James Toney – Skills


james toney

The Lesser Known Skills of Lights Out James Toney

James Toney is one of the finest all round boxers we have seen in recent times – Toney was especially a master of the shoulder roll and fighting inside the pocket. His extreme skill using the shoulder roll meant he could sit in the pocket and deflect punchers and counter punch his opponent all night. But there were many other skills he used that he doesn’t get the same credit for and in this article I will go over some of these skills.

The Feint

James Toney was always using the feint, he just didn’t make it so obvious which was why it was so effective. Toney would often use the foot feint to stall an incoming opponent as the foot feint can be used to feign a punch and cause a reaction or hesitation in your opponent. Toney would also always be using the head feint, Toney was doing this by constantly moving his head side to side so the opponent wouldn’t know where his head was when targeting Toney and it also meant Toney could go for a punch off the head feint as he using the head feint in a very similar manner to the slip so Toney would head feint and then throw a punch. Of course this led to Toney combining the two and throwing a punch off the head and foot feint.

The Pivot

Toney was also an expert using the pivot. Toney could use the pivot with his back on the ropes to either get out of trouble and he could use it on the ropes when counter punching his opponent and pivot out to the side to continue his attack. Toney used the pivot when both attacking and defending, often we only see fighters using the pivot when attacking to set up another attack but Toney was using the pivot in every situation, attacking, defending, counter punching, on the ropes, centre ring.

Punching as a Southpaw

Because of Toney’s ability to use the pivot it also meant he was excellent at switching stances. Now he wasn’t someone who used it as extensively as say a Marvin Hagler or Terence Crawford but he could use it when setting up an attack or continuing an attack. Toney would do this off the right hand so when throwing a cross he would continue the attack by switching to southpaw. He could also do this off a roll when weaving under punches as it meant his feet were in position to punch from the southpaw stance and he could then effortlessly transition back into his orthodox stance ensuring he didn’t miss the opportunity to counter his opponent.

The Push and Shoot

An old school boxing technique I have covered in the past. James Toney was a master of inside fighting and one of the tricks he would use was when his opponent was trying to catch a break by leaning on Toney’s shoulder(this same move can also be used to tire an opponent out by putting your weight on him). Toney though would use the shoulder his opponent was leaning on to shove his opponent, in effect pushing them back and creating space between him and the opponent – once this space was created Toney would quickly jump on the opening by firing a quick combination at them, often catching them out as they were thrown off balance by the shoulder shove.

Here is the video of James Toney performing this skills

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.


james toney, lights out, old school boxing, push and shoot, the feint, the pivot

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