It has been four years and ten fights since Cory Spinks beat anyone inside the distance, and that was a fighter named Dennis Allen, who carried a pumped-up 22-3 record into their February 2001 fight in Texas. When you look at the rest of Spinks' ten knockout victories, two of them came against Ken Manuel, who was 0-13 the first time he faced Spinks and 0-17 going into the rematch; other KO victims included a fighter with a 1-3 record, another who had a 1-6-1 mark, and still another who was 2-10. Forgettable types like Jim Williams, Mark Hammon and Mike Cooley, none of whom was as good as his mediocre record, failed to go the full route against the "Next Generation."
The only “name” fighter who Spinks put away was 40-year-old Jorge Vaca, who went to the canvas five times en route to his 22nd pro loss, twelve years after holding a WBC welterweight title he won on a technical decision.
Yet Spinks is far from untested. He has scored wins over Michele Piccirillo, Ricardo Mayorga, and Miguel Angel Gonzalez. And in a defense of his world 147-pound title last April, he beat Zab Judah, who at one time was everybody's flavor-of-the-month.
All of those wins were by decision, so you know our own Joey Knish, in a previous article here on The Sweet Science, was on the right track when looking very strongly at the “Spinks by Decision” proposition in the upcoming Spinks-Judah rematch on Saturday.
He's giving up a buck-five in that play (laying $1.05 to win $1), and if you believe Judah is not going to do enough to reverse the result of last year's fight, the scenario where Spinks, who is a pain in the ass to fight but who has no power to speak of, wins on points is quite likely.
If you look around you'll see attractive prices on Cory, if you're inclined to go in that direction: at Ladbrokes.com the line is -150 favoring the champion, with a takeback of +110 on Judah. This is obviously preferable to most of the lines available on the internet, which have Spinks laying -160 or more. The best price on Judah thus far is +141 (bet $1 to win a profit of $1.41) at Pinnacle Sports, which offers a 'dime line' on lower-priced fights, meaning that the vigorish carved out by the bookmaker is just “ten cents.” These lines have a tendency to move, so I would check at Pinnacle before pounding on this number. Olympic Sports, which also puts up a lot of boxing, has Judah posted at +140, as does Diamond Sports International.
At Pinnacle, the price on the fight going over 11.5 rounds is -218, more advantageous than the -240 offered by the World Sports Exchange. 'Under' players can get +205 at Olympic Sports.
Heading up the Spinks-Judah undercard is a heavyweight encounter billed as a "WBC heavyweight title eliminator" between Monte Barrett and undefeated Owen Beck. Both are promoted by Don King, and here, Barrett poses a difficult road block for King’s undefeated prospect. The 33-year-old New Yorker, who hit the deck five times in a WBO title fight against Wladimir Klitschko in July 2000, has recently gone through the best stretch of his career, scoring wins over once-beaten Eric Kirkland and previously-undefeated Dominick Guinn, and coming very close to victory against Joe Mesi, in a fight many thought he let slip through his hands.
Beck (24-0, 18 KOs) was tested early in his career against the fairly capable Taurus Sykes, but has faced no live opposition aside from that. In fact, his toughest battles seem to have taken place outside the ring. Before he moved to the U.S. from his native Jamaica, Beck was shot accidentally in the leg by a friend, and was told he'd never fight again. Then, over the Thanksgiving holiday, he got into a horrific crash that left his car totaled, yet miraculously he walked away clean.
That Beck hasn't faced anyone in Barrett's class is a factor here, but it need not be the only factor. Every legitimate contender has that moment where he has to answer questions by moving up in class. Some pull it off; some don't. As far as Beck is concerned, it will mostly be a matter of whether he has the raw talent to do so, and the nerve to handle this kind of pressure without rattling. The people I've talked to who have seen Beck like his tools. If he turns out to be the real thing, it's a deft strategic move by King, as Beck will have positioned himself for a title shot by beating one fringe contender. And then the more serious question will be raised: how much will the lack of experience will handicap him against the likes of Vitali Klitschko?
