Cory Spinks-Zab Judah II: Will We Remember the Boxing Match or the Rowdiness at the Savvis Center?
05.02.05 - By Umar ben-Ivan Lee: The City of St. Louis will witness its first major boxing event in years on Saturday. This event has been made possible due to the success of Welterweight champion Cory Spinks, the legacy of the Spinks name in St. Louis, and the support of the local business community along with the political establishment. Don King was given an offer he couldn't refuse to host this fight at the Savvis Center which is a venue that has never hosted a major boxing event and is showing its inexperience in its dealing with the public and the press in the days leading up to the fight..
Article posted on 05.02.2005
Zab Judah will be facing a hostile crowd on February 5th and many St. Louisans have made their voices heard regarding their dislike of the Brooklyn native. During the press conference for the event unruly fans shouted profane insults toward Zab and his father Yoel Judah. A chant of "f*** New York" emerged form the crowd.
This is a crowd that included dozens of local St. Louis gang-members and a host of other thugs who joined boxing fans and curious onlookers. For the first time in my memory, and I have been to dozens of sports arenas across the US, I witnessed drug-dealers and gang-members openly
discuss their trade, schedule drug-transactions, snort heroin, shoot-dice in the lobby, and speak of their desire to riot of Spinks loses. The environment at the Savvis Center more closely resembled that of a prison social than a regulated sporting event.
An environment like this shouldn't intimidate the Brooklyn-native Judah and his entourage. He grew-up in a rough environment on the streets of Brooklyn and will have in his corner his father, a ten-time former world kickboxing champion and two-brothers who are professional boxers along with private security provided by Don King.
Judah has publicly stated that "the judges can stay at home" he is seeking to end this fight by knockout rather than face the wrath of the inexperienced Missouri judges. Of course this talk does not faze Spinks and his manager Kevin Cunningham; they have faced Judah once and came away with a victory (even though it was a close one). The game plan for Spinks is simple; box and move and stay away from the Judah left and capture a decision that can possibly set up a fight with Shane Mosley, Kostya Tszyu or even Oscar De La Hoya. The plan of Judah will be the exact opposite; stay active, pressure Spinks and seek to land the left with power and call it a night and be there to fight Mosley or Arturo Gatti in case Floyd Mayweather can't make that fight. Neither fighter has forgotten the lessons of the first bout when Judah gave away the early rounds after coming in with no consistent game plan and Spinks barely survived the fight after getting nailed with a Judah left in the 12th.
What Don King, Mayor Francis Slay, Chief of Police Joe Mokwa, the Savvis Center and the camps of Spinks and Judah may not have a game plan for is a riot. New York fight fans can vividly remember the chaos that erupted after the first Riddick Bowe-Andrew Golota fight and how the NYPD at Madison Square Garden was taken off guard and dozens of people were injured and sent to the hospital, innocent fans were attacked and ethnic-rivalries spilled out onto the streets of Manhattan.
February 5th coincides with Mardi Gras and St. Louis is home to the second-largest Mardi Gras celebration in America. The St. Louis Police Department will have its hands full with the Mardi Gras crowd and more than likely will be unable to adequately respond to a riot-situation if it occurs at the Savvis Center.
Adding to the equation is the St. Louis hostility to New York as it exists on the streets. When it was announced at the press conference that rappers Jay-Z and P.Diddy, two personal friends of Judah, may be attending the fight, the rowdy gang-bangers in the Savvis Center crowd yelled out in an unruly fashion just as loud as they had cheered when it was mentioned that St. Louis rapper Nelly would be at the event.
"If I see that Nigga he is gettin robbed." A local St. Louis member of the Crips street gang who goes by the name BK informed me referring to Jay-Z. BK stands for "Blood Killer".
People familiar with the St. Louis Hip-Hop scene are well-aware of the fact that St. Louis has always had hostility towards East Coast Rap. The great MC's of New York, for the most part, never sold well in St. Louis and the St. Louis market has been dominated by West Coast and Southern music.
In fact just a few short months before the death of Biggie Smalls the MC was at a club in St. Louis as part of an event with Luke of 2 Live Crew fame and was booed off of the stage. The Brooklyn MC is now remembered as one of the greatest to ever hold a mic but in St. Louis he was booed like a rookie in a freestyle contest while the crowd chanted "Tupac, Tupac".
One factor that will certainly play into the success of this event is the preparedness and security of the Savvis Center. Having experienced the open practice of the drug-trade, gambling, rowdy behavior and threats of violence from the crowd during the press conference one can only imagine what the Savvis Center will be like on February 5th. If security couldn't contain less than two-thousand people for a press-conference how are they going to stop a riot with 20,000 people on hand?
"St. Louis is gonna win. We gonna put St. Louis on the map and those New York Niggas are gonna leave sorry they ever heard of St. Louis. One way or the other we gonna win the fight." Another local St. Louis Crip who refused to identify himself said.
Let us hope that after February 5th we will remember the boxing match and not an unprepared Savvis Center and City of St. Louis.
Umar ben-Ivan Lee may be contacted at [email protected]
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