Cory Spinks: Hard To Keep A Good Champ Down

Cory SpinksBy Michael Herron: Throughout his boxing career 5-time champion Cory “The Next Generation” Spinks has been called many things, feather-fisted, a runner, fragile, boring, but after Friday night’s victory over fellow St. Louis native Deandre “The Bull” Latimore perhaps its time to call him what he really is, a great fighter. Standing at the crossroads of his fighting career, Spinks found himself in a win or retire situation, not only did he desperately need a victory after losing the IBF junior middleweight title to Verno Phillips a year ago, but he also needed to fend off a daunting challenge from a young gun who coveted not only the world title but also the St. Louis fan base that Spinks has worked diligently to build.

Though Latimore (19-2,16K0) is young and lacking in experience, he has proven to be a very aggressive and dangerous adversary. Knockout victories of 16 opponents including perennial contender Sechew Powell gained him quite a following amongst local fans and media. It was only a matter of time before he’d be given a shot against a top opponent. In essence, Latimore is exactly the kind of warrior that many established fighters choose to avoid; match-ups were the risk is much greater than the reward. A closer look at Cory Spinks resume however reveals that this is not the first time he has accepted risk over reward. His desire and willingness to take risks without a substantial reward (in relation to the biggest names in boxing) is precisely what has made him a great fighter; it also is why he may ultimately be recognized as one of the best of this era.

Spinks was born into a boxing family and carries a famous last name however nothing has come easy for the “next generation.” Growing up on the north side of St. Louis, Spinks, like many inner city youth, was not shielded from guns, drugs, and violence, the do or die mentality of the streets. A series of unfortunate events saw Cory, at age 17, hospitalized after suffering a gun shot wound to the upper torso. Even more tragically, Cory lost his older brother Leon Calvin who was a top St. Louis amateur and 2-0 as a pro when he was murdered in 1990.

In the ring however, the trials and tribulations of life are paused and the only thing that matters is the 36 minutes allotted to defeat your foe. It is in this arena that Spinks is at his best and where his overall boxing skills have proven to be very unique in the sport today. Not gifted with accumulative power or one punch knockout ability, Spinks has to use his speed, reflexes, feet, legs, grappling, angles, shoulder roles, bobs and weaves, quick hits, jabs, flurries, and every other trick in the book to give him the edge in fights. There is no such thing as an easy victory for Cory Spinks; he has to work twice as hard as most fighters, sometimes leaving him gassed and vulnerable. While some critics have blasted Spinks for not being able to stop opponents, others have begun to appreciate the precision, the movement, the work he puts into those 36 minutes.

So what makes Cory Spinks a great fighter? While one great fight can make history, a history of winning makes a fighter great. Simply put, Spinks is a winner, a former unified welterweight champion and two-time junior middleweight champion; he has received no gift decisions, ducked no challenges, and has defeated very good fighters during their prime and in title matches.

In terms of the risk involved Spinks has traversed a difficult path, a journey that deserves to be told. He traveled to Italy to defeat hometown hero Michele Piccirillo for his first welterweight title in 2003, he then unified the titles against a man who at the time was considered the most dangerous welterweight in the world, Ricardo Mayorga. He defended the crown against Zab Judah and handed him only his second professional loss. After losing the title to Judah in a rematch Spinks did not fade away from the sport but went on to enhance his career. He moved up to junior middleweight and defeated a dangerous champion in Roman Karmazin. Next, he challenged middleweight champion Jermaine Taylor; and in a fight where most thought he would be knocked out, he lost a controversial decision that many thought should go his way. Finally, after losing his junior middleweight title to Verno Phillips, Spinks reunited with trainer Kevin Cunningham and last Friday produced possibly the best performance and most important victory of his career.

At 31 years of age and still close to his prime, Spinks has yet to empty his bag of tricks. If his promoter Don King has his way a future mega-fight with one of the biggest names in boxing may be in the cards. Whoever he faces next a bit of advice would be to not take Spinks lightly, anything can happen in 36 minutes.

As the night ended Spinks had succeeded in not only claiming a 5th world title but winning back his fans. Unconcerned with medical treatment he chose to meet and greet those who remained. Amidst the flash of cameras and requests for autographs a fan vying for Spinks attention yelled out “Yo Cory, you earned that!” Spinks immediately paused and began looking around to find who said that, the fan came closer but this time pointed to the title belt around his waist and said in a humble tone, “Hey Cory, you earned that.”

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Article posted on 28.04.2009

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