Leon Spinks

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Leon Spinks
Leon Spinks 1.jpg
Statistics
Real nameLeon Spinks
Nickname(s)"Neon" Leon
Rated atHeavyweight
Height6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Reach76 in (193 cm)
NationalityAmerican
Born(1953-07-11) July 11, 1953 (age 60)
St. Louis, Missouri, United States
StanceOrthodox
Boxing record
Total fights46
Wins26
Wins by KO14
Losses17
Draws3
 
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Leon Spinks
Leon Spinks 1.jpg
Statistics
Real nameLeon Spinks
Nickname(s)"Neon" Leon
Rated atHeavyweight
Height6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Reach76 in (193 cm)
NationalityAmerican
Born(1953-07-11) July 11, 1953 (age 60)
St. Louis, Missouri, United States
StanceOrthodox
Boxing record
Total fights46
Wins26
Wins by KO14
Losses17
Draws3

Leon Spinks (born July 11, 1953) is an American former boxer, who had an overall record of 26 wins, 17 losses and three draws as a professional, with 14 of those wins by knockout. In only his eighth professional bout, Spinks won the undisputed world heavyweight championship when he beat Muhammad Ali on February 15, 1978, in what was considered one of the biggest upsets in boxing history. However, he was stripped of the WBC title for fighting Ali in an unapproved rematch seven months later, which he lost by a 15-round unanimous decision. Besides being heavyweight champion and his characteristic gap-toothed grin (due to losing two and later all four of his front teeth), Spinks gained notoriety for the disaster which befell his career following the loss to Ali.[1]

Leon was introduced to the sport by Melvin Westbrook Jr. a boxer himself at the time. Prior to turning professional, Spinks won a bronze medal at the inaugural 1974 World Amateur Boxing Championships in Havana. Two years later, he capped off his amateur career by winning a gold medal in the light heavyweight division at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, alongside his brother Michael Spinks, who won the gold at middleweight. Leon defeated Cuban great Sixto Soria in an entertaining slugfest where Spinks was rocked several times by the much more polished fighter but landed a crushing overhand right that put Soria face down on the canvas. His Olympic teammates included Sugar Ray Leonard, Leo Randolph and Howard Davis Jr. Leon also served on active duty in the United States Marine Corps.[when?]

Professional career[edit]

Spinks debuted professionally on January 15, 1977 in Las Vegas, beating Bob Smith by knockout in five rounds. His next fight was in Liverpool, England, where he beat Peter Freeman by a first round knockout. Later, he saw an improvement in opposition quality, when he fought Pedro Agosto of Puerto Rico and knocked him out in round one. He then fought Scott LeDoux to a draw and defeated Italian champion Alfio Riguetti by a decision.

First Ali match[edit]

Now a lower ranked contender, he made history on February 15, 1978, by beating Muhammad Ali on a 15-round decision in Las Vegas. Spinks won the world heavyweight title in his professional eighth fight, the shortest time in its history. The aging Ali had expected an easy fight, but he was out-boxed by Spinks, who did not tire throughout the bout. It was one of the few occasions when Ali left the ring with a bruised and puffy face.

Spinks' victory over Ali was the peak of his career. He was the only man to take a title from Muhammad Ali in the ring. Ali's other losses were non-title contests or bouts where Ali was the challenger. Spinks' gap-toothed grin was featured on the cover of the February 19, 1978 issue of Sports Illustrated.

However, Spinks was stripped of his world title by the WBC for refusing to defend it against Ken Norton, instead agreeing to a return bout against Ali to defend his WBA crown. The title, stripped from Spinks, was then awarded to Norton. Spinks was the last undisputed heavyweight champion until the arrival of Mike Tyson.

The Ali rematch[edit]

His second match with Ali, at the Louisiana Superdome on September 15, 1978, went badly for Spinks. A now in-shape Ali--with better sharper tactics--rarely lost control, winning back his title by a unanimous fifteen-round decision. Ali regained the title, becoming the first three-time heavyweight champion.

Career development[edit]

Spinks defeats Ray Kipping June 19, 1995, St. Louis
Spinks during his final victory held at the "Little bit of Texas" in St.Louis

Spinks's next fight, his only one in 1979, was at Monte Carlo, where he was knocked out in only round one by future WBA world heavyweight champion Gerrie Coetzee. In the following fight, Spinks defeated former world title challenger and European title holder Alfredo Evangelista by a knockout in round 5. He fought to a draw in with Eddie López, and beat the WBC's top-ranked challenger, Bernardo Mercado, by a knockout in round nine.

