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The Jinx – Three Kings
By Tom Gray (April 5, 2004) 
Imagine sitting with your Dad and your Uncle, knowing that all three of you have been unified champions in boxing. Not title holders, but Undisputed Kings. It must make for some pretty good conversation at the dinner table.

The elder of the Spinks champions is of course Leon, who holds the most famous title win in the family. In 1978, Leon was 6-0-1 as a professional and was only a year and a half removed from his Olympic Gold Medal win in Montreal, as a light heavyweight. Ali was the Heavyweight Champion of the World and was on the descent. He had been taken the distance by a woeful Alfredo Evangelista and took tremendous punishment, before coming on to prevail, against Earnie Shavers in his last two defenses. An easy option was required and who better than a twenty four year old novice who couldn’t hope to last the distance, far less win.

The fight was put together by Butch Lewis and Top Rank and was considered a terrible mismatch. Spinks had no experience at such a high level and had been held to a draw by Scott Le Doux in one of his previous outings. The bout was covered by CBS and was shown live on network television and anyone who saw it, wouldn’t forget it in a hurry. Ali did practically nothing for six rounds as Spinks hammered away with both hands against the ageing champion. By the time Ali realised that he was behind, he no longer had the fortitude to turn the fight around. He tried his best in the fifteenth round, scoring with beautiful combinations, but the challenger returned fire and rocked Ali with a dynamite left uppercut. After fifteen rounds there was only one winner, although veteran judge Art Laurie famously found a way to score the fight for Ali. The new champion was Leon Spinks by split decision.

Michael Spinks was also an Olympic Gold Medallist and was tearing up the light heavyweight ranks, when his brother became the undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the World. Among his scalps at 175lbs, were John Conteh, Marvin Johnson and Yaqui Lopez. He proved his dominance in 1981, when he took the title from Eddie Mustafa Muhammad in a fifteen round decision. This victory earned Spinks the WBA strap and he was set to unify the title against the formidable Dwight Braxton at that time. In January 1983 tragedy struck when Michael’s girlfriend was killed in an automobile accident, two months short of his unification clash with Braxton. Spinks’ bravely went ahead with the fight and despite being floored in the eighth, came on to take another decision victory. Despite Michael’s famous wins over Larry Holmes, it is as a light heavyweight that he should be remembered. He was just fantastic!

The bloodlines proved to be strong enough to produce another undisputed champion in December of last year. Cory Spinks (son of Leon) had struggled for notoriety in the welterweight division, coming through in the wake of Oscar De la Hoya, Felix Trinidad and Sugar Shane Mosley. After defeating Michele Piccirillo, at the second time of asking for the vacant IBF Welterweight Title, he was finally set to make a mark against the rugged Ricardo Mayorga in a unification battle. Mayorga threw windmill like blows at Spinks in an attempt to decapitate his foe, but windmills cut through air and so did the majority of the Nicaraguan’s punches. Spinks boxed beautifully at times out of his southpaw stance and took a deserved twelve round verdict. The look of joy on Leon and Michael’s faces brought tears to the eye.

The Spinks’ family have had mixed fortunes throughout the years. Leon would lose a rematch against Ali and would never hold another title in his career. He was knocked out by a prime Larry Holmes in three rounds in 1981 and would eventually drop down to the cruiserweight limit, before fading into obscurity. Michael would only have one blemish on his record, but it was a painful one round demolition by a rampaging Mike Tyson. He would wisely never fight again, but has remained in the fight game, managing fighters with Butch Lewis.

The future looks bright for Cory “The Next Generation” Spinks and win or lose, against Zab Judah, he has achieved the ultimate goal. He sits proudly beside his father and uncle as a unified champion of the world. That makes the Spinks family very special, all over again..
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