Judah stops Spinks in 9th round

Sunday, February 6, 2005

ST. LOUIS -- Zab Judah spoiled Cory Spinks' homecoming.

Judah claimed the undisputed welterweight title Saturday night, beating Spinks with a ninth-round technical knockout and silencing a mostly partisan sellout crowd.

"I was hungry, I was determined," said Judah, of Brooklyn. "It's my time, it's my era."

Judah lost a unanimous decision to Spinks in April in Las Vegas. He knocked Spinks down in the 12th round of that fight and referred to the rematch as the 13th round, saying he simply ran out of time.

Judah was the aggressor throughout this fight, neutralizing the crowd of more than 20,000 that chanted for Spinks, the son of former heavyweight champion Leon Spinks, who accompanied his son into the ring.

Spinks got the star treatment during introductions, with rapper Nelly accompanying him into the ring and leading the crowd in a singalong. Before Saturday, Spinks had twice successfully defended the title.

On Friday, Judah said he thought fighting in St. Louis would be an advantage for him and not Spinks because of the potential distractions.

"I'm very disappointed," Spinks said. "I let a lot of people down, but I have to hold my head up. I have to take this like a man."

The fight was stopped at 2:49 of the ninth round, after Spinks was knocked down for the second time by a big Judah left hand. Judah pressed the attack after the first knockdown and avoided Spinks' desperate efforts to tie him up.

Spinks said he had been "groggy" and his corner didn't agree with the decision to stop the fight.

"I had no problem, I was going up the steps to stop it myself," said Kevin Cunningham, Spinks' trainer and manager. "This just wasn't Cory's night."

All three judges had Judah (33-2, 24 knockouts) comfortably ahead when the bout was stopped.

Judah's victory was his third in a row since that April loss to Spinks in Las Vegas, and it paves the way for a deciding third bout, presumably in New York, because Judah is from Brooklyn. Both fighters said they would be interested.

"Oh yeah, I want to fight him again," Spinks said. "This was a good fight. I gave him a chance and I hope he gives me one in return."

The fight was the first major bout in St. Louis in more than 40 years, and it was a sellout, helped by Spinks' large following.

But Judah set the tone from the first round, stalking Spinks while the champion mostly danced. He also staggered Spinks, dropping him to his knees at the bell in the seventh round, but it was not judged a knockdown.

Spinks (34-3, 11 knockouts), sensing he needed a big finish, had a strong start to the ninth round and connected with a big left about 40 seconds in and then followed with a nice right and a combination.

None of it affected Judah, who knocked down Spinks for the first time with about 50 seconds left in the round.

"Spinks did exactly what I thought he'd do," Judah said. "He was running from my left hand, which made him pull back and let me take it to his body."

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