Normally, I save these for just the big PPV cards or something similar, but I have nothing better to do right now, and for some reason there are still many things about this card on my mind.
Photo © Tom Gannam / AP
- 1. Spinks won the fight. Like almost all of his fights, this was one with a lot of close rounds. But Verno Phillips' gameplan was lacking anything that really was scoring points. I know judges in some cases will score for action if there's not a lot of it, and as always, the Cory Spinks main event had little. But Phillips' attempts to pick up the pace boiled down to lunging in and missing. Here and there he would hit a power shot, but Spinks appeared to be staggered just one time in the fight -- and Phillips was landing these things square, if maybe a hair off balance a lot of the time.
Spinks, meanwhile, did his usual peppering and moving routine. He outlanded Phillips. And he wasn't AS inactive as usual; Cory actually chose to mix it up a few times at points where he normally wouldn't. I don't consider Spinks a "runner"; we've been over this numerous times, and we'll get more into it later, but people throw around "runner" like it's going out of style, which unfortunately, it isn't. I would class Spinks more as "non-combative."
- 2. All that said, do you know why Spinks was willing to take more risks than usual? It has nothing to do with being rusty, with firing Kevin Cunningham out of the blue a few weeks ago, or with a decision to give the fans more "entertainment" -- the fans, by the way, booed at various points, and at the final bell, in Spinks' hometown. No, it had everything to do with the fact that Verno Phillips was loading up on several shots, connecting on some of them, and it didn't bother Spinks. He had no fear of Phillips' power. This was a fight with two guys that don't punch hard and both have good chins.
- 3. As for the crowd in St. Louis... not good. Some reports suspect that this will be the final Spinks-headlined card at the Scottrade Center (formerly the Savvis Center) in St. Louis, which means Cory is moving even further down the chain, and that would've been true had he won as he deserved to. 8,874 were in the building, and that included thousands of papered seats, where patrons hadn't paid for their tickets because they're radio personalities or pals with Cory or Leon or Michael or Cory's kids' friends or whatever. When they saw something good, the crowd was hot. Good fight fans. But they weren't kind to Cory's bout. When your hometown turns on you, everyone has seen enough, no matter how good you are.
If a promoter can't make coin off of you, it's tough to get fights. Throw in that he's a guy no one likes to fight because he makes you look bad, and Cory Spinks has gotten himself into a really bad situation.
- 4. Let's talk about "running." When people say Floyd Mayweather, Jr., runs, I tell them to go watch Derrick Gainer or Andre Dirrell fight, then come back with a new perspective. If anyone says Spinks runs, the main support bout last night showed you what running is. 33-year old Panamaniac Miguel Callist brought his track shoes for his bout with Devon Alexander. I'll admit, I thought we'd see some spirited action in this one. Alexander always comes to scrap, and Callist had a chance to knock off one of the sport's highly-touted youngsters, like Darrell Woods did last year to Samuel Miller, or like Miller's next loss, Brian Vera, did recently to Andy Lee.
Instead, Callist ran, ran, and ran some more. He circled the ring God knows how many times in an effort to not fight Alexander, who thoroughly dominated the fight, helped in part thanks to Callist refusing to engage in a fight. Callist was also one of those obnoxious fighters -- like Dirrell -- who makes a grand show of running around like an idiot, with the dancing and shimmying and gesturing and face-making.
Look, I'm all for defensive fighters and slicksters and counter-punchers. But that's not what Callist did last night, and that's not what Andre Dirrell does. I'm not asking everyone to come out there and be Arturo Gatti. I like Floyd Mayweather's style. I like Winky Wright's turtle shell defensive style. But watching a guy literally do laps around the ring makes me wonder why they're even out there. It's a nice cardio workout and bruises might really get you some tail at the truck stop if you explain your situation, but this isn't ballet. Fight, for God's sake.
- 5. I love undercard mismatch fights, and thankfully we got to see some on the webcast. Just those little six- and eight-rounders that where one guy is coming in to get some work done and the other guy is coming in to get his paycheck. My favorite of the night was between John "Action" Jackson, who came in 10-1 with 10 knockouts, and Leroy "Rootin' Tootin'" Newton, a native of Michigan City, Ind., my girlfriend's hometown and where I spent my Easter Sunday. Northwest Indiana has a fairly active boxing scene, though nothing terribly special, and it was almost alarming to watch Jackson immediately pounce on Newton and beat the crap out of him for 2:10 before the KO shot came. Even in defeat, the stylish Leroy "Rootin' Tootin'" Newton is now one of my favorite fighters.
- 6. Another fun one: Super middleweight prospect Marcus "Too Much" Johnson (yes, "Too Much" Johnson -- come on) delivered a crushing liver shot to Jose Medina to end that one in short order. It was a beautiful punch. After the fight, the awkward in-ring interviewer foolishly asked the incredibly green but promising Johnson if he was ready for a top ten contender. Even Don King seemed to think that was moronic.
- 7. I'm happy for Verno Phillips and all, but if I said I was looking forward to his first defense -- which I fear will be a rematch with Spinks -- I'd be lying.
- 8. Seriously, is there a more shallow division past the strawweights than the junior middleweights? Vernon Forrest is now the No. 1 guy in the pack without much in the way of questions.
- 9. King and Co. should be commended for the card, even though it wasn't one anyone was particularly looking forward to. They did a great job, the quality of the stream was excellent, the presentation was professional and top-notch all around (outside of Bob Sheridan's ridiculous and obvious bias toward Spinks), and you can't ask for much more than that out of a free broadcast. Kudos, Don.
- 10. To be honest, though, I could've cleaned my kitchen or something instead. King says we'll get more of these webcasts. Let's hope he puts on better fights next time, but putting on good, competitive fights is not exactly Don's forte anymore.