Recently ESPN's Jeremy Schaap interviewed 51-year old Mike Tyson for the show E:60.
The story was every bit as informative as the tales his father, Dick Schaap, used to tell about Muhammed Ali. While their conversation was missing those trademark Cassius Clay comments like, "I've seen George Foeman shadowboxing, and the shadow won!", one thing it did have was a reference to Iron Mike's 91-second knockout on June 27, 1988, at the Atlantic City Convention Hall in New Jersey against St. Louis native Michael Spinks.
In fact, in his role as narrator, Jeremy Schaap even went on to describe this victory as career defining for the first half of Tyson's in-ring existence. Prior to that Iron Mike had clocked several second-round knock outs over guys like Trevor Berbick for the WBC Heavyweight title, Alfonso Rattliff and Tony Tubbs at the Tokyo Dome on Mar. 21, 1988, so even though Michael Spinks never fought again, I simply don't agree.
Unlike pugilists such as Larry Holmes, who fought a total of 71 times in his career, Michael Spinks stepped away from the ring with just 31 fights worth of damage to deal with. That allowed him to be of sound mind and body as he transitioned into the next phase of life, all of which seems more than appropriate for career that began a gold-medal winning performance at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal as a middleweight.
So, if Michael Spinks is the rule Evander Holyfield should've followed instead of fathering 11 children with six different women, another perfect example of how not to live your life is his brother, Leon. Now-a-days Leon Spinks has had so many teeth knocked out of his skull that his speech is slurred and his smile brings joy to no one. His happiness is an instant reminder of how a man who once had champagne wishes and caviar dreams now battles just to gum his chicken fingers into submission.
Life wasn't always like that for this Missouri native and current Nebraska resident, though. Leon Spinks also burned bright like a shooting star just like his brother. His greatest height came in 1978 when he defeated Muhammad Ali by split decision for the world heavyweight title, and seven months later his fall from grace began with a unanimous decision loss to Ali in an unapproved rematch.
When it as all said and done Leon Spinks retired at age 42 with a record of 26-17-3. He also lost five of his final eight bouts. This includes a first-round knock out against journeyman John Carlo on Oct. 22, 1994, and a very curious win by disqualification against Eddie Curry five months earlier in Raleigh, N.C. To be specific, his opponent refused to answer the bell for the ninth round because he thought the fight was only slated to go eight.
Finally, after losing an eight-round unanimous-decision on Dec. 4, 1995, in St. Louis, to Fred Houpe, who literally hadn't fought in 17 years, Leon Spinks decided to move on to greener pastures. Along the way he also competed in several boxer vs. wrestler matches for New Japan Pro Wrestling in the 1980's and in 1992 he won the Frontier Martial Arts-Wrestling championship.
The days of Bobby Lane, a quarterback for the Detroit Lions in the 1950's, drinking all night and winning championship's are long gone. Ricardo Mayorga may still be telling the tale of threatening Don King during an alcohol-fueled phone call, but he's also talking about having lost two of his last five and three of his last seven bouts.
Potential is nothing if it isn't realized, so, if you're wondering exactly how that's done, I'll either see you Aug. 4 at the Centralia gridiron jamboree or Aug. 5 at Mexico midnight football.