Oddsmakers favor Barrett. He's -250 at Intertops (bet $2.50 to win a profit of a dollar), but if you're hot on the veteran, you'll like the -184 price at Pinnacle. Beck fetches +170 at both Sportsbook.com and Olympic Sports. I've seen a couple of over/under prices, using different parameters - at Pinnacle, the number is 9.5 rounds, with -173 on the “over” and coming back with +163 on the “under”; Olympic has the total posted at 11.5 rounds (it's a 12-round fight), with -115 on the “over” and -105 on the “under.”
Looking ahead to some fights in the near future, Bernard Hopkins is still a decisive favorite to win his February 19 middleweight title fight against Britain's Howard Eastman. Hopkins backers may find him a bargain at -521 at the Pinnacle site, while the best price we were able to find thus far was +500 at World Sports Exchange. Hopkins is a high of -833 at Intertops, where the takeback of +400 (4/1) on Eastman doesn't really offer much of a proposition. That's the biggest bookmakers' "spread" by far. There is also over/under wagering available on the fight, on a limited basis. The total at World Sports Exchange is 11.5 rounds, with the “over” favored by -240/+190. Pinnacle lists the prop at -239 for the “over” and +219 as the takeback on the “under”. I would expect more round props to be put up as the fight gets closer.
The numbers continue to be tight on the highly-anticipated March 19 junior lightweight showdown between Manny Pacquiao and Erik Morales. This is one of those unusual occasions where both fighters get the favorite's nod, depending on which sportsbook's odds you're looking at. Morales, for example, is favored at Intertops (-125, to a +111 takeback on the Pac Man) and Ladbrokes, where he's -137 as opposed to even money on Pacquiao. But Manny is slightly favored at World Sports Exchange, where you would have to lay -120 on him and -110 on Morales, and Canbet, where he is -115 to Morales' -111. William Hill has the fight as a pick 'em, posting -120 both ways. Sportsbook.com has the same dynamic, except you'd have to lay -115 with either guy.
If you're reading this on Friday, cable network action has made it to the board in some places. At Foxwoods tonight on Showtime, David Diaz is a -400/+300 favorite over Kendall Holt in their junior welterweight fight, according to Sportsbook.com. Diaz, a member of the 1996 U.S. Olympic team, perhaps holds the record for the slowest developing undefeated career. Now 26-0 and with wins over Ener Julio and Emanuel Augustus under his belt, he may be finally ready to make a move. Holt (17-1, 11 KOs) was considered a prospect coming out of the amateurs, but was knocked out in one round in his only pro loss and has yet to pass any big tests. Lou Duva refers to Holt as the second coming of Meldrick Taylor, but he hasn't come yet. Diamond Sports International also has a line on this fight, with Diaz a -425/+325 choice.
Another Diaz – Oscar - a junior welter from San Antonio, is on the show, facing Al Gonzalez of Chicago. Each has just one pro loss. Gonzalez is -200 at Sportsbook.com, with a takeback of +160 on Diaz, while Diamond has the line lower, with Gonzalez a -160/+130 favorite.
In Miami, Edner Cherry, a Bahamian lightweight riding a 13-fight winning streak, faces veteran Ricky Quiles in the ESPN feature. The 34-year-old Quiles, a southpaw, seems to have been around forever, but keeps scoring enough wins over middle-of-the-road fighters to get these kinds of opportunities. Fourteen months ago, he beat former WBA featherweight champ Eloy Rojas and followed that with a win over Luis Villalta. He'll be a dog in this one - at Diamond, Cherry is -220 with Quiles at +180. Sportsbook.com posted Cherry as a -180/+150 proposition, and they've also put up a number on the undercard fights between cruiserweights Dale Brown and Shelby Gross. Brown is a legitimate contender whose only losses have come in title fights against Jean-Marc Mormeck, Wayne Braithwaite and Vassily Jirov, while Gross (15-1) is best known for being a witness who helped convict matchmaker Bobby Mitchell on a fight-fixing charge last year. His lone defeat was a one-round TKO to Antonio Tarver. Accordingly, Brown is a heavy favorite - you'd have to lay -2500 on him at Sportsbook.com, with Gross fetching +1500 (15/1) should he pull an upset victory.
All information is presented for entertainment purposes only. Odds posted were current as of 7 AM Eastern time on February 4. Odds naturally are subject to change, so check first with each individual sportsbook
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