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SAILORS SHOOT HORSE! DON'T THEY?

Sunday, April 27, 2014

ONE PUNCH FROM
THE
PROMISED LAND

LEON SPINKS, MICHAEL SPINKS
and
THE MYTH OF THE HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE

by

JOHN FLORIO 
and
OUISIE SHAPIRO

One Punch from the Promised Land


The current state of boxing sucks today! 

Without a doubt the golden age of boxing was back in the 70s, 80s, and early 90s. Back then you had Duran, Hagler, Hearns, Leonard, Benitez, Arguello, Mancini, Holmes, Ali, Shavers, Pryor, Red Lopez, Tyson...the list goes on and on on. 

And they had no problems squaring off against the toughest guys in their weight class or other divisions. Going up in weight, going down in weight for just two belts then - WBC or WBA (the IBF and WBO would pop up when the sport began to decline). A good share of the time the fights were on ABC, CBS, and NBC on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon for free. If it was a huge night such as Larry Holmes against the Acorn - Earnie Shavers with Duran and Leonard on under-card bouts, it would be on a prime-time Friday night. It was great! Everybody knew who the champ was back in those days. 

But let me warn you that if you think that Floyd Mayweather is an all time great then this book is definitely not for you. For God's sake, Mayweather has been ducking a undersized Filipino fighter for years who started off as flyweight! His reasoning being that devilish Manny is on the juice and in the process passing up on a 30 million dollar payday. Spare me! Tommy Hearns would have dropped two weight classes and smoked Pacquiao in one round for a quarter of that purse!

But if you're fan of that era in boxing that ran from the 70s to the 90s, then this is the book you definitely want to check out. This one of the best books on boxing in years. And in many ways it is also a very sad book. 

This book centers around the Spinks brothers from their horrible childhood in the crime and drug ridden Pruitt-Igoe projects in St. Louis to the start of their amateur careers which led to Olympic glory and eventually on to winning the heavyweight belt. On two very different paths. 

A fun loving, booze and  cocaine fueled Leon would upset an out of shape Ali in only his 8th pro bout and the party never ended after that. Leon would drink, snort, and whore his way to a loss to Ali in the rematch and then immediately it would seem free fall to journeyman status and finish up with a final record of 26 wins, 17 losses, and 3 draws. And flat broke! Leon would actually lose his last fight to a fighter who had not fought in over 16 years. After venturing into low end martial arts and pro wrestling shows it was last reported that Leon was living in some backwater town in Nebraska.

After taking a time out to babysit Leon at the start of his career, Michael began his professional career and would not only win the light-heavyweight strap but would go on to upset the unbeaten Larry Holmes for heavyweight honors and eventually take on Iron Mike Tyson in of the biggest fights in history only to get destroyed in 91 seconds. Unlike his brother, he avoided the limelight, saved his money, and retired quite comfortably. That is until his longtime manager, Butch Lewis died, and it was discovered that he had ripped off Michael for an estimated 24 millions dollars. 

The authors did a ton of research and interviews with dozens if not hundreds of boxing insiders for this book - and it shows. It not only delves deeply in the Spinks brothers careers but also in the other fighters of that era and explores the back alley dealings and borderline criminal activity that has always been associated with boxing. Even if you are a huge fan of boxing you'll read stuff here that you never heard or read before.