Michael Nunn vs. James Toney

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Michael Nunn 160 lbs lost to James Toney 157 lbs by TKO at 2:14 in round 11 of 12


  • Toney was ranked fifth at middleweight by the IBF.
  • Nunn was a 20-1 favorite.
  • Nunn's purse was $500,000 and Toney's was $65,000.
  • Toney angered Nunn with constant trash talk, and Nunn promised to give him a beating. "I'm going to punish him," Nunn said. "I'm going to enjoy punishing this guy."

From Sports Illustrated:

Toney expected Nunn to run. "He's going to find out it's no damn disco," he said. "I'll pressure him until he has to fight."

Nunn did move, but not as much as expected. Mostly he stood in front of Toney, fending off attacks with a hard jab and jarring the challenger with combinations. For five rounds Nunn fought brilliantly.

Following the fifth, Toney told [trainer Bill] Miller, "He's tiring. I can hear him breathing like a freight train. I'm going to step up the pressure."

At the end of seven rounds Nunn was ahead by three points on one judge's card, by five on another and by seven on the third. "You're losing it, son. You're losing it," Miller told Toney. "You've got to press him even more."

"Don't worry about it," said Toney. "He's not going the distance."

Nunn appeared tired in the eighth. He tarried too long in front of Toney, who found him repeatedly with jolting right hands. "Jab and move," trainer Angelo Dundee screamed at Nunn from the corner. "Get out of there. Move!"

"He's not hurting me," Nunn replied.

A minute into the 11th round of the scheduled 12-rounder, Toney missed with five hard punches. The last swing carried him face first across the ropes. Undaunted, he turned and hit Nunn with a right to the head. Nunn moved away, shaken. A little later the champion dropped his hands. He never saw the left hook that snapped his head violently sideways and put him on his back. A collective moan swept through the stadium. The last train was leaving town, and Toney wasn't on it.

Rising unsteadily at the count of nine, Nunn said to referee Denny Nelson, "I'm all right." He said it twice. He was wrong both times.

Only pure courage kept him on his feet. Like a Doberman chasing raw meat, Toney charged. A right uppercut turned Nunn around, and a looping right to the back of the neck draped him across the ropes. As Nunn turned toward the ring, two right hands to the head dropped him to his knees. Nelson stopped the fight as a white towel flew into the ring from Nunn's corner.

"Nunn Out" by Pat Putnam, Sports Illustrated, May 20, 1991

Preceded by:
Nunn vs. Curry
IBF Middleweight Title Fight
# 15
Succeeded by:
Toney vs. Johnson