Former Champ Spinks brothers celebrating birthdays together
On July 22nd, the only man to hold the Undisputed Light Heavyweight and a portion of the Heavyweight championships, Michael Spinks, will turn 64 years old. And, interestingly, that comes just ten days after his brother and fellow former Undisputed Heavyweight Champion, Leon, also celebrates his birthday.
And, there had been some uncertainty earlier this year if the elder Spinks was going to survive a hospital stay while battling cancer.
— Flo Anthony (@banananosekid) July 11, 2020
Born and fighting out of St. Louis, Missouri, The brothers became the first ever to capture Gold Medals at the same Olympics in boxing. That’s, when 20 year old, Michael won the Middleweight Championship and 23 year old, Leon, the Light Heavyweight Gold in the 1976 Montreal Summer Games.
Turning pro shortly thereafter, it was Leon that pulled one of the most shocking upsets in Heavyweight title history when, as we wrote previously, in just his eighth pro fight, Spinks beat the “Greatest of All Time,” Muhammad Ali in a 15-round decision in February of 1978 .
Even though Leon would lose the rematch to Ali later that year, no one can ever take away his place in boxing history. Leon faded more into the background, as the 1980s rolled on having failed in another bid to become Heavyweight champ, when Larry Holmes kayoed him in 1981.
But, that’s when Michael, already the WBA and WBC 175 lb. champ, became a household name for fight fans around the world in winning the Undisputed Light Heavyweight title with a decision over IBF champ, Eddie Davis in February 1984.
The younger Spinks then set his sights on following his brother and also, capturing the Heavyweight championship. To do so, he bulked up an additional 20 pounds to take on Holmes in September of 1985.
Spinks won a controversial 15-round decision that not only won him the IBF version of the Heavyweight title, but also handed Holmes his first ever professional loss after a 48 – 0 career. Holmes falling just one win short of matching legend Rocky Marciano’s perfect 49-0 career.
The two rematched a year later and Spinks won, again, in an equally controversial 15 round decision over Holmes.
Michael Spinks was eventually stripped of the IBF title for refusing to fight #1 contender, Tony Tucker, in 1987. He instead took a $4 million payday and knocked out Gerry Cooney in June of that year.
By 1988, “Iron” Mike Tyson had captured all of the belts and was now the Undisputed Champion himself, even though some still regarded Spinks as the “Lineal Title” holder for never having been beaten in the ring after he defeated Holmes twice.
Just recently in June, it was the 32nd anniversary of Tyson’s destruction of Spinks in Atlantic City, which solidified his Hall of Fame status and retired Michael Spinks for good at barely 33 years old.
Still, Spinks had made $13.5 million guaranteed that night.
Late last year Leon Spinks, who turned 67 on Saturday, was hospitalized in Las Vegas, while battling complications from bladder cancer. His wife had told media members that the older Spinks was near death before making a strong recovery and being able to be released back in March.
Leon has really been seen in public over the past few years, except for an occasional autograph and memorabilia show.
Likewise, Michael has basically kept to himself and rarely given interviews over the years, since his retirement.
However, in these weird and at times, scary year of 2020, it is neat that the Spinks brothers were together for this past weekend to celebrate their July birthdays, yet again, together