Sharkie's Machine: Judah Grabs The Titles From Spinks

06.02.05 - By Frank Gonzalez Jr.: Zab Judah (33-2-1-24 KO's) scored a TKO 9 victory over Welterweight Champion, Cory Spinks (34-3-0-11 KO's) Saturday night in front of Cory's hometown fans in St. Louis. This redeeming win over Spinks evens their records against each other at 1-1 and invites a rubber match that might ultimately settle the score.

In December of 2003, Cory Spinks rose to fame, when he put on a boxing clinic that demonstrated how the refined application of the sweet science could tame a savage, brawling beast in the ring-Ricardo Mayorga.

The big punching and less than disciplined Mayorga lost his WBA and WBC Titles to IBF Champion, Spinks, rendering the son of former Heavyweight Champion Leon Spinks, the 'undisputed' Champion at Welterweight and a new Star on the rise..

Spinks defended his Titles successfully against Zab Judah in April of 2004, winning a close decision that saw Judah go down in the eleventh round and Spinks go down in the twelfth. Spinks had put enough rounds in the bank in that fight that even though he was the last man knocked down, he still won the decision. Had that been a 15 round Championship fight-Judah might have won by KO in the 13th round.

His second defense was against Miguel Angel Gonzalez in a twelve round shutout for Spinks. Bad match making and a questionable opponent getting a shot at Spinks Titles made for a boring, predictable fight.

Taking on Judah for a second time, in Spinks' third Title defense was not only risky but a badge of honor for Spinks, who was able to arrange for the fight to take place in his hometown of St. Louis.

Cory Spinks was undefeated in St. Louis, where his last three opponents were, Charles Ward (6-11-0), W by UD 8 in December of 2001, Jorge Vaca (65-21-2) W by TKO 7 in September of 2000 and Ken Manuel (0-17-0) W by TKO 3 in January of 2000. Zab Judah is no creampuff.

Judah entered the ring first, with little fanfare.

It was a grandiose ring entrance for Cory Spinks, who was accompanied to the ring by rap Star, Nellie, who rapped incoherently into the microphone as Spinks did his slinky dance all the way to the ring. When they got to the ropes, they sang a duet. Spinks has a strangeness about him that somehow reminds me of Miles Davis, the late, great Jazz musician.

After all the hype and anticipation, it was finally on. In the early rounds, there was a lot of action but not a lot of scoring as Spinks used his slick boxing technique to keep Judah at bay while popping his jab and landing an occasional power punch that did little damage but scored points, enough to win the majority of the first six rounds of what turned out to be a nine round contest.

Unlike last time against Spinks, Judah made one appreciable adjustment in his style; he abandoned the showboating and instead, focused solely on the mission of catching Cory with a Goodnight punch that would propel him to greatness. Zab aggressively stalked Spinks from the opening bell. Fighting a man like Spinks requires full attention, because Spinks does most of the little things right. But it would be Spinks who couldn't afford to make any mistakes this time around and Judah capitalized big time when Spinks zigged, where he should have zagged.

The Fight

Round 1
Judah aggressively took the fight to Spinks, who used his legs and his jab to keep Judah at bay. Judah hardly touched Spinks, who circled Judah and changing directions often. While neither landed much-Spinks scored more, using his jab from the outside and had control of the tempo. 10-9 Spinks.

Round 2
Spinks continued circling and popping Judah with shots from the outside, mostly jabs. Spinks scored from a few shots that landed and Judah, who couldn't catch Spinks, landed even fewer. 10-9 Spinks.

Round 3
They boxed and had a few exchanges whenever Spinks would avail himself to Judah's attack. Judah landed a three-punch combination to the head and body of Spinks, which accounted for the most damage in an otherwise stalemated round. 10-9 Judah.

Round 4
They boxed, with Judah the aggressor. Spinks eluded much of Judah's punches early in the round. Spinks was getting the better of the exchanges, as Judah still couldn't catch him. When Judah did land, his shots only grazed Spinks. 10-9 Spinks.

Round 5
Spinks was in control, boxing from the outside, popping his jab and whatever else Judah allowed when the distance was right. Midway into the round, Judah caught Spinks with a straight left to the body, giving Spinks a taste of his power. Spinks moved back outside and Judah cut off the ring, then got Spinks against the ropes and slammed him with a three-punch combo to the face that had to hurt. Zab was starting to find his rhythm and Spinks was starting to show some chinks in his Armour. 10-9 Judah.

Round 6
Judah aggressively stalked and was finding Spinks more regularly. Judah landed some grazing blows and Spinks held. Clearly, the body shot in the last round was paying dividends for Judah, who attacked Spinks' body some more during clinches. Spinks became more aggressive and scored with a straight right hand but Judah landed a big right hook to his jaw in return. Judah landed more often and his shots were more telling. 10-9 Judah.

Round 7
Judah landed a right jab to the face. Spinks clinched. When they broke, Judah landed another right hook to his jaw. The tide had turned and it was Judah in control at that point. Judah landed a left hook to Spinks face and was winning all the exchanges when they clashed. Judah threw a wild right hook that Cory ducked, and then as they were near the ropes, Spinks slipped sideways onto the canvas. It was rightly ruled a slip but Judah's shots were affecting Spinks' balance. Spinks landed a big left hook that Judah hardly noticed. Judah popped Spinks with a left hook and Spinks clinched. With seconds left, Judah missed with a left hook but caught Spinks with a follow up right, followed by another left that forced Spinks off balance. Judah continued the onslaught and Spinks' both hands touch the canvas in an attempt to save himself from going down as the bell rang. The referee, Armando Garcia, said, "No knockdown." But it WAS a knockdown. 10-8 Judah.

