Lee Groves

10: Most notable St. Louis title fights


February 5, 2005, Savvis Center – Zab Judah KO 9 Cory Spinks II

Ten months after retaining his three welterweight belts against Judah via narrow unanimous decision and four months after virtually whitewashing ex-lightweight king Miguel Angel Gonzalez, Spinks returned home for two reasons. First, he wanted to erase any doubts surrounding the first Judah fight, for while he floored “Super Judah” in the 11th, the New Yorker returned the favor in the bout’s closing moments. Second, Spinks-Judah II was to be the ultimate homecoming for the city’s favorite fighter. Spinks was 9-0 in St. Louis and the oddsmakers established him as a slight favorite to make it a perfect 10. A Spinks win would spark further talk of big-money fights against Kostya Tszyu, Shane Mosley and Oscar de la Hoya.

The sold-out Savvis Center created a new Missouri boxing attendance record of 22,370, making the crowd as big a story as the fight. The atmosphere was a dream come true for Spinks and he reveled in it. His carefully choreographed four-minute ring walk featured a performance by St. Louis native Nelly and Spinks made sure to go dance move for dance move.  On the other hand, whatever music Judah used was drowned out by boos and catcalls.

The first six rounds featured plenty of style, speed and flash but only sporadic substance. The judges had to choose between Spinks’ ring generalship and Judah’s scattered bombs. Entering the seventh Spinks seemed in control but in the round’s final six seconds Judah exploded with a crunching left cross followed by a hook-cross that caused Spinks to fall on all fours. Referee Armando Garcia waved off the apparent knockdown, saying Spinks’ tumble was after the bell.

Spinks rebounded fairly well in the eighth and regained momentum in the ninth with several strong counters. But as was the case in round seven, Judah shattered Spinks’ sense of ease with shocking suddenness. An out-of-the-blue overhand left forced Spinks’ body to list leftward and a follow-up barrage caused Spinks to collapse under its weight. After Spinks arose at four Judah tore at him like a wild man. A final left cross turned Spinks’ legs to goo and as the hometown hero careened toward his own corner pad, Garcia waved off the fight and completed a most unhappy homecoming.

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