Spinks upsets Mayorga, wins welterweight titles

Posted: Sunday, December 14, 2003

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. A quarter-century after his father shocked everyone by beating Muhammad Ali, Cory Spinks pulled off a nice little upset of his own Saturday night.

Moving and jabbing and staying away from Ricardo Mayorga's wild punches, Spinks, the son of Leon Spinks, boxed his way to a majority decision over the heavily favored Mayorga to win the undisputed welterweight title.

There was no upset in the other undisputed title fight at the Boardwalk Hall, just another workmanlike performance by Bernard Hopkins.

Hopkins, making his 17th middleweight title defense, pounded out a lopsided win over William Joppy in a fight that had little of the drama and color of the welterweight fight that preceded it.

Hopkins was never able to put Joppy down, but gave the former champion a beating that caused the right side of his face to swell. The 38-year-old Hopkins had bet Joppy $50,000 he would knock him out. Despite taking some tremendous punishment, Joppy stayed upright.

The fight was so one-sided that Hopkins won 11 of 12 rounds on two scorecards and 10 rounds on the third.

''I don't know what it was, but I just couldn't get off,'' Joppy said. ''I couldn't do what I wanted to do. He hit me with some good shots, but he never hurt me.''

With his father yelling encouragement from ringside, the light-hitting Spinks frustrated Mayorga from the opening bell and took advantage of two point deductions to add Mayorga's WBA and WBC titles to the IBF 147-pound title he brought to the ring. Judge John Keane had Spinks winning 117-110, while Eugene Grant had him ahead 114-112, and Arthur Ellensen had it 114-114. The Associated Press had Spinks winning 114-112.

After the decision was announced, Spinks erupted in jubilation and hugged both his father and his uncle, former heavyweight champion Michael Spinks. Leon Spinks cried in the corner in joy over his son's win. A disappointed Mayorga, who had called Spinks various names before the fight, then kissed Spinks' hand and put the three belts around his waist.

''He was a man to come up to me and apologize,'' Spinks said. ''I've worked hard all my life. I'm a man, not a boy.''

Mayorga's wild ways didn't help him a bit, costing him two penalty points that gave the fight to Spinks. Without them, it would have been a draw.

''I thought the referee wasn't on my side,'' Mayorga said. ''He didn't have to take those points away from me. I lost because of the referee.''

The loss derailed a planned March 13 fight between 154-pound champion Shane Mosley and Mayorga, who gained notice this year with two wins over Vernon Forrest and for his chain-smoking, beer-drinking training habits.

Spinks (32-2), using the perfect gameplan for a boxer against a slugger, weaved and bobbed and stuck his jab in Mayorga's face all night. Mayorga threw big looping punches, but most often they found nothing but air as Spinks was long gone.

''I just did what I normally do box,'' Spinks said.

That was enough to win over the crowd of 12,346, which came to see a night of eight title fights of sorts and cheered every move made by the slick Spinks.

In the fifth round, an increasingly frustrated Mayorga chased Spinks around the ring, then in disgust put his gloves on his hips and dared him to fight. Later in the round, Mayorga landed a right that was his biggest punch of the fight and Spinks replied by shaking his head at him and urging him on.

Mayorga (25-4-1) was penalized a point by referee Tony Orlando for hitting after the bell at the end of the fifth round and another point for hitting and holding in the 11th round.

Mayorga began taunting Spinks at the opening bell, acting as though he was pulling up his trunks and sticking out his chin as the fight began. The southpaw Spinks had a gameplan, though, and was determined to stick to it.

Soon, Mayorga began getting frustrated by that plan, though he kept swinging wildly in an effort to catch Spinks with a big right hand.

Spinks won the IBF portion of the title in March when he went to Italy to beat Michele Piccirillo. But he had never fought the likes of the chain-smoking, wild-swinging Mayorga and had only 11 knockouts in his career.

''I've been hit hard before. I've been hit hard all my life,'' said Spinks, who was born five days after his father beat Ali for the heavyweight title on Feb. 15, 1978. ''I wasn't worried about that.''

It was the first time one fighter has held all three major 147-pound titles since Lloyd Honeyghan gave up his WBA title in 1986 in a protest over apartheid.

In other fights:

John Ruiz won a unanimous decision in an ugly fight with Hasim Rahman for what was billed as the WBA interim heavyweight title. Ruiz would become champion if Roy Jones Jr. doesn't give him a rematch within four months.

Zab Judah wasted little time in continuing his comeback, stopping Jaime Rangel with a big left hand at 1:12 of the first round of their 140-pound fight.

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