The Holmes title fight[edit]

His strong performance against Mercado earned Spinks a title match against Larry Holmes. In Spinks' only fight in 1981, and what would be his last chance opportunity at the heavyweight title, he had a clear loss by a TKO in the 3rd round at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit on June 12. It rather abruptly finished his venture in world class heavyweight boxing.

Changes weight division[edit]

It was Spinks' last heavyweight bout for years, as he began boxing in the cruiserweight division. He beat contender Ivy Brown by a decision in ten rounds, and a gained a decision against former and future title challenger Jesse Burnett in twelve rounds.

When his brother Michael Spinks defeated Larry Holmes in a controversial upset for the IBF heavyweight championship in 1985, they became the first brothers to have held world heavyweight championships. They kept the distinction until the Klitschko brothers also achieved it a decade later.

In the 1980s Leon Spinks competed in several boxer vs. wrestler matches in New Japan Pro Wrestling, including losing by submission to Antonio Inoki. In 1986 Spinks earned his last championship opportunity, fighting Dwight Muhammad Qawi for the WBA cruiserweight championship. Qawi had been defeated by Michael Spinks three years earlier for his WBC light heavyweight championship. However, Leon Spinks lost by TKO in the sixth round. During the fight, Qawi taunted Spinks as he beat him mercilessly in a corner.

Spinks boxed for another eight years with mixed results. In 1994 he lost a bout by KO to John Carlo, the first time a former heavyweight champion had lost to a boxer making his pro debut. Spinks retired at age 42, after losing an 8 round decision to Fred Houpe in 1995, who was coming off a seventeen-year hiatus.

Professional boxing record[edit]

26 Wins (14 knockouts, 11 decisions, 1 disqualification), 17 Losses (9 knockouts, 8 decisions), 3 Draws[2]
ResultOpponentTypeRd., TimeDateLocationNotes
LossFred HoupeDecision (unanimous)8December 4, 1995United States St. Louis, Missouri
WinRay KippingDecision (unanimous)8June 19, 1995United States St. Louis, Missouri
LossJohn CarloKO1October 22, 1994United States Washington, D.C.
LossShane SutcliffeDecision8October 1, 1994Canada Nanaimo, British Columbia
WinEddie CurryDisqualification9 (10)June 22, 1994United States Raleigh, North CarolinaUnsanctioned show.
LossJames WilderDecision10February 27, 1993United States Davenport, Iowa
WinKevin PoindexterKO1 (10)December 11, 1992United States Countryside, Illinois
LossKevin PorterDecision10September 26, 1992United States Lansing, Michigan
WinJack JacksonKO3 (10)July 24, 1992United States Countryside, Illinois
WinKenneth BentleyDecision10June 17, 1992United States Atlanta, Georgia
WinRick MyersDecision10March 20, 1992United States St. Louis, Missouri
WinAndre CrowderDecision (split)10February 28, 1992United States Countryside, Illinois
WinLupe GuerraKO3 (10)November 15, 1991United States Gary, Indiana
LossTony MorrisonTKO1 (10)May 30, 1988United States Trumbull, Connecticut
LossRandall CobbDecision (majority)10March 18, 1988United States Nashville, Tennessee
LossLadislao MijangosDecision (split)10December 20, 1987United States San Antonio, Texas
LossTerry MimsDecision (split)10October 20, 1987United States Cleveland, Ohio
DrawJim AshardDraw (points)10August 29, 1987United States Eugene, Oregon
LossAngelo MusoneKO7 (10)May 22, 1987Italy Jesi, Italy
WinJeff JordanDecision (split)12April 28, 1987Japan Nagoya, JapanWon WBC Continental Americas
Heavyweight title, which was later
vacated.
LossJose RibaltaTKO1 (10), 2:10January 17, 1987United States Coconut Grove, Florida
LossRocky SekorskiTKO6 (10)August 2, 1986United States Detroit Lks., Minnesota
LossDwight Muhammad
Qawi
TKO6 (15), 2:56March 22, 1986United States Reno, NevadaMatch was for the WBA Cruiserweight
title
.
WinKip KaneTKO8 (12), 1:37December 13, 1985United States New York City, New YorkWon WBC Continental Americas
Heavyweight title, which was later
vacated.
WinTom Franco ThomasDecision10June 29, 1985United States Santa Rosa, California
WinTom FischerDecision10May 9, 1985United States Detroit, Michigan
WinRick KellarTKO2 (10)April 9, 1985United States Honolulu, Hawaii
WinLupe GuerraTKO4 (10), 0:43February 21, 1985United States Detroit, Michigan
LossCarlos De LeónDecision (unanimous)6 (10)March 6, 1983United States Atlantic City, New JerseySpinks later vacated the NABF
Cruiserweight title.
WinJesse BurnettDecision (unanimous)12October 31, 1982United States McAfee, New JerseyWon vacant NABF Cruiserweight title.
WinIvy BrownDecision10February 24, 1982United States Atlantic City, New Jersey
LossLarry HolmesTKO3 (15)June 12, 1981United States Detroit, MichiganFight was for the WBC Heavyweight
title
.
WinBernardo MercadoTKO9 (12)October 2, 1980United States Las Vegas, NevadaWBC Heavyweight title eliminator.
WinKevin IsaacTKO8 (10), 0:52May 3, 1980United States Redwood City, California
DrawEddie LópezDraw (points)10March 8, 1980United States Las Vegas, Nevada
WinAlfredo EvangelistaKO5 (10), 2:43January 12, 1980United States Atlantic City, New Jersey
LossGerrie CoetzeeTKO1 (12), 2:03June 24, 1979Monaco Monte Carlo, Monaco
LossMuhammad AliDecision (unanimous)15September 15, 1978United States New Orleans, LouisianaLost The Ring/WBA Heavyweight titles.
On March 18, 1978, Spinks was stripped of the WBC Heavyweight title for refusal to fight Ken Norton, the WBC's number-one contender, in favor of a rematch with Ali
WinMuhammad AliDecision (split)15February 15, 1978United States Las Vegas, NevadaWon The Ring/WBA/WBC Heavyweight titles.
WinAlfio RighettiDecision (unanimous)10November 18, 1977United States Las Vegas, Nevada
DrawScott LeDouxDraw (points)10October 22, 1977United States Las Vegas, Nevada
WinBruce ScottKO3 (8)June 1, 1977Canada Montreal, Quebec
WinPedro AgostoKO1 (8), 1:55May 7, 1977United States St. Louis, Missouri
WinJerry McIntyreKO1 (6), 0:35March 20, 1977United States Louisville, Kentucky
WinPeter FreemanKO1March 5, 1977United Kingdom Liverpool, England
WinBob SmithTKO5 (6), 0:20January 15, 1977United States Las Vegas, Nevada

