By Phil D. Jay
Leon Spinks III makes his professional debut on Friday night on home soil in Missouri as he continues a fight tradition stretching back 35 years in the boxing ring and prolongs the family name that has become synonymous with boxing.
The 24 year-old, who will campaign at light-welterweight, has sacrificed his work and school-life for a shot at big-time boxing and will dip his toes into the paid ranks on Rumble Time’s ‘March Mayhem’ card this week in a four-round contest.
Spinks’ grandfather Leon defeated a faded Muhammad Ali in 1978 in just his eighth pro fight via a split decision at The Hilton in Las Vegas to become the world heavyweight champion at 24. 'Grandpop' as Leon called him would then suffer his first defeat in the rematch as ‘The Greatest’ regained the world crown for the third and final time.
Great Uncle Michael became the undisputed light-heavyweight king in 1984 after reigning as WBA champion since 1981 and it eventually took a peak Mike Tyson up at the heavyweight limit, to inflict his only defeat. ‘Jinx’ would then retire with an impressive record of 32-1, with 21 KO’s, including two victories over Larry Holmes in the mid-eighties and four world titles.
Cory, 34, is also a former world champion and continues to fight today. The ‘Next Generation’ claimed the undisputed world title this time at 147lbs and was rated as one of the top pound-for pound fighters in 2004. Cory then claimed the IBF light-middleweight belt twice at light-middleweight until halted spectacularly by Cornelius Bundrage in 2010. He came back with two victories, most recently against Sechew Powell in January this year and is now in line for a rematch with Bundrage in the summer.
Spinks III knows he has a lot to live up to, but is intent on making his own name and has was keen to make sure boxing wasn’t hereditary as a career path, hence the lateness of his arrival in the profession.
“I always wanted to fight. I just made sure that it wasn’t all that I was going to be about,” Spinks explained to World Boxing News.
“Like Leon and Michael are remembered as great fighters and Cory is still up there today as a great fighter, but I want my resume to be so long you can’t read it off of paper!
“My family have no choice but to support me because I may be the last of it all and I want to bring everything in one go like they always dreamed. Cory is a great boxer but I am so different and more packed.
The fledgling pro has no real amateur pedigree and wants to make it in boxing his own way, which means any everything else in his life is on hold whilst boxing takes the forefront.
“I’m pursuing this boxing career on my own and I have had to live life first. I got a job, I went to college and boxing was on the back burner for a while since I didn’t have any help. I’m still doing this on my own terms and have had to drop working and school to give this my undivided attention.
“I learned from my past family mistakes - so my common-sense and skills should do the trick for me and help to get me to the places where I want to go in boxing."
'III Generation' then went on to reveal his expectations for the coming year; “I expect a great break out year for me and show the world that the Spinks family is so much more than one dimensional because I bring character, entertainment and a true love for the craft.
“As I always say - I bring conflict and lower confidence.”
Phil D. Jay covers boxing for worldboxingnews.net