A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
Spinks Braces For Judah Rematch, Homecoming
NEW YORK, NY—When a world champion of three sanctioning bodies defends his titles in front of a near record-breaking crowd in his own hometown against an archrival, a victory can be memorable. However, a loss could be heartbreaking.
That is the situation that undisputed world welterweight champion Cory Spinks. As the son and nephew of the legendary Leon and Michael Spinks (respectively), Spinks (34-2, 10 KOs) will defend his 147-pound championships on Feb. 5 in his hometown of St. Louis, Missouri in a rematch against Zab Judah (32-2, 23 KOs). It will be Spinks’ first fight in his hometown in over four years.
The last time Spinks fought in St. Louis he was barely known in the boxing world. During the time Spinks has fought away from Missouri, he unified the world welterweight championship by defeating Ricardo Mayorga (Dec. 2003) and has emerged as one of the sports brightest stars.
Obviously Spinks’ followers in St. Louis never stopped watching him, as The Savvis Center has sold nearly 15,000 tickets with a chance to break the all-time indoor attendance record for a boxing event. In Nov. 1999, Lennox Lewis vs. Evander Holyfield sold more than 17,078 tickets at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. If Spinks-Judah II sells out, it will be the highest grossing event in Savvis Center history since it has opened its doors in 1994.
This proves that Spinks can sell tickets in his hometown and if he again defeats Judah, a former 140-pound champion in the prime of his career, this will allow promoter Don King to put the 26-year-old Spinks in other high profile fights.
But getting past Judah again will be no easy task.
In the first fight, it was the close contest between two southpaws (left-handed fighters). Spinks was slightly more aggressive as he boxed behind his jabs and flurries. Spinks knocked Judah down in round eleven, but Judah rallied to floor the champion down the final round. However, it was Spinks who won a close, but unanimous decision (114-112 twice, 116-111).
If Spinks retains the WBA, WBC, and IBF titles at 147, the door could be open for an opportunity to set up a fight against Oscar De La Hoya, who is rumored to return to the welterweight division this year. De La Hoya loves championships and has never won the title of being called “undisputed” champion.
De La Hoya-Spinks would be the biggest payday of Spinks’ life, because De La Hoya remains boxing’s biggest draw despite losses to Bernard Hopkins, Sugar Shane Mosley, and a controversial victory against Felix Strum in nearly two years.
Spinks has to concentrate on Judah, a talented fighter once regarded as one of boxing’s brightest future stars. His combination of power and hand speed led him to an unblemished record and a world championship by the time he was 24.
Judah was once compared to his idol Pernell Whitaker, a great welterweight champion who was quick with his hands and feet, but also difficult to hit because he was a southpaw.
Judah was on the verge of becoming a star until he suffered a one-punch KO defeat in the second round of the biggest fight of his life against Kostya Tszyu for the undisputed world junior welterweight championship in Nov. 2001. It Judah’s first professional loss which led to his being banned from boxing for more than 6 months for his post-fight tantrum after throwing a chair at referee Jay Nady.
Since his return in July 2002, Judah, now 27, has quietly won four of five fights including a loss to Spinks. The rematch against Spinks will be Judah’s third attempt to capture the title of “undisputed” champion. But Judah has the daunting task of accomplishing such a feat in the biggest fight on the largest stage of Spinks’ career.