TICK … TICK … TICK … : Good news, boxing fans. The countdown to Spinks-Judah II on SHOWTIME is down to five. This Saturday on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING (9 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on West Coast), World Boxing Association/World Boxing Council/International Boxing Federation (WBA/WBC/IBF) Welterweight Champion Cory “The Next Generation” Spinks and Zab “Super” Judah will collide again, this time in St. Louis, the hometown of the champion.

The son of Leon and nephew of Michael, Spinks (34-2, 11 KOs) won the first match between the two talented, major league southpaws when he recorded a close, unanimous 12-round decision over Judah (32-2, 23 KOs) on April 10, 2004, in Las Vegas.

A REPEAT IN REMATCH?: “Absolutely, I am going to win again,” Spinks said. “I am going to put on the best performance of my life, I guarantee you that. I am prepared and very focused.’’

Spinks does not feel any pressure fighting in front of what figures to be a sellout of 20,000-plus at the Savvis Center and millions more on SHOWTIME. As of Monday afternoon, Alan Hopper of Don King Productions reports that approximately 18,000 seats have been sold.

“I am going into this fight like I go into any other fight – clearheaded and ready to handle business,” he said. “It is in my hometown, so I will have more energy because it is there, but I will not let that get to me because I am a smart fighter. I have been doing this all my life. I know what it takes.’’

At noon Wednesday, Spinks will return to his alma mater, Beaumont High, to attend an All-School Pep Rally in his honor in the gym. At 3 o’clock the same day, Spinks will participate in an Open Workout at Sheraton St. Louis Center (Thirteenth Floor – Salon F). The media is invited to both events.

“It will be neat going back to my old high school,” said Spinks, who arrives in St. Louis Tuesday night from Las Vegas where he has trained since just after Thanksgiving. “It will feel good to be back home. I never train in St. Louis, no matter how small or big the fight is. If I am going to prepare for a fight, especially one of this magnitude, I do not want to be around any distractions, or potential distractions. I know everybody means well, and this is by far the most adulation I have ever received. I really appreciate it. But I cannot afford to take any chances. There is so much on the line. I see this fight as life and death.’’

A “SUPER’’ SATURDAY FOR “SUPER’’ ZAB?: “They are playing a football game Sunday, but this is my Championship Game,” said Judah, a former two-time 140-pound world champion who arrived in St. Louis Saturday night and did his Open Media Workout Monday. “I spent five weeks working in Florida and I have never trained harder. I have never been more serious for a fight in my life. Opportunities like this only present themselves once or twice in a boxer’s career – if that – and I am going to take advantage.

“I really hope Cory comes to fight, and is not just there to run around the ring. If so, I will chase him down. I will do whatever it takes to win. I like Cory a lot as a person, but my whole thing is, I am here to take. I am going to his backyard because I am from Brooklyn. That is what we do. I am from the home of the taking state. I am going to finish him forever.’’

A HEAVY-DUTY RARITY ON SHOWTIME SATURDAY: The co-feature Saturday on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING offers something not often seen on television: Two heavyweights ranked in the top 10 in each of boxing’s four major governing bodies who actually are brave enough to fight each other.

The boxers, Monte “Two Gunz” Barrett and undefeated Owen “What The Heck” Beck, meet in a 12-round elimination bout.

The tough, rugged, never-say-die Barrett has a record of 30-3 with 16 KOs and is ranked No. 3 in the WBC, No. 4 in the WBO, No. 6 in the WBA and No. 7 in the IBF. Nicknamed “Two Gunz,” he has been going great guns of late, having won six of his past seven fights. The loss came on a disputed 10-round split decision to unbeaten Joe Mesi on Dec. 6, 2003. In his last outing, Barrett recorded a 10-round split decision over previously undefeated Dominick Guinn on March 27, 2004.

The talented, virtually untested Beck is 24-0 with 18 KOs and has knocked out his past four opponents within three rounds. The transplanted Jamaican has only been past the fifth round three times in his career. Only one of his past 17 starts dating back to May 2000 has gone the distance and that came when he took a lopsided 12-round decision over George Arias Sept. 20, 2003, to capture the FEDALATIN heavyweight title. In his last bout, Beck recorded a first-round TKO over Troy Weida on Sept. 4, 2004.

Said Barrett: “Beck is a good fighter, but he has not fought anyone like me. He has not fought any strong fighters like me. I have the speed and more experience. I have been here many times and am going into this fight not just hungry, but starving. Barrett will receive a lot of pain. I promise you that Beck will hit the deck.’’
Offered Beck: “I am ready for big fights, but all I can do is take on the guys they put in front of me. Barrett has more experience and he is the best fighter I have faced, but I do not think he is any big threat to my career. I have no doubt that I can pass the test. I have waited all my life to get an opportunity like this. I know I will make the best of it. People will be happy with what they see.”

PLUS: SUPER FRIDAY ON SHOWTIME: The night before Spinks-Judah II, “ShoBox: The New Generation” will feature four talented prizefighters with a combined 77-3-1 record who will square off in a pair of excellent 10-