Amateur career[edit]

Olympic results[edit]

After boxing[edit]

During the 1990s, Spinks worked for Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling, winning its world title in 1992. In the late 1990s, Spinks was a headliner on year-round, touring autograph shows. Spinks was later brought into Extreme Championship Wrestling by promoter Paul Heyman as part of the buildup of Taz as a legitimate fighter, but according to Mick Foley nothing was ever made of the appearance, as Spinks' lone appearance at an ECW show resulted in him vomiting in a drunken stupor.[citation needed]

In 2009 Spinks was featured as part of the 2009 documentary Facing Ali, in which notable former opponents of Ali speak about how fighting Ali changed their lives.

As of 2012, Spinks lives in Columbus, Nebraska. He told a reporter his life is "comfortable", and that he keeps a low profile.[3]

"I love helping the kids," he says. He loves being a hero to them and he also still loves working a room.[4]

Personal life[edit]

His son, Cory Spinks, held the undisputed welterweight title and was the International Boxing Federation Junior Middleweight champion in 2006–2008.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Riches to rags The Boston Globe, December 21, 2005
  2. ^ "Leon Spinks' career boxing record". BoxRec. Retrieved July 27, 2008. 
  3. ^ Steve Sipple, "Ex-champ Leon Spinks cleans up in Columbus". Lincoln Journal Star, April 4, 2005.
  4. ^ Powell, Jeff (June 2, 2010). "Leon Spinks today". The Daily Mail (London). Retrieved 2011-11-03. 

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Muhammad Ali
WBA Heavyweight Champion
February 15, 1978 - September 15, 1978
Succeeded by
Muhammad Ali
WBC Heavyweight Champion
February 15, 1978 - March 18, 1978
Stripped
Succeeded by
Ken Norton
Awarded title
Preceded by
Jimmy Young W12 George Foreman
(March 17, 1977)
Ring Magazine Fight of the Year
1978 - W15 Muhammad Ali (February 15)
Succeeded by
Danny Lopez KO15 Mike Ayala
(June 17, 1979)
Preceded by
Jorge Lujan KO10 Alfonso Zamora
(November 19, 1977)
Ring Magazine Upset of the Year
1978 - W15 Muhammad Ali (February 15)
Succeeded by
Vito Antuofermo D15 Marvin Hagler
(November 30, 1979)
Preceded by
Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier
BWAA Fighter of the Year
1976
shared award with Sugar Ray Leonard, Leo Randolph,
Howard Davis, Jr. and Michael Spinks
Succeeded by
Ken Norton