Spinks shocked the boxing world when he defeated Muhammad Ali in 1978 to capture the heavyweight championship.
Leon Spinks, who shocked the boxing world when he defeated Muhammad Ali in 1978 to capture the world heavyweight championship, died last night in Las Vegas. Spinks, 67, had been in ill health for a number of years. The reported cause of death was cancer.
Spinks, a native of St. Louis, burst into national prominence when he won a gold medal at the 1976 Olympic games. A little over a year later, with only eight credited professional fights, the ex-marine faced off against an aging Ali.
The 24-year-old Spinks took it to the champ, pounding him on the inside and forcing the fight.
Ali rallied in the last round, but Spinks fought back – winning the bout by split decision. Sadly, Spinks wasn’t able to enjoy his victory for long.
The WBC stripped him of his title, and then, in a rematch with a motivated Ali, he lost his WBA belt by unanimous decision. It was a case of too much, too soon.
The rest of Spinks rollercoaster boxing career consisted of many losses and only one more crack at the heavyweight title. Spinks fought on till he was 42, dealing with financial and later on, health problems. Spinks is brother of former light heavyweight and heavyweight champion Michael Spinks. His son Cory is a former two-division titleholder.
Maxboxing sends prayers and condolences to the Spinks family.