2003-04-26 James Toney w pts 12 Vassiliy Jirov, Foxwoods Resort Casino, Mashantucket, Connecticut, USA - IBF
2003-04-26 James Toney w pts 12 Vassiliy Jirov, Foxwoods Resort Casino, Mashantucket, Connecticut, USA - IBF. Referee: Steve Smoger. Scorecards: 116-110, 117-109, 117-109. Despite not being in the greatest shape Toney (190) still had too much for the champion and after losing the opening two rounds he won the next five when picking up speed. Jirov (188) was never out of the contest, still managing to hurt Toney now and again with jolting southpaw punches, but in the eighth round he was deducted a point for going low and failed to win a round thereafter. In the 12th and looking for a finish, Toney eventually had Jirov over with a right-left-right combination that followed several unanswered shots to the head, but the bell rang before any further damage could be done.
Toney handed in his belt in January 2004 to concentrate on the heavyweight division and Kelvin Davis, who had oupointed Louis Azille in an eliminator on 24 October, was matched against Ezra Sellers to decide the vacancy.