Return of the Spinks Jinx: Spinks vs Latimore

30.03.09 – By Doveed Linder – On April 24, former two-division world champion and St. Louis native Cory “The Next Generation” Spinks (36-5) will be stepping into the ring for the first time in 13 months. Cory has made a name for himself in the boxing world with respectable wins over Ricardo Mayorga, Zab Judah, and Roman Karmazin. But before Cory ever became a world champion or beat a top level opponent, he was best known for being the son of former heavyweight champion, Leon Spinks, and the nephew of former light heavyweight and heavyweight champion, Michael Spinks..

In Montreal, Canada, during the 1976 Olympic Games, Leon (light heavyweight) and Michael (middleweight), two brothers from St. Louis, Missouri, represented the USA Boxing Team. As Michael entered the ring for his final fight, Leon stood by shouting, “Spinks Jinx! Spinks Jinx!” Both brothers won gold medals and the nickname “Spinks Jinx” stuck ever since.

A “jinx” is a person, object, influence, or supernatural being which is supposed to bring bad luck or cause things to go wrong. In the case of the “Spinks Jinx,” the jinx is put on the opponents, as if their fate is sealed before they ever step into the ring.

On February 15, 1978, with only seven professional fights under his belt, Leon Spinks out-worked Muhammad Ali to become the heavyweight champion of the world. At the time, Ali was already considered one of the greatest fighters who ever lived. Six months later, Leon lost the title to Ali in a rematch. Nevertheless, he was the first of the family to become a world champion and put the Spinks name into the history books of professional boxing.

Michael Spinks began his professional career at light heavyweight and established himself as one of the best light heavyweights of all time. On September 21, 1985, Michael out-boxed Larry Holmes to become the heavyweight champion of the world. Before facing Michael, Holmes had a record of 48-0 and had ruled the heavyweight division for seven years straight. Six months later, Michael defeated Holmes for a second time in a rematch.

Born five days after his father defeated Muhammad Ali, Cory Spinks was groomed to be a champion from the start, learning how to fight under the instruction of Kevin Cunningham, a former St. Louis police officer. Cory began his career the old school way, keeping busy and fighting the best available opposition. His infamous name earned him no special favors on his rise to the top.

Cory’s first shot at a world title came in 2002 against Michele Piccirillo for the IBF welterweight championship. Cory flew all the way to Italy to ficght Piccirillo on his home turf. Most ringside observers felt that Cory won handily, but the decision went to the hometown favorite. A year later, Cory returned to Italy to face Piccirillo in a rematch. This time, he was awarded a victory and became the IBF welterweight champion.

Even though Cory was recognized as a champion by a major boxing organization, he had to defeat Ricardo Mayorga, the WBA/WBC welterweight champion of the world, to prove that he was the best fighter at 147 pounds. At the time, Mayorga was regarded as the dominant force in the welterweight division. On December 13, 2003, Cory was given an opportunity to achieve greatness. As with Leon and Michael, Cory was considered an underdog in the biggest fight of his life. With his father and uncle at ringside, Cory boxed circles around Mayorga and became the undisputed welterweight champion of the world.

Since that time, Cory’s career has seen its share of ups and downs. In his first defense of his welterweight titles, he won a decision over Zab Judah. He then went on to beat Miguel Angel Gonzalez. But the following year, Cory lost a rematch to Juduah via TKO. Cory bounced back and beat Roman Karmazin to capture the IBF junior middleweight title. After a successful defense against Rodney Jones, he moved up to 160 pounds to challenge Jermain Taylor for his middleweight titles and lost a close, and in some people’s mind, debatable decision. The following year, Cory defended his junior middleweight title and lost a decision to Verno Phillips.

Cory is now making his return to the ring against fellow St. Louis native Deandre “The Bull” Latimore (19-1). Latimore’s last fight was a 7th round TKO victory over Sechew Powell, who was the IBF junior middleweight number one contender. When Latimore defeated Powell, many were shocked that the unknown slugger from St. Louis pulled off the upset. But fight fans in St. Louis weren’t surprised one bit. Latimore has a reputation in his hometown as a dangerous fighter with knockout power in both hands. He had an outstanding amateur career and he now trains in Las Vegas with veteran trainer Kenny Adams, where he has learned a few tricks and matured as a professional.

At age 31, Cory is now in his prime and has a tremendous opportunity to build on the legacy that he has created for himself. Many believe that Cory’s previous losses are due to overconfidence, fighting in the wrong weight class, and problems outside the ring. Just a few weeks before his last fight against Verno Phillips, Cory parted ways with his longtime trainer and friend Kevin Cunningham, which undoubtedly proved to be a tremendous distraction. But Cory is now back with Cunningham and rededicating himself to his career. If he is focused and in shape, he could go far in the junior middleweight division, which is wide open. On April 24, the boxing world will see if Cory brings the “Spinks Jinx” and shows his potential as a top fighter that he has displayed in the past.