Lebedev old mans and embarrasses Toney with big body shots in Russia

4 Nov

Petra Kirsch – Gelsenkirchen

Denis Lebedev became champion of the WBA interim cruiserweight title after winning every minute of every round against a 43-year-old James Toney, who was made to feel every day of his veteran years at the Khodynka Ice Palace in Moscow, Russia on Friday, November 4. Toney was never competitive, had poor balance and his stumbling across the ring was worsened with every punishing punch that Lebedev dug into his solar plexus.

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Kirsch’s scorecard

Round 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Toney 9 9
9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9
9 9
Lebedev
10 10 10
10 10
10 10 10 10 10 10 10

Judges verdict: UD for Lebedev.

Toney arrived in Russia in October, in order to get acclimated to his new surroundings and, arriving at the Ice Palace 30 minutes before Lebedev, the American appeared just that as he was clad in a black, dapper fur coat and sunshades. When it was time to fight, the Russian stage appeared to take a leaf out of the German way to host a fight as live music accompanied the separate prizefighters protracted walk-outs. Lights-Out Toney appeared calm, focused and looked in far greater shape as a cruiser than he had as a bloated heavy. Lebedev, dressed in camo with sailor’s gear underneath, also seemed cool and composed with his unmistakeable boxer’s hook nose.

Before the fight was even underway, the home fans were barking tribal soccer-style chants and, as soon as boxing began, Toney adopted the stance so familiar with his work as he kept his left hand low and his right hand at mid-level and, instead of blocking shots he shoulder-rolled. The first few minutes of action were largely feeling-out moments, seeing what the other fighter was capable of but it was Lebedev who was fighting on the front-foot, controlling the space while Toney stayed on the outside. The most notable punches in the first round were both dispatched by the home fighter due to an uppercut that thudded into Toney’s nose and, moments later, a head-bound cross shot landing cleanly.

In round two, Toney looked to land the one big punch – the right hand over the top. He also found it difficult to circumvent the southpaw jab as Lebedev began doubling up on his lead punch. Toney also showed signs of being every part of his 43-years as he twice stumbled around the ring, not because of taking shots, but due to sub-par balance and poor footwork. Lebedev drew a great reaction cheer from the crowd due to an accurate left cross. Toney still showed signs of lovely technical finesse, yet this was offset and surpassed by Lebedev dictating the fight with his work-rate and tempo.

Reacting to good corner-work imploring their ward to work behind his jab more often, Toney began extending that left hand with an increased regularity. Well-conditioned, Lebedev showed good accuracy and mid-level pressure and punched the sweat off of Toney’s skull. Toney was able to pivot away from Lebedev’s right handed shots, but the two punches the American failed to defend himself against were the left cross from range, the left hook from mid-range and the digging left upperct from the inside.

By the fifth, Lebedev’s tactic became a simple, yet incredible effective one as he landed single-fire shots – most often the southpaw jab – before circling around Toney in an anti-clockwise fashion. Having boxed at a slow tempo throughout the contest, Toney’s pace had diminished further by round six, he was less reflexive than what he was most famed for during his pomp and, when he let his fists go in two-punch combos, Lebedev was able to easily able to evade them by retreating by just half a step and applying a touch of head movement.

In round seven, Lebedev out-threw, out-worked, out-landed and out-powered the older man but Toney did have success with an intuitive right hand hooked in from range. Strafing Toney in round seven, Lebedev landed an abundance of southpaw jabs and a telling left hand that pushed Lights Out halfway across the ring. It was again the left hand, this time twice to the body in round nine, that knocked Toney onto the backfoot. Gassed, drained, and fighting with a defeated expression on his face, Toney hardly threw anything, was breathing heavily, stumbling across the ring yet insisted on shrugging his shoulders and shaking his head in an act of kidology.

A left hand to the solar plexus wobbled Toney from the centre of the ring to the ropes in the latter stages of round ten and, sensing it was shots to the body that would secure his stoppage, Lebedev began loading up on punches to the midsection. Lebedev’s ease of gaining the superior edge in every round was underlined when he returned to his corner without the need to take to his stool as he casually chatted and received instruction from Hall of Famer; Kostya Tszyu, while standing upright and leaning on the upper rope in the style reminiscent of George Foreman.

Lebedev continued to old man Toney in round 11 with straight left hands. With each cross pummeled into the the middle of his pecs, the legs got unsteadier and unsteadier. Surprisingly, both the referee and the corner allowed the punishment to continue to the end of the round and into the 12th. Lebedev upped his brutality in the final round, though, landing clean, hard shots to the belly and tho the temples as the Russian tormented and embarrassed a former multi-weight world champion fighting for survival in what will his last fight for a title, however lightly regarded the interim belt is.

With victory, Lebedev defeated his second veteran American ring legend on the trot and jumped up to 23-1-0, 17ko while Toney was down to 73-7-3, 44ko.

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