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In an incredible night of fistic history, Leon Spinks snatched the world heavyweight title away from the legend that was Muhammad Ali. The 24 year old, 197 ¼ pound Spinks, fighting his eighth professional bout, outran, outpunched and outfought the aging 36 year old 224 ½ pound champion. Spinks emerged from their 15 round title bout with a split decision and the world heavyweight title. This was the stunning climax of a Cinderella story for the 24 year old ex-Marine who rocketed from a St.Louis ghetto to fame as an Olympic Gold Medal winner in 1976. The Spinks victory was the greatest upset in heavyweight history since the man then called Cassius Clay took the title from Sonny Liston in Miami on February 25, 1964. It was the fourth time in history that the heavyweight championship has changed hands on a decision. The first time was in 1926 when Gene Tunney outpointed Jack Dempsey for the title. The sellout crowd of over 5,000 at the Hilton Pavilion was in near hysteria as ring announcer Chuck Hall proclaimed “The winner and new world heavyweight champion -Leon Spinks.” The “Spinks Jinx” was in action from the opening bell. Leon sprang from his corner, jabbing furious at Ali's head. Ali resorted to the familiar tactics; covering up, dancing away, and teasing his opponent with his long left jabs. Throughout the fight, Ali resorted to his famous rope-a-dope. However, Leon Spinks was no George Foreman; and only in the middle rounds did the challenger give any evidence of tiring. The usual Ali tactics were slow, clumsy and ineffectual. The butterfly did not float-it shuffled. The bee did not sting, it merely buzzed. Ali danced his way through the third round, with Spinks constantly chasing him around the ring. Excerpted from Rng Boxing Magazine April 1978.





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