Toney wins WBA heavyweight title

James Toney beat John Ruiz to win the WBA heavyweight title in New York on Saturday.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:51 IST
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New York:

James Toney did almost as he promised, out-pointing but not knocking out John Ruiz to win the WBA heavyweight title on Saturday, and driving Ruiz into retirement. Toney, a former champion at three other weights who took his first title in 1991, won just his third heavyweight bout to become only the third one-time middleweight champion to take boxing's top crown. Now, Toney has his sights set on Vitali Klitschko. At 106 kilograms, Toney was outweighed by four kilograms, and the weight looked better on Ruiz. Not that it mattered though as Toney wore down the natural heavyweight to win 116-111 on two cards, 115-112 on the other. While the extra weight didn't look good on Toney, he never lost the swagger he carried into the Madison Square Garden ring. And as the fight swung his way, he grimaced in mock pain at Ruiz and even did a little shuffle after the eighth round. Ruiz landed only 28 per cent of his power punches to 57 per cent for Toney, and it naturally made a difference. Yet it was not a hard punch that sent Ruiz to the canvas early in the seventh round, but a right-left combination. Ruiz claimed he slipped, but TV replays showed Toney connected just before Ruiz went down. Ruiz led on two cards and was even on the other halfway through the fight, his third defence of the belt he beat Hasim Rahman to win in December 2003. But after the knockdown in the seventh, the snarling Toney took control, although he could not get the knockout he predicted. Toney celebrated in his corner with a cigar in his mouth. (AP)