Cory Spinks won a close split decision against Deandre Latimore in St. Louis, and John Duddy suffered the first loss of his career in Newark on an eventful Friday night in boxing.
Spinks (37-5, 11 KO) won on scores of 115-112, 114-113 and 112-115 despite being dropped in the first round by the fast-starting, younger Latimore (19-2, 16 KO). Latimore seemed to lose a lot of steam after the first four or five rounds, and a sloppy, clearly declining or at least really rusty Spinks was able to take advantage and swing the fight in his favor for the majority of the latter half of the contest.
It was a decent showing for the young Latimore, whose offense needs straighter punches and whose defense needs to start existing, but it was clear he just wasn't quite ready for a deep fight. He was really exhausted in the 12th and final round, which essentially won the fight for Spinks. Latimore looked like a stiff breeze could've blown him over in the waning moments.
For Spinks, it's another recognized world title and a chance to get back into the mix at 154 pounds. Most probably hoped he would stay gone, but give credit where it's due: As sloppy and rusty as he looked, he came to fight tonight. He didn't run at all. Rather, he was generally the pursuer against Latimore, walking him down and testing his reserves. He wore on him a ton by staying in the pocket endlessly and leaning on the young man. In the end, Spinks' mid-rounds adjustment and savvy wound up paying off.
For Latimore, it's a setback, and he's back to the drawing board. He had sat on the semi-bogus ranking he got for beating a disinterested Sechew Powell last June, and now that he took his fight, he lost it. He needs fo get back in the ring sooner this time around. It seems 50-50 to me whether he becomes a real top-flight fighter or not. He could, but there's still a lot of work to do. The good news is he's still just 23 years old. We're talking about a really young pro.
In Newark, John Duddy was outpointed by journeyman Billy Lyell, a shocking setback for Duddy that was bound to happen given his close calls against mediocre opposition in the past. Lyell (19-7, 3 KO) is a punchless guy that has been stopped by James Kirkland, Charles Whittaker and David Lopez in the fight. Official scores were 98-92 and 96-94 for Lyell and 97-93 for Duddy.
Duddy (26-1, 17 KO) may well have a hard time recovering from this loss in a career sense. His undefeated record and his Irish heritage were about all he had. He's a great guy and a real fighter, but his flaws are evident to anyone that's watched him even once, let alone many times. I hope to get a look at this fight soon, to see how I would have scored it. It's not inconceivable that Duddy might've gotten a raw deal. Hell, he's benefitted from a couple in my opinion. It happens.
The good news for Duddy? His style and his natural following will always make him marketable. He'll eventually find his way into a major fight if he can get a few wins to put the L in the past, and lucky for him I don't think fans view perfect records quite as psychotically as matchmakers do.
On the same card, Kassim Ouma (26-6-1, 16 KO) lost his fourth fight in his last five outings to Gabriel Rosado, who was rather handily outpointed by young Fernando Guerrero earlier this year on Friday Night Fights. That's really gotta be it for Ouma's hopes of being a top guy. Losing to Jermain Taylor is one thing; losing to Saul Roman and Cornelius Bundrage was a real step back. Losing to Rosado (12-3, 7 KO) really hurts. Rosado is a tough kid and a clever sort of fighter, but this just kills whatever stock Ouma had left.
On Friday Night Fights: Gary Stark Jr. lost by third round TKO to Antonio Escalante, and Danny Jacobs took care of Jose Varela inside of two. Jacobs seems likely to replace James Kirkland on the Hatton-Pacquiao undercard against Michael Walker.
And finally in Thailand, Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (72-3-1, 38 KO) beat Julio Cesar Miranda (29-4-1, 22 KO) by unanimous decision to win the interim WBC flyweight title.
Don't forget we'll be back tomorrow with live, round-by-round coverage and scoring of both of the big American fight cards: Carl Froch-Jermain Taylor in Connecticut on Showtime, and Juan Manuel Lopez-Gerry Penalosa on HBO in Puerto Rico. Join us then!