James Toney – The Pivot


James Toney

A Necessity for the Shoulder Roll

James Toney has to be one of the most talented ‘boxers’ we have ever seen. Toney really was a throwback to the old school generation of boxers, he didn’t care who you were he didn’t even care how much you weighed – if you were good he wanted to fight you. Boxing is full of stories where James Toney sparred famous names and gave them a beating, that includes the heavyweight brothers who were world champions Wladmir and Vitali Klitschko and that was when Toney was either a middleweight or super middleweight. James Toney is someone who fought almost 100 times through from middleweight to heavyweight and was never knocked out, that isn’t just a testament to his chin, but to his excellent defensive skills as well.

Toney may have well been better known for his slipping, rolling and counter punching but there is a lesser known skill which is essential to making full use of the philly shell or shoulder roll style of boxing. This is the pivot and although it is really a basic skill which you should be learning as part of your footwork, it is not always a skill that is used to its full advantage or one that is mastered as it should be.

The pivot is used in both defence and offence. With defence especially if you use the shoulder roll or philly shell wit the lead arm low, the pivot is another method to better protect your lead side, by pivoting you can change the angle when someone tries to attack your lead side and it is also makes a good way to move away from the right cross of an orthodox opponent. If you are using this style of boxing, I know the slipping and rolling looks more flash and gets the headlines but without the pivot you are going to be a sitting duck or you’ll be moving in straight lines which isn’t good when defending. To get the most out of the philly shell or shoulder roll style of boxing you must incorporate the pivot and make a big part of your footwork.

The same can be said when attacking, the pivot isn’t just used as past of your defence – by pivoting when throwing punches you are changing the angle allowing you to better find openings in your opponents guard, James Toney wouldn’t just use the pivot when defending, he would use it when attacking and counter punching too. Of course those of you familiar with current boxers will see Vasyl Lomachenko as a perfect example of this but even the great Floyd Mayweather Jr was very effective using pivots, we can see in his fight with Manny Pacquiao how he used to slip and pivot to nullify many of the attacks from his southpaw opponent.

Watch the video to see James Toney, a master of boxing effectively use the pivot in all situations, defence, offence, counter punching and fighting inside the pocket.

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, philly shell, pivot, shoulder roll

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