James Toney – 6 Set ups for the Right Hand


James Toney right hand

The one they called Lights Out was a masterful boxer. James Toney is one of those old school throwback type of fighters who was a joy to watch because he had such mastery over the sweet science of boxing. Toney was shown the ways of the old school by his coach Bill Miller – Miller had worked with the great Ezzard Charles, who was one of the all time greats and his fighting style would have a huge influence on Toney’s style.

In this article I am going to look at possibly Toney’s greatest ever performance, against Iran Barkley and how Toney would set up his right hand, at the end of the article will be the short video study I did on this which is available on my YouTube channel Fayz Fitness.

  1. The bait and counter – Toney would use the jab as bait by touching Barkley with it, the jab would not be a hard shot, he would almost be pawing Barkley just enough to force Barkley into a counter punch. When Barkley did counter the touch jab, he had fallen into Toney’s trap who was waiting to slip and counter with the right hand.

2. The Hand Trap – Here Toney is already throwing the straight right at his opponent whilst he gets his back off the ropes, what Toney does with his third shot is that he uses his left hand to pull down the guard of Barkley and then throws another right hand behind it. By pulling down the guard he has created an opening for his right hand and successfully lands the punch.

3.  The Parry and Punch – Toney uses his back hand to parry Barkleys punch, in one motion from the parry with the right hand he turns it into a straight right hand and lands the punch on his opponent. The parry is great because it pushes the punch but also misdirects the momentum of the puncher which often results in the fighter becoming off balance which means they cannot punch you whilst making it easy for you to use the counter.

4. The Push and Shoot – I have made a video on this in the past when discussing James Toney and also some of the old school fighters such as Henry Armstrong. Barkley liked to lean in to his opponent and get them on the ropes where he would then throw his punches as he smothered the fighter. Toney made some space for himself by using his lead shoulder to shove Barkley back just enough to throw a right hand behind the push.

5. The Shoulder Roll – I tried to only include set ups so I wasn’t going to include the shoulder roll – there was also a cross arm guard and counter right Toney used which I did not include in the video but this was almost like a set up because Toney uses the lead arm low to bait opponents into attacking so the shoulder roll can be used as a set up for this reason – you know the right hand counter is set up behind the shoulder roll as the lead hand is low to set up counter punching. Toney catches the jab and then shoulder rolls the cross from Barkley and throws his right hand off the shoulder roll.

6. The Cross Block – An old school method of defending punches, the rear hand comes across and protects the lead side of the face, in this case Toney will bring his right hand across to cover the left side of his face from the opponents right hand. Once the punch is blocked with the rear hand, Toney uses the same hand to counter back with his own right. This is a method of defence popularised by all time great Archie Moore.


Certain boxers you will learn just watching their fights, James Toney, Bernard Hopkins, Floyd Mayweather Jr and Sugar Ray Robinson are just a handful of examples of fighters you can learn from.

About the author 


Boxing Coach
Strength and Conditioning Coach
Boxing Author of:

The Boxing Cheat Sheet - Your Ultimate Guide to Ring Survival

Strength and Conditioning for Boxing - Work out Hits to get you Fighting Fit!

Forgotten Legends of the Ring - Ten Past Masters of the Squared Circle

*Any videos or images used on this site to support my articles that are copyrighted are used for educational purposes and in accordance to the fair use act and are not my own - all credit is due to the respective owners. No copyright infringement intended.


archie moore, bernard hopkins, bill miller, cross block, ezzard charles, floyd mayweather, james toney, set up right hand, shoulder roll, sugar ray robinson

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