by Cliff Rold
Cory Spinks, the son of former Heavyweight Champions Leon and nephew of Hall of Fame Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight king Michael, has had his share of shining moments as part of the clan.
August 7, 2010, was not one of them.
Spinks had lost before; he’d been stopped before. He’d never been so utterly walked through.
Corelius Bundrage, in front of a partisan Spinks crowd in St. Louis, did just that. Bundrage figured out early Spinks didn’t have the strength to keep him off and proceeded to lay a hurtful beating down. Spinks was stopped in five and now attempts, perhaps for the last time, to add a piece to his trophy set. Once the undisputed Welterweight king, Spinks has won titles at 154 lbs. twice.
Will he find a charming third reign?
Let’s go to the report cards.
Titles: IBF Light Middleweight (2010-Present, 1 Defense)
Previous Titles: None
Weight: 153.4 lbs.
Average Weight – Last Five Fights: 153.25 lbs.
Hails from: Detroit, Michigan
Record: 31-4, 18 KO, 2 KOBY
BoxingScene Rank: #7 at Jr. Middleweight
Record in Major Title Fights: 2-0, 1 KO
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Defeated: 2 (Kasim Ouma, Cory Spinks)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced in Defeat/No Contest: 2 (Steve Forbes, Yuri Foreman)
Previous Titles: IBF Welterweight (2003-05, 3 Defenses); Lineal World/WBC/WBA (2003-05, 2 Defenses); IBF Light Middleweight (2006-08, 1 Defense; 2009-10)
Height: 5’9 ½
Weight: 153.8 lbs.
Average Weight – Last Five Fights: 154.25 lbs.
Hails from: St. Louis, Missouri
Record : 39-6, 11 KO, 2 KOBY
BoxingScene Rank: Unrated
Record in Major Title Fights: 7-5, 2 KOBY
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Defeated: 7 (Jorge Vaca, Rafael Pineda, Michele Piccirillo, Ricardo Mayorga, Zab Judah, Miguel Angel Gonzalez, Roman Karmazin)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced in Defeat: 5 (Michele Piccirillo, Zab Judah, Jermain Taylor, Verno Phillips, Cornelius Bundrage)
Pre-Fight: Speed – Bundrage B; Spinks B+
Pre-Fight: Power – Bundrage B; Spinks C-
Pre-Fight: Defense – Bundrage B-; Spinks B
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Bundrage B; Spinks B
At his best, Spinks was a quick-handed southpaw with good head movement, reactive feet, and solid fundamentals. There were never many special effects. Despite his bloodlines, he didn’t have much power or extra dimension. He just did things right and knew how to win with more toughness than given credit for.
It served him well against most of the field, allowing him to outbox Ricardo Mayorga when Mayorga was red-hot and to out-pro Zab Judah in their first of two contests. Spinks even gave then-Middleweight Champion Jermain Taylor fits. He did it all while maintaining a look of vulnerability.
Those vulnerabilities were most violently exposed by Judah in their rematch and Bundrage in their first encounter. Judah pulled together the most complete performance of his career that night in 2005, using superior talent to overwhelm Spinks and keep it going from bell to bell.
Bundrage did it different and will hope to do it again on Saturday. He jumped on Spinks, stayed close, and took away his legs before Spinks could get warm. Bundrage is no fancy dan but he is surely, nearing forty, a better fighter than he was when he appeared in the second season of “The Contender” in the mid-2000s.
Bundrage is a testament to learning one’s craft over time and maintaining the hunger to be a champion. Where Bundrage has suffered is activity. Spinks has gone to scratch twice since their first fight. Bundrage has competed only once. As a plus, that once was a decision over Sechew Powell, points vengeance for a memorable knockout loss that saw both men decked before Bundrage was stopped in just 22 seconds.
Bundrage has improved his boxing skill while maintaining the aggressive posture that marks him. Could the Spinks and Powell wins be evidence of a peak already passed? A year off for a fighter his age can wreak havoc on timing.
Spinks will need to test his timing if he has a shot here. Spinks has to be more offensive earlier without staying in range of Bundrage’s mugging assaults. One hates to say Spinks needs to run, but it wouldn’t hurt to be on the move early and often. If this fight can get stinky, Spinks has a real shot. He’s not going to be stronger than Bundrage, but he can be smarter.
Does Spinks have the legs to do it? It’s a real question. Despite being younger, he’s got a lot of wear and without an equalizer he’s got to be able to go for twelve rounds. He reportedly had his hands full with Powell in an eliminator for this shot and, just two fights before Bundrage, was outhustled in the trenches by Verno Phillips in a close one.
Spinks has to win rounds. Bundrage just has to win the fight. It’s an advantage to the titleholder.
The advantage should play out in Bundrage’s favor. Fighters have bounced back from beatings to win rematches before, but it’s hard to see what Spinks can do to keep Bundrage at bay. The thinking here is he will employ more movement and do a better job establishing the jab but it won’t last long enough. Bundrage will get close and attack and the punishment will mount quickly. Spinks lasts longer this time, but still misses the final bell. The pick is Bundrage around the eighth.
Report Card Picks 2012: 34-10
Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]