Leon Spinks, Heavyweight Legend Who Beat Muhammad Ali, Dies of Cancer

Published 02/07/2021, 12:14 AM CST


The former heavyweight champion, Leon Spinks, was ailing with cancer for a long time. Because of the same, Spinks took his last breath in the hospital on Friday night. Firm PR, a public relations firm that represents him, unveiled the news on his family’s behalf.

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Spinks, who last fought in 1995, stayed out of the limelight throughout the course of his prolonged career. However, ‘Neon Leon’ broke into the news headlines when he defeated the all-time great Muhammad Ali in a heavyweight title fight.

The duo fought in 1978 for the WBC and WBA heavyweight titles. Spinks had completed a year into pro-boxing and entered this fight as a sheer underdog.

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The Olympic gold medallist won the 15-round bout with a split decision on the judges’ scorecards. He was just 24, competing in his 8th professional fight when he confronted Ali. Right after the fight, Spinks issued a captivating statement, saying, “I’m not The Greatest. Just the latest.”

He became a renowned name of the sport that day and established himself as a promising young gun. However, Ali avenged his loss after 7 months. Subsequently, Spinks didn’t let his spirits go down and hung around in the big men’s division for a considerable period.

Read – What Makes Maurice Hooker a Threat to Vergil Ortiz Jr.’s Undefeated Streak? – Oscar De La Hoya Explains

Leon Spinks and his mammoth boxing run

After losing the rematch to Ali, Spinks competed for the heavyweight title just once. He touched gloves with Larry Holmes in 1981 and succumbed to a T/KO loss. He then switched divisions from heavyweight to cruiserweight. ‘Neon Leon’ didn’t stick to a particular weight class and simultaneously competed in both.

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In his extensive career, ‘Neon Leon’ won 26 times and ended up on the losing side 17 times.

In his last fight, Spinks dropped a unanimous decision to Fred Houpe. Since this loss, he never really planned to come back to the squared circle. But, he etched his name in the history books with that magnetic performance over the greatest boxer, Muhammad Ali.

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His death has left several retro boxing fans in shock, and the boxing world together mourns his death.

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Prathamesh Singh Chauhan

1179 articles

Prathamesh Singh Chauhan is a Boxing Author at EssentiallySports. He is a graduate from the International Institute of Sports Management who combines his love for sports, particularly combat sports, and his flair for writing and analysis to help him in his day-to-day work. He has prior professional experience with sporting organizations such as Star Sports, Khelo India, and NBA.

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