Thursday, June 08, 2023  |


Friday round up: Spinks wins, Duddy loses

Fighters Network

Former welterweight champ and 154-pound titleholder Cory Spinks survived a first-round knockdown and outpointed Deandre Latimore by a razor-thin split decision to regain the IBF junior middleweight belt in front of a hometown crowd at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri Friday night.

The crowd seemed to favor St. Louis native Latimore during the fighters’ ring entrances, but the 31-year-old veteran’s gutsy effort won them over by the late rounds of the 12-round bout.

Spinks (37-5, 11 knockouts) was caught and dropped by a big left from a hard-charging Larimore (19-2, 16 KOs) in the opening round of the bout.

“I thought it was mostly a slip in the first round,” Spinks said afterward. “I thought I tripped.”

It wasn’t a slip, and if he tripped, he tripped on Latimore’s left hand. Make no mistake, Spinks was hurt. The manner in which he collapsed, the heavy handed follow-up punches of his 23-year-old antagonist, and the 13 months of inactivity convinced many observers that Spinks was on his way out — if not in the first round, than in the second or third round.

However, the son of former heavyweight champ Leon Spinks, who is known for his ring savvy and lack of punch, exhibited his most underrated attribute in the early rounds: heart.

Spinks stayed composed, weathered the proverbial storm and by fifth round began creating space and timing Latimore with his left crosses. By the sixth round, Latimore, who had only fought past eight rounds once, was looking tired.

Both fighters suffered cuts over their left eyes and both tried to manhandle the other in close. The battle of wills between the St. Louis southpaws made for some rather sloppy phone-booth warfare in the late rounds of the bout, but Spinks surprisingly got the better of Latimore with a more consistent offense.

Latimore, who fought in spurts down the stretch, rallied in the 10th round by stunning Spinks twice with hard shots, but the veteran fighter’s experience showed in the championship rounds. Spinks was the aggressor in the 12th round.

“I knew I had to perform in the last round and I did,” Spinks said. “I’m a master at this and I went out like a dog and got it.”

He needed to win the final round to avoid a split-draw. He won the fight by scores of 115-112 and 114-113. The third judge scored the bout 115-112 for Latimore, who was upset with the decision.

“I dropped him in the first round,” he said. “That decision should have been mine. The scorecard had it 114-113 (for Spinks). I should have had that edge.”

Latimore didn’t get the edge but he did gain valuable experience that will serve him well in his budding career.

In the co-featured bout of the Showtime-televised card, junior welterweight prospect Devon Alexander (18-0, 11 KOs) stopped Jesus Rodriguez (19-4, 5 KOs) in the ninth round of their scheduled 10-round bout.

Alexander may have suffered a knockdown that the referee failed to call in the first round, but the southpaw St. Louis native won every round of the bout with his superior hand speed and movement, until he dropped Rodriguez with a punch to the back of the head in the eighth round. The Californian complained that he couldn’t see straight after the punch and was dropped to a knee by a left uppercut in the ninth. Rodriguez stayed on his knee for the 10 count.


John Duddy didn’t just lose his first pro bout Friday night at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, the popular middleweight contender lost out on at least one seven-figure payday when he was outhustled by journeyman Billy Lyell.

Lyell (19-7, 3 KOs), the loser of five of his last 10 bouts coming into Friday’s bout, won a split decision over Duddy (26-1, 17 KOs), nixing the New York City-based Irishman’s “O” as well as a proposed showdown with middleweight champ Kelly Pavlik that would have paid him at least $1.5 million.

That Duddy lost is not big news. The Irishman is a handsome left-hooker who makes for fun fights and sells a lot of tickets in New York, but he’s not the most talented or skilled middleweight out there as evidenced by his life-and-death struggles with the likes of Yory Boy Campas, Anthony Bonsante and Walid Smichet.

However, most believed he would beat Lyell, who was recently stopped by James Kirkland and David Lopez and outpointed by the ancient Campas in his hometown.

In his last bout, just two months ago, Lyell was outboxed by junior middleweight prospect Vanes Martirosyan.

In the co-featured bout to Duddy-Lyell, Kassim Ouma was upset by Gabriel Rosado, who outworked the former IBF junior middleweight titleholder to a 10-round split-decision.

Rosado (12-3, 7 KOs) won by scores of 97-93 and 96-94. One judge scored the bout 96-94 for Ouma, who has now lost four of his last five bouts.


Antonio Escalante regained the promise his career once had with an emphatic third-round knockout of Gary Stark Jr. in the main event of an ESPN2-televised card from the UIC Pavilion in Chicago on Friday.

After stalking the stick-and-moving New Yorker in rounds one and two, Escalante (20-2, 13 knockouts) flattened Stark (22-3, 8 KOs) with a lunging lead left hook at the start of the third round.

Stark got up on stiff legs and tried to create some distance from the free-swinging Mexican, but Escalante jumped him with a hook-cross combination that instantly froze and floored the New Yorker once again.

Referee Gerald Scott wisely waved the bout off with finishing his 10 count.

Both Escalante and Stark were considered hot junior featherweight prospects in 2005 and 2006; both lost nationally televised bouts in early 2007. Escalante was knocked out by Mauricio Pastrana in January of that year, while Stark dropped a controversial decision to Mike Oliver in February and followed that points loss with a shocking knockout loss to journeyman Andres Ledesma in May of 2007.

Escalante looked strong in winning five straight, including a third-round KO of Oliver in his last fight, while Stark looked shaky winning four in a row against journeymen, including a close 10-round decision over Ledesma in their rematch.

With Friday’s impressive KO victory, 23-year-old Escalante is back in the 122-pound picture. With the loss, 29-year-old Stark might consider retirement.

Middleweight prospect Daniel Jacobs may have earned a spot on the televised portion of the Ricky Hatton-Manny Pacquiao undercard with an electrifying second-round knockout of Jose Varela in the co-featured bout of the “Friday Night Fights” telecast.

Jacobs (15-0, 14 KOs), who was too fast and mobile for Varela (22-6, 15 KOs) to reach in the first round of the scheduled eight rounder, backed the Nicaraguan up with a series of body shots that set up a monster right hand to the jaw.

The punch sent Varela reeling back into a neutral corner and flat on his back where he was counted out.

With James Kirkland off the Hatton-Pacquiao undercard due to his incarceration after being charged with unlawful possession of a firearm Sunday, Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer told’s Michael Rosenthal that Jacobs could replace the troubled junior middleweight contender against Michael Walker (19-1, 12 KOs) on May 2.

All that was needed was for Jacobs to have a short night against Varela and come out of the bout unscathed. Mission accomplished.

What was seen as a “stay-busy” fight for Kirkland would be another step up in class for 22-year-old Jacobs. Walker has never been knocked out and his only loss is a 10-round decision to middleweight contender David Lopez.

However, Jacobs appears ready to make that step.

In the opening bout of the ESPN2 broadcast, 2008 bronze medalist and heavyweight hopeful Deontay Wilder made quick work of late-substitute Joseph Rabotte, knocking out the journeyman in the opening round of their scheduled four rounder.

Wilder (4-0, 4 KOs) dropped Rabotte (3-6, 1 KO) three times in the first round. The first knockdown was from a quick right cross, the second courtesy of a hook-cross combination and the third from another big right.

Doug Fischer can be reached at [email protected]