BASN Boxing News And Notes

By Francis Walker
Updated: March 31, 2008

GlovesNEW YORK— Cory Spinks (36-5, 11 KOs) lost his IBF junior middleweight title fighting in his hometown of St. Louis, MO to Verno Phillips (42-10-1, 21 KOs). The bout was the main event of a Don King Promoted, “Pride of St, Louis” webcast on

Spinks, who departed ways with his head trainer and friend of more than 13 years, Kevin Cunningham, was guided by the legendary tandem of Michael and Leon Spinks.

Spinks had every advantage that any fight could possibly imagine — the support of more than 8,800 of his native followers at the Scottrade Center, Cory’s father Leon and Cory’s Michael working the corner, along with close scoring from the three official judges at ringside.

Even “The Pride of St. Louis” even moniker was a tribute to the 1980s memory of Michael Spinks’ upset win against Larry Holmes, Leon Spinks’ shock win over Muhammad Ali during the 1980s, and Cory’s achievements as a professional boxer.

Yet, Spinks still couldn’t pull off the victory. All three judges scored the bout 115-113 (Spinks), 116-112 and 115-113 (Phillips).

“I felt good, just a little rusty that’s all,” Spinks said. “Verno fought a good fight. He came in to do a job, but I feel I did what I came to do. I am upset with myself. I let myself down.”

Phillips, at 39 years of age, is a world junior middleweight champion for the third time during a remarkable 20-year career. Phillips deserves it because he was the aggressor and threw the harder shots in what was a close fight.

Phillips’ best chance at beating Spinks was to outwork Cory, who is better recognized for his defense and slick movement. Spinks didn’t take the necessary risks that he needed to win the fight. Phillips, on the other hand, realized that this was perhaps his final world title shot and he took advantage of every opportunity he had.

“I hit more with my left,” Phillips said afterward. “They told me not to reach in. He is hard to adapt to. He is sneaky. You lean in, he will hit you with a one-two. I just relied on my experience. I did my best and I am still in the top 10. I had harder shots. I felt like his people were booing him because they felt he didn’t bring it.”

How devastating was this loss for Spinks?

Spinks was behind the fight moniker “The Pride of St. Louis.” Spinks represented the “New Generation” of the Spinks family legacy and had the support of the St. Louis boxing community. Spinks unified the WBC, WBA, and IBF championships and was on top of the world after his victories against Ricardo Mayorga and Zab Judah several years ago.

In recent years, Spinks has fallen off from grace. After losing the undisputed world welterweight championship in a rematch to Judah, via brutal ninth-round TKO in February 2005 in St. Louis, Spinks restored credibility by moving up in weight o 154 to beat Roman Karmazin for the IBF title one year later before a failed bid to win the WBC/WBO middleweight championship in May 2007.

Although Spinks is only 30, he has lost his last two fights – three of the last five – and has not recorded a victory in 21 months. Spinks’ inactivity isn’t doing him any justice as well. In the last four years, Spinks fought only once in 2005, once in 2006, twice in 2007, and only once this year. Overall Spinks had only five fights in four years.

Devon Alexander Blossoms on Spinks-Phillips Undercard

While Kevin Cunningham is no longer in Spinks’ corner, he’s still working with Devon Alexander, an undefeated 21-year-old southpaw. Alexander, like Spinks, is from St. Louis, MO. Alexander (15-0, 8 KOs) didn’t disappoint, but instead was impressive during his dominant 12-round unanimous decision over Miguel Callist (24-7-1, 17 KOs).

“I felt great tonight but I always feel I could have done better,” Alexander stated. “I was happy with the knockdown in the last round, but I would have liked to have had a knockout.”

Alexander’s punches were sharper, straighter, and more accurate. It reached the point when Callist didn’t even want to exchange with the younger fighter and went into retreat mode.

“Devon did what he had to do,” Cunningham said. “There is not much you can do when a guy brings his track shoes instead of his boxing shoes. When Callist sat down in the sixth round and fought, Devon shut him out. Then he [Callist] got on his bike.”

In Alexander’s last fight on the Roy Jones-Felix Trinidad undercard in January, he out-boxed former WBO 140-pound champion DeMarcus Corley through twelve rounds as well.

Alexander will have a long wait if he wants a world title fight, as the 140 division has a number of guys looking for world title fights and large paydays including Junior Witter, Paulie Malignaggi, Ricky Hatton, Ricardo Torres, Kendall Holt, Demetrius Hopkins, and Randal Bailey to name a few.

Arthur Abraham Wins Again

Kelly Pavlik can be recognized as the best middleweight in the world following two consecutive victories against Jermain Taylor. It was Taylor, who twice defeated Bernard Hopkins in 2005 – ending his 10-year reign as world middleweight champion.

Arthur Abraham, however, is currently the longest reigning middleweight champion of nearly 2 ½ years.

Abraham successfully defended the IBF 160-pound title for the seventh time. Abraham (26-1, 21 KOs) knocked out an opponent who had never been KO’d in his professional career, Elvin Ayala (18-2-1, 8 KOs) in the twelfth and final round.

Abraham reportedly dropped Ayala in rounds twice in the early rounds before taking him out with a left uppercut in the final 30 seconds of the fight.

The combined record of Abraham’s opponents during his IBF championship fights is 204-13. Abraham’s KOs of Kingsley Ikeke (KO 5), Sebastien Demers (KO 3), Khoren Gevor (KO 11) were spectacular. Abraham also went twelve tough rounds with KO-artist Edison Miranda in September 2006 with a broke jaw. Abraham could have quit, but instead he chose fight a very game and dangerous Miranda and found a way to win.

Abraham’s next fight is scheduled to occur in the United States in June. For those that haven’t seen Abraham fight, he has plenty to strength and stamina/endurance. Abraham is a blood and guts performer and prepares his body to absorb and distribute punishment.

Pavlik-Abraham: A Great Fight

Should Pavlik and Abraham continue to win, a fight between both fighters would be one of the best fights that can be made at the present time.

The logic is simple because, who at 160 pounds can beat Pavlik? Who at 160 pounds can beat Abraham? Which middleweight contender can prevent Pavlik from stepping forward with his jab and awesome punching accuracy? Who can force Abraham toward the opposite direction when he’s coming straight-forward in pursuit of a knockout.

Pavlik and Abraham are both relentless, well-school fighters, and will press hard for a knockout. The biggest middleweight title fight is Pavlik-Abraham.

Pavlik To Fight Mandatory

One of the requirements of being a professional boxing champion is to fight your mandatory challenger. If you can’t surpass your mandatory then you don’t deserve to be a world champion.

Before Pavlik (33-0, 29 KOs), the Pride of Youngstown, OH, pursue other big fights, he must first rid himself of No. 1-ranked Gary Lockett (30-1, 21 KOs) of Wales. That bout will take place at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ on June 7.

It will be Pavlik’s fourth fight in a 13-month span, including a six-round knockout of Miranda in May 2007. Pavlik will be fighting an opponent that is riding a five-year, 14-fight unbeaten streak. Pavlik-Lockett is no walk over, but Pavlik should win in impressive fashion.