The Best of 'Neon' Leon Spinks
Leon Spinks is definitely not a household name in boxing today; however, in the mid- to late-1970s, Spinks was making a name for himself in the boxing world, having just won the 1976 heavyweight boxing gold medal in the Olympics. With a brawler's mentality and the perfect start to his career, the sky was the limit for this kid.
Only two years after the start of his professional career, Spinks was given the shot of a lifetime, something that many men only dream of: fighting for the heavyweight world title. Many found it a little strange that a man with only a 6-0-1 record would face the great Muhammad Ali in a title bout; however, it was just perfect timing on the part of Spinks and his managers who landed him the fight. This was more or less a tune-up fight for Muhammad Ali before he set his eyes on fighting the always game Ken Norton an astonishing 4th time, something that is rarely seen because Ali beat him 2 of the 3 times they fought.
Although Spinks was a 10-1 underdog, he didn't let that get in his head: he went out that night versus the greatest whoever did it and brought the fight to him. He outworked the champ, something that had never to Ali before.
Spinks battered the Champ for15 rounds and came out with a split decision victory over the presumed best fighter on the planet. The talkative Ali said nothing in protest of the decision: he knew he had been rightfully beaten by the better man that night. As Leon's team hoisted him up on their shoulders, he produced his patented gap-toothed smile; that night Leon was truly Neon.
With the recent passing of Neon Leon, I felt it only right to look back on that crazy upset in a 15-round title bout.