By Mark Staniforth
With a father who stunned Muhammad Ali and an uncle who will go down as one of the all-time great light-heavyweights, Cory Spinks had a lot to live up to from the first moment he laced on gloves.
But while Leon became notorious for the fleeting nature of his fame, and Michael quit the ring after his first and only loss to an upcoming Mike Tyson, Cory has got one over his famous relations by learning the value of longevity.
Spinks, surprisingly still only 33, rebounded into world light-middleweight contention last Saturday night with what many called an upset win over Sechew Powell on points in Springfield, Missouri.
Before the fight Spinks, a former undisputed welterweight champion, had appeared to be on a downward slide, losing three of his previous four meaningful fights - including two successive attempts to claim back his IBF crown.
Having been squeezed out by split decision against both Jermain Taylor - for his then undisputed middleweight crown - and Verno Phillips, he was stopped in five by Cornelius Bundrage in August 2010.
But if Saturday night was intended to anoint Powell the next light-middleweight contender, Spinks, with a new trainer and manager in tow, tore up the script to win comfortably on points.
"I'm only 33 years old and I feel like new money right now," said Spinks. "I've won five world titles, I have a name and I think I bring a lot to the table for a marquee name, a world championship fight or both."
Spinks turned professional in 1997 and although his sharp skills took him to the fringes of world title contention it seemed his lack of power would let him down. He lost his first bid for the IBF welterweight title to Michele Piccirillo in 2002.
As a name non-puncher, however, he was perfect opponent material for champions who did not want to take obvious risks, and he seized his opportunity to stun Ricardo Mayorga to claim the whole slew of welterweight crowns in 2003.
Better was to follow, with a high-profile win over Zab Judah in his next defence which lifted his profile and made him a pay-per-view name. Another win was to follow before a stoppage defeat in a rematch with Judah in 2005.
It seemed likely that would be that. Spinks had every reason to be satisfied with his career, which had had the added bonus of bringing him back in close contact with his father, who had been going through hard times.
Leon was present at ringside for a number of his son's title fights, and though Cory's name is not destined to trip off the tongue quite as readily, he more than upheld the family tradition by claiming the unified crown.
And that may not be the end of the story. Spinks remains loyal to master matchmaker Don King, who enthused: "If Cory applies himself mentally and physically, he is a significant threat to anyone at or near 154lbs."
Spinks is being lined up for a rematch against Bundrage, with his new manager Scott Hirsch insisting the fighter's chance in circumstances has brought him back to the very top of his game.
"I felt the reports of Cory's demise a few years ago were greatly exaggerated," said Hirsch. "I agreed to work with him because I felt he was just too good and had a lot left in his tank.
"He proved me right on Saturday against one of the best fighters in his division. The Spinks Jinx is back and ready to wreak further havoc in boxing."
Mark Staniforth covers boxing for PA Sport.
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