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Lebedev outpoints Toney for WBA cruiserweight belt

Lebedev outpoints Toney for WBA cruiserweight belt

Denis Lebedev dominated 43-year-old multiple world champion James Toney to win the interim WBA cruiserweight title by an unanimous points decision at the Khodynka Ice Palace on Friday.
Cheered by the home crowd, Lebedev, 11 years younger, overcame caution in the early rounds to batter a fading Toney toward the end and win all 12 rounds on the judges' cards.
The three judges all scored the fight 120-108 to Lebedev.
Lebedev started slowly, but started to land his powerful jab in the second round, forcing Toney on to the ropes.
Toney said he hurt his left knee in the second round and never managed to recover.
The American, a former middleweight, super middleweight and cruiserweight champion, attempted to impose himself in the third round, throwing several hooks but they were clumsy and seemed to only spur the Russian to attack.
In the ninth round Lebedev landed several heavy shots that sent Toney reeling and put the American on the backfoot for the remaining three rounds.
The home crowd was looking for a decisive finish after Lebedev managed to knock out Roy Jones Jr. with just seconds remaining in their bout in the Russian's most recent outing. But Toney, who has never been beaten by a knock out, held on though he picked up his second consecutive defeat.
After the fight, Lebedev said he would give himself a "C+" for the fight and said he had learned a lot from his American opponent, such as "the perfect defense that I can only aspire to copy."
Lebedev's trainer, former champion Kostya Tszyu, said Lebedev wanted a more colorful victory, but Tszyu had warned him against touching a "wounded beast."
"Looking back, I would have punched him so hard at the end of the fight," said Lebedev. "(But) I saw in Toney's eyes that he can strike back any time. He was dangerous until the end."
Lebedev, who beat Jones in May, also in Moscow, improved his record to 23-1 (17 KOs).
Toney dropped to 73-7-3 (44 KOs). At 197.5 pounds (90 kilograms), Toney was at his lightest weight in eight years.
"I had a bad night, but I'll come back," a limping Toney said after the fight. "I'm definitely not retiring."


Updated : 2021-06-22 19:16 GMT+08:00