On this day: James Toney edges Mike McCallum in battle of middleweight legends
It doesn’t get much better than this.
On August 29, 1992, James Toney retained his IBF middleweight title by scoring a 12-round majority decision over Mike McCallum at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center in Reno, Nevada. The official scores were 117-110, 117-110 and 114-114.
Toney and McCallum had met seven months earlier in Atlantic City. Containing some of the most sublime and sophisticated in-fighting that any fan could ever wish for, this 160-pound classic ended in a split decision draw.
While the rematch didn’t surpass the original, it was still a tremendous bout. The signature in-fighting was there once again, but Toney produced some excellent work at long range. And McCallum, known as “The Body Snatcher,” lived up to his ring moniker by attacking the mid-section more than he had in fight one.
In the end youth prevailed. The 35-year-old McCallum performed brilliantly once again, but it was the 25-year-old “Lights Out” who prevailed.
“I was more well-rounded after [the first] fight, and that’s why Mike didn’t want to commit in the rematch,” Toney told The Ring years later. “I was a slicker fighter; I was moving him, turning him into punches, and I also had more confidence. I knew Mike McCallum was a great fighter, but I knew I was better. And he knew I had that hot sauce for him in the rematch, which is why he ran.”
The fight was not devoid of controversy. McCallum was deducted a point in the eighth for a light-hearted behind-the-back shot that barely grazed Toney’s nose. But it was the scorecards that let people down. Toney deserved this win, but not by a margin of nine rounds to three.