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Spinks Survives, Klitschko Upset
By Wayne Richardson (April 12, 2004) 
Before I get into reviewing Saturday’s first-rate fight card, I really have to congratulate HBO on another fantastic showing. Thus far, 2004 has been a great year for boxing’s top channel. I also want to congratulate Roy Jones, JR. on his excellent commentating which was intelligent, concise and while little biased towards Judah it’s not the first time a HBO commentator has been accused of this. Although I was a little unsure of how Roy would perform (in previous interviews he mumbled so fast I couldn’t understand him) he was pleasant to listen too and unlike the preceding announcer what came out of his mouth actually made sense and not meant to aggravate Merchant. While I do feel bad that Larry Merchant has no one to argue with anymore he seems content to take out his aggressions on the boxers and trainers during interviews. HBO now has a great commentating team that will add to the overall viewing experience.

When the match up between southpaws Cory Spinks and Zab Judah was first announced a collective groan could be heard coming from boxing fans everywhere. Because when southpaws meet up the usual result is a stinker of fight that is painful to watch and when the two fighters are known as boxers rather than punchers it is usually guaranteed to turn out that way.

However Saturday’s card didn’t fall into that category. Surprisingly it was an exciting fight with plenty of good exchanges, a couple of knockdowns and a suspenseful ending as a result of them. In large part the excitement was due to undisputed welterweight champion Cory Spinks assuming an uncharacteristic role an aggressor and taking to fight to Challenger Zab Judah, the fighter with the bigger punch.

Judah entered the ring first at 147lbs with a serious, but almost uninterested look on his face to the melodic strains of Super Cartel (sorry I listen to Sinatra and Johnny Cash) in keeping with his hip hop persona. He looked strong at the welterweight limit and carried it well on his small frame having added the extra weight in muscle.

Not to be outdone, champion Spinks was welcomed in by another hip hop group J-Kwon doing his fancy dance that reminds of the time my brother in law sat on his wife’s curling iron. He then treated the audience to a duet with the performer all the while looking relaxed, confident and a hell of a lot bigger than Judah, outweighing him by ten pounds.
After the introductions the two met in the center of the ring for last minute instructions from referee Joe Cortez, and it was there that the size discrepancy could clearly be seen for the first time.

The first third of the fight was controlled by Spinks and his jab, bloodying Judah’s nose h in the second round. He moved well from the body up to the head with jabs, throwing a straight left when ever Zab attempted to lunge in and when he did get inside, Cory tied him up well until Cortez separated them. Spinks hit Judah with big left in the second round snapping his head back, but never hurt Zab who just shrugged it off and continued with his plan of trying to time the champion in hope of landing a big punch. It looked possible after the second round as Spinks seemed to be reaching more with his left then throwing it, leaving his head dangerously exposed. Judah attempted to land some big shots, but they were easily slipped by Cory. The fight was shaping up to be a mismatch until Zab started to pick it up in the third round after a clash of heads in the final seconds of the second woke him up. He began to pick up the pace and started jabbing more, slipping punches and countering with good punches to the body, but was soon again slowed down by a couple of hooks by Spinks. By round four Spinks was clearly in control landing his jab and hooks and Judah looking desperate mounted an aggressive swinging attack, but was tied up instead.

The fifth round was when things started to change and Judah using all of his experience adjusted to Spinks style and began beating him to the punch landing some brutal body shots. He slowed the champion’s attack and was soon landing the harder shots, winning the round handily. Judah continued the attack in the sixth, again landing hard body shots and combinations though most where caught on Cory’s arms. He now had timed Spinks most effective weapon, the jab and was beating him to the punch. Cory now looked visibly tired and a little flustered by the new style adapted by his foe. The seventh round was a tough one to score because each landed well fighting on the inside and banging the body, until a clash of heads separated them. By the eighth round Judah was back in control going low to slip punches and landing hard left hands even wobbling Spinks en route to winning the round.

The final third of the fight had seen both fight dominate throughout the fight and it appeared that the challenger had taken control and the title was within his grasp. He continued to dictate the pace and was scoring well in the ninth when a common thing with Judah happened, he began to lose focus. He started to clown around and talk to ringside spectators so confident that he now had control, but he forgot he was fighting a man with incredible focus who was not ready to give up the belts. The clowning awoke Spinks and he gained a second wind for the tenth round, turning the tables on Judah by regaining control with the jab.

Entering the championship rounds the fight was still up for grabs and the eleventh was very even until Spinks caught Judah stepping straight back off balance with a short left and dropped him. It sealed the round for him by two points and possibly the fight if he could stay away for the next round. Cory was advised by frenetic trainer and friend Kevin Cunningham to stay away for the final round and box and he would easily take the decision. The bell sounded for the twelfth round and Judah came out looking for the knockout, but Spinks moved well boxing and keeping away from the power, tying up when necessary. He was winning and still landing good shots until in the final minute he traded with Judah and took a perfectly placed left hand that dropped him hard. He showed his great heart by rising and surviving the rest of fight.

The fight was now in the hands of judges and while the fight was close, Spinks had easily done enough to win the match and retain his title. Two of judges had it scored 114- 112 for Cory and third also scored it for Spinks but in a little more lopsided score of 116-111.
Doghouse had it scored for Spinks also 114-112 giving rounds 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 10 and 11x2 to him.

Spinks didn’t make the fight on himself easy, but he did win and hopefully he will earn respect for the great match he helped produce. Look for Don King to match him against the winner of Ricardo Mayorga Vs Jose Rivera. Judah also fought well, but can’t seem to focus enough to go twelve rounds and is too small to compete at 147. He should grab some Ritalin and drop down to junior welterweight where he has the talent to dominate, even try to set up a fight with Ricky Hatton, Mitchell or even better, Arturo Gatti.

The main event fight was supposed to be the big return for heavyweight contender Wladimir Klitschko, but turned out the probable end of his career. He faced Lamon Brewster and was beating him from pillar to post, but finally punched himself out and couldn’t continue after five. He carries a doctorate in Phys Ed, but must of missed the class on muscle fatigue because he didn’t realize that the more muscle you have the greater amount of energy it takes to support them. He chose instead to throw three hundred punches in the fourth round and expend all his energy. Wlad tired himself out and gave the fight away rather then losing it. As for Brewster, his style to take a beating and hope to tire his opponent out does not complement a lasting career or a healthy retirement.
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