Boxing


Judah-Spinks: You Can Run, But You Can't Hide!

06.02.05 - By Wray Edwards: The other day as we were driving back from watching some sparring, we saw a woman who was "jogging" along the sidewalk. A pretty common sight you might say, but there was a difference: she was running backwards. A curious talent, one thinks, for all but linebackers and forwards. Not so last night. Last night we saw the concept of what might be called "retro-running" endlessly demonstrated by Corey Spinks in his "defense" of the undisputed (WBC, WBA, IBF) Welterweight crown versus challenger Zab Judah.

In any other arena, except for his home town, Corey's reverse "fightology" would have drawn many a chorus of boo's. This writer, at the apron of several fights this weekend witnessed that very thing. Guys who back-peddled excessively were rudely encouraged by the crowd to get in there and fight. It's one thing to go in reverse at certain tactical points in a match, but to establish retreat as a leitmotif for a title bout is unprofessional, especially for a "champion."

Judah, from Brooklyn, New York came to St. Louis' Savvis Center to face Spinks and his rowdy fans, some twenty-thousand strong. Zab calmly sauntered down the isle and entered the ring amidst a hail of insults and boo's. He quietly walked around the ring as the arena, and all its inhabitants, were turned over to the interminable entrance fanfare of Corey Spinks. With a nearly incoherent artiste called "Nelly" at his side, Corey passed under a replica of the St. Louis Arch, which spewed fireworks after he passed.

All down the isle Spinks demonstrated his disjointed end zone choreography to the cheers of his fans. The singer should have been singing "cult of personality." It went on, and on, and on, and on. Finally, after moving forward farther, as it turned out, than he eventually would in the ring during the fight, everybody was able to get to the business of Boxing.

Jimmy introduced the boxers and Referee Armando Garcia brought the fighters to the center for final instructions which included emphasis on the avoidance of clinches. Judah danced his heart rate up as Spinks stood motionless. The bell brought the two fighters together, for the second time, as Zab commenced to earn one-twelfth of what Corey was getting for the event (a million two for Spinks, just 100K for Judah).

Rounds One through Eight were all pretty much the same, as Zab chased Corey around and around the ring. A good shot here and a good hit there as Zab, cat-like, sought effective range and Corey counter-punched. Because of Spinks hit-and-run fight plan, yours truly gave only Rounds Two and Five to the St. Louis native. Both boxers scored occasionally with a slight edge to Judah. Interestingly, given equal scoring contact, Zab seemed completely unfazed by Corey's landings, whereas Spinks was
noticeably affected by Judah's powerful deliveries.

During the first eight there were a few moments. Judah's forehead made medium contact with Spinks mouth (R7) as they both careened into the ropes. Corey did a brief jab-and-grab Ruiz rendition (R8), and after a three or four combination of misses by Zab, Corey's gloves touched the canvas (R7) just after the bell. He was probably still a bit loopy from a punishing Judah left right left which preceded the misses. Both fighters have quick hands, with avoidance agility at striking range slightly in Judah's favor. One became increasingly uncomfortable with Corey's unwillingness to close.

Commentators Farhood and Bernstein seemed slightly forgiving of Spinks fistic foibles. However, their mild bias was about to be erased.

ROUND NINE proved to be the juncture at which we were all to discover whether Zab's promise to increase his pace earlier in the fight this time was to bear fruit. At about 0:57 Zab misses a big sweeping left and ends up in a right-armed Spinks head-lock. As Zab breaks out Spinks extends a straight right which ends up over Judah's head leaving Corey's right head wide open and his body off-balance.

Coming out of the head-lock Zab sets his left leg and brings a seismic left to Spink's head which flops him over to his left like a Gumby doll just as the commentator surmised a Spinks resurgence. Somehow Corey rights himself as Zab misses several until a withering right at 0:52 puts Spinks down near the ropes. Corey gets to his feet, eats the eight, and winks his right eye at Garcia who waves Spinks on to his fate. 0:35 Zab brings a crisp left causing Corey to hang on for dear life from 0:32 to 0:26 until Garcia pries him off. As the chase resumes Judah prangs a huge right to Corey's head which renders him helpless.

At this point Judah's experience and judgment tell him that Corey is completely at his mercy and he looks to the ref to stop the bout. Garcia indicates fight on, but as Judah sets to continue he looks to Garcia yet again in disbelief with no result, so he delivers a frightening left 0:20 to Spinks knocking him around the ring. Corey reels helplessly backward absorbing two persuing lefts the second of which was practically over Garcia's shoulder as he stepped in at 0:13 to TKO Corey. Corey, who came into the ring as a husky 163 pound middleweight, appeared much the bigger man versus the 155 pound super-welter in the person of Zab Judah. Along about round seven or eight Corey became noticeably heavy-footed and seemed to lose the mobility, backwards or forwards, upon which he had been counting so heavily. Perhaps his rap/disco performance before the fight took more out of him than he realized. More likely it was Judah's feline quickness and stamina which ruled the day.

As his Saint Louie fans sat in stunned disarray, Corey Spinks, to his credit, showed his good sportsmanship and congratulated his opponent with a hug and words of friendship. As this took place Don King continued to disingenuously wave his little, trademark flags. Post fight interviews included talk of a rubber match. One wonders if equity might prevail, should the third fight take place, and Zab will get twelve times the amount which Corey receives - seems fair.

That, of course, depends on what others are prepared to do in these weight brackets. There are many high-profile opponents which might bring larger purses to Judah to include De La Hoya etal. Judah seems to be at the perfect weight for his talents. Any lighter might reduce his power, any heavier might reduce his mobility. His willingness to accept such a humiliating percentage of the purse is proof of his confidence, secure in the knowledge that the belts would be a very equalizing compensation.

This fight will probably become the benchmark of his career. Not that he won't have more exciting, or richer contests, but as a turning point to solid status as an elite, world-class champion, this fight will remain seminal to his future.

Article posted on 06.02.2005



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