to face Denis Lebedev. He suffered an injury during the contest, but managed to last the distance as Lebdev retained the WBA interim-belt. Toney also made history in 2010, when he became the first former world boxing champion to fight in the UFC. He fought MMA legend and former UFC champion Randy Couture as part of the UFC 118 pay-per-view. Couture won easy, defeating Toney in the first round by submission.