Fresh off his enshrinement in The Hall of Fame, James Toney spoke with Fight Hype, explaining the history of the shoulder roll defensive move he made his own back in the day, this when Toney really was the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. Toney says he is “the shoulder roll king,” pointing out how his is “real” whereas Floyd Mayweather’s version of the shoulder roll, which came later, is not.
Toney was asked about the origins of the shoulder roll.
“You seen me, right, you seen mine, my shoulder roll? Mine’s real, the real one to do it,” Toney said. “I am the shoulder roll king, period. Hands down. It [the shoulder roll] came from Jersey Joe Walcott, Ezzard Charles – ‘The Cincinnati Cobra,’ those were the originators. I just picked it up and added my polish to it. See, I’m a hitter. I knock people out!”
Toney, 77-10-3(47) and a former champion at 160/168 and 200 pounds, really did have all the moves back when he was in his prime. Fans may look at Floyd Mayweather’s spotless record, but really, who at their best was the overall greater fighter? Toney clearly has his opinion on such a debate if there is one. Toney was a dazzling defensive fighter in his prime, and he had real power to go right along with it. Plenty of fighters, Mayweather included, took at least a page or two from Toney’s boxing book, just as “Lights Out” took things from the greats he mentioned, Walcott and Charles.
Toney was welcomed into The Hall of Fame at the same time as a number of other excellent fighters – Mayweather, Andre Ward, Juan Manuel Marquez, Miguel Cotto, Sugar Shane Mosley, Wladimir Klitschko – but for some fans (this one included) no-one ever did it quite like James Toney did it when he was on top of his masterful game.
Sure, it’s a cliché, but we’ll never see another James Toney. Immensely skilled? Absolutely. Exciting? For sure. Colourful? No doubt about it. Controversial? Yes. Willing to fight the best each and every time, willing to dare to be great? No doubt about it.
Toney would have been a world champion in any era.