James “Lights Out” Toney Becomes Eight-Time World Champ
On April 7 at the Landers Center in Southaven, Mississippi, seven-time champion and future Hall of Famer James “Lights Out” Toney (73-7-3, 44 KOs) received a five-round workout against Bobby “The Celtic Warrior” Gunn (21-4-1, 18 KOs) during which he was only lightly tested. Toney, at 43 years old, sported a softened midsection (he weighed in at 248 pounds) but displayed still-sharp reflexes and head movement as he stalked the younger Gunn and relied upon his slickness and considerable experience to avoid absorbing shots. Gunn landed a few lefts, mostly hooks, throughout the first five rounds that sent the sweat flying, but Toney’s popping jabs, one-two combos and lethal rights nullified any potential momentum for the less-experienced fighter. After round 5, Gunn failed to answer the bell due to a broken hand sustained in round 4, allowing Toney to become an eight-time world champion and new holder of the IBU Heavyweight Championship title.
The co-main event, in the junior middleweight division, featured Justin Flanagan (9-2, 5 KOs) and Bobby Bryant (13-0, 9 KOs) in a one-sided affair that went the distance. Flanagan squandered most of his energy rushing in head-first and tying up, and looked outclassed versus Bryant, a hometown favorite from nearby Memphis who frequently inspired chants from the crowd. Flanagan’s main accomplishment was his ability to avoid being knocked down through the eight-rounder, since along the way he was hit with every punch Bryant could throw at him–including echoing body shots, sneaky left hooks and straight rights–but he was never truly hurt by the onslaught, calling Bryant’s power into question despite his high KO percentage. Still, the judges saw a near-shutout for the undefeated Memphian: Reccia Mullins scored the bout 79-73, while Gerald Deming and Mack Thornton saw it 80-72, all in favor of Bryant.
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