Jermain Taylor vs Cory Spinks; Something Kind of Different
By Alex Pierpaoli (April 4, 2007) Doghouse Boxing (Photo © Everlast)
It’s being billed as Border Battle which leads one to wonder whether that’s because the match-up is right on the border of being a legitimate challenge for the Middleweight King, or because the May 19th weekend is right on the border of the end of spring and the more traditional Memorial Day start of summer, or geographically speaking, Border Battle could refer to a sort of interstate rivalry between neighboring Arkansas, home of Jermain Taylor and Missouri, home of Cory Spinks. Whatever logic is behind it, Jermain Taylor will defend his undisputed Middleweight Championship against arguably the best Junior Middleweight in the world, Cory Spinks on May 19th in Memphis, Tennessee. Hoping to capitalize on the celebratory
atmosphere in town that week co-promoters Lou DiBella and Don King have put the match-up together to coincide with the city’s Memphis In May festivities which include the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, also known worldwide as the Super Bowl of Swine.

In a media conference call last week Taylor’s promoter Lou DiBella ribbed his cohort Don King, Cory Spinks’ promoter, about the culinary contest taking place during fight week.

“The weekend of Taylor-Spinks is sure to be a festive atmosphere,” said DiBella. “And I know that my co-promoter and good friend Mr. Don King would be very thrilled by that because as I told some members of the press, the only thing King knows more about than boxing is barbecue.”

But is the match-up between Taylor and Spinks more smoke than sizzle? This is the second fight in a row for Taylor in which he faces a blown up one hundred fifty four pounder rather than a solid 160 pound challenger. In December, Taylor outpointed and outclassed Kassim Ouma, the other 154 pounder who can claim to be the best at that weight. But according to DiBella, Spinks was the only fighter to step up to the challenge.

“This fight was offered to a large number of middleweights who turned it down, said DiBella.  “Among them former IBF middleweight champion Arthur Abraham, present WBA middleweight champion Javier Castillejo, former WBA middleweight champion and a man who many view as having beaten Oscar De La Hoya, Felix Sturm, we can go through more, obviously Sergio Mora.  You know, from that point on particularly with Miranda and Pavlik having a scheduled fight, we’re fighting the best guy out there.”

Considering that list of middles that wanted no part of Taylor, Cory Spinks steps in and steps up as a worthy adversary. A skilled and slick boxer, Spinks has fought only twice at 154—two decision victories over Roman Karmazin and Rodney Jones, which come on the heels of his kayo loss to Zab Judah in February of 2005. But taking risks are part of what being a fighter means to Cory Spinks.

“We are in the game of gladiators, that's what we are,” said Spinks. “And we just got to go in there and do our thing, do what we do best and execute and gladiate.”

Part of the beauty of the pre-fight conference call is being reminded that grammatical freestyle and the inventing of curious new verbs is not only the practice of Presidents these days, fighters have been doing it for years. Gladiate is this writer’s verb of the week.

But gladiating is not really what Jermain Taylor is known for.

“Jermain Taylor is just simply, what we call in the vernacular ghetto, something kind of different,” said Don King. “We call it SKD because it takes this type of a risk, you know what I mean, this is what champions are made of and this is what makes champions.”

Perhaps King is right and a lot of the knocks on Taylor are because so many hope and expect him to be something else. He is not a middleweight wrecking machine in the mold of Marvin Hagler nor is he the fistic craftsman in the image of a prime Bernard Hopkins. Taylor is a talented and athletic boxer who learns and improves right before your eyes in every fight. Against Spinks he is likely to shine, quite probably even brighter than he did in December versus Ouma when he tried too hard to kayo the durable Ugandan and spent the later rounds fighting hard against exhaustion as well as the challenger. On May 19th in Cory Spinks Taylor will be facing a skilled but smaller southpaw who may be just the fighter to make Taylor look like the boxing great he appears and aspires to be.

“I am getting a little sick of southpaws,” said Taylor.  “But you know hey, I will fight anyone, just like Cory said, I want to fight the best.”

On the Taylor-Spinks undercard, top ranked Kelly Pavlik and Edison Miranda will meet in a bout that will determine the best possible challenger to Taylor’s title and there are bigger challenges for Taylor that lie ahead should he turn back Spinks. But promoter DiBella was a little coy in talking about those potential match-ups.

“Jermain first has to get past a great champion in Spinks,” said DiBella. And then you have guys like Roy Jones, you have guys like the winner of Bernard Hopkins and Winky Wright, the winner of Miranda and Pavlik, Joe Calzaghe- the winner of Calzaghe and Manfredo- there are no shortage of big name fights and big name opponents out there.  But we are not even going to consider them until we get past Cory Spinks.”

Maybe Team Taylor isn’t considering those future bouts with any seriousness at this point but they certainly seem confident about their chances against Spinks.

And they should be.

Tickets will go on sale today, Wednesday, April 4th and are available at the FedEx Forum box office, all Ticket-Master outlets, online at or charge by phone at 901-525-1515.  Ticket prices are graded from $550 for the front ringside, $450 for the second tier ringside, $125, $95  and there will be 7000 tickets available at $45 which include a reduced rate of $25 seats for students, senior citizens and active military.

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