In Spinks' corner, his trainer says, "You can not stand around. He's not going to let you rest!" Spinks did not look comfortable on his stool.

Round 8
Judah smelled blood and went right after Spinks, who stayed on the outside and tried to box his way out of trouble, but was missing with his jab and appeared on the brink of disaster. Judah's confidence was sky high as he landed a chopping right, left combo to Spinks' head. Spinks backed up; Judah rushed him into the ropes and wailed on him until the referee broke them up. Spinks complained to the ref about something as he reset his mouthpiece and indicated something that led me to believe he felt Judah head butted him on the mouth. The ref paid him small mind. Action resumed. Spinks got aggressive but was missing most of his shots. He did manage to land a straight right to Judah's face but Judah barely noticed. Spinks wrapped his arms around Judah's waist and pushed him into the ropes. Judah raised his arms as if to ask the ref, '.what's he doing?" Spinks' body language was screaming trouble and his legs didn't have that same spring they had in the early rounds. 10-9 Judah.

Round 9
Spinks landed a big left hook then flicked his jab at Judah, who steadily stalked him. Spinks landed another left hook, they clinched, then boxed, then Judah landed an overhand left, followed by a right and then another overhand left wobbled Spinks like a Weeble that wobbles but won't fall down. Judah continued with a right, left, right, left, right, left that finally felled Spinks into the ropes in awkward fashion. For all the pummeling he took, Spinks was up on the count of four. Referee Garcia asked him, "How we doing?" and Spinks winked at him, masking the truth. Action resumed. Judah swung wildly and caught Spinks with a right uppercut followed by a left hook upstairs. Spinks tried to grab onto Judah but Judah landed a straight left that staggered Spinks. Judah got real busy and was wailing on Spinks (who was only on his feet because the ropes were holding him up). Judah motioned to the ref, but the ref paid no mind. Spinks clinched, the ref broke them and Judah landed a right that rocked Spinks. Judah looked to the ref incredulously, wondering what he had to do to get him to stop the fight before Spinks got hurt badly. But Garcia didn't budge. So, Judah whacked Spinks, who went flying into the corner ropes, practically out on his feet. As Judah came forward to finish him, the ref finally stepped in and stopped the fight. Judah was the winner by TKO 9.

* * *

Congratulations to Zab Judah on a very strong and DISCIPLINED performance. In the past, Zab would talk to people at ringside in the middle of a round, in a showboating manner that left him distracted. In this fight, he didn't waste any time showboating. When the opportunities presented themselves, Judah was paying attention where he needed and delivered on his promise to knock Spinks out.

This was the best I've ever seen of Zab Judah. Not only that, but after the fight-his biggest win ever, he was surprisingly gracious. There was no barking in self-adulation, no calling himself the best pound for pound fighter, or contemptibly calling out other fighters. Instead, he was giving
Spinks credit for the talented fighter that he is. And when Spinks walked over to congratulate him, they embraced in a sign of good sportsmanship that had to be heart warming for the fight fans that respect them both.

Zab "Super" Judah is now the proud owner of the WBC, WBA and IBF versions of the Welterweight Titles. It's been a long road for the former Lightweight Champion, who was paid a poultry $100,000 in his rematch with the Champion, Spinks, who took in 1.2 million. Now that Judah's "The Man," he can expect to earn the Lion's share of the purse in his next bout.

Cory Spinks certainly wants a rematch and he deserves one. Spinks was good enough to give Judah a second opportunity when he didn't have to and it would be honorable for Judah to give him the same courtesy. After their 21 rounds of boxing, Judah would be a heavy favorite since his power proved to be too much for Spinks in their second fight. But Spinks has shown before that power is only good as the boxer who possesses it. Judah has gotten better, and at 26 years old, he's in his prime and with the right focus, can only get better. Judah vs. Spinks III would make a LOT of money.

However, all honors aside, there's lots of money to be made for the new King of the Welterweights. Oscar De La Hoya is supposedly retreating back down to 147 and anyone who gives him a shot at their Belt, win or lose, can make millions in the process. Oscar's name alone is synonymous with big money and everybody wants to fight him before he hangs up his gloves.

Shane Mosley is also going back to Welterweight, and his big name could also spell big bucks for Zab. Its not like Mosley will have to work his way up the ladder of contention to get a fight with Judah. When has Mosley ever had to do that? Mosley is a perennial top contender because of his name recognition.

There's also WBO Champion, Antonio Margarito, who is an excellent fighter but suffers from a lack of 'name recognition' and therefore, probably not the most attractive match up in the eyes of Judah's handlers. But if Judah were to beat Margarito, he would own all four of the most recognizable Titles. Yeah, I know, but while the WBO is the lowest regarded, its still the fourth highest regarded in the bowl of alphabet soups. The last guy to unify all four Titles was Kostya Tszyu, but out of respect for Judah's well-deserved moment in the spotlight, I won't go there.

Welterweight is chock full of quality fighters that also include WBA 'Interim Champ,' Jose Rivera and up and coming, WBO 'Interim Champ,' Kermit Cintron would make for some quality match ups, if not the most lucrative.

Other possibilities might include a rematch with Kostya Tszyu, (who beat Judah by KO 2 in 2001) at either 140 or 147. Of course, that depends on what happens after Tszyu faces Ricky Hatton in June. But Tszyu vs. Judah II would be a big money fight for both sides. The only problem might be deciding who enters the ring first (if they meet as Champions). Other than that, it's doable. I mean, what boxing fan would miss that one?

I salute both Zab Judah and Cory Spinks for an honest fight that was decided in the ring and not by the Judges.

* * *

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photo: Tom Casino/Showtime

Article posted on 06.02.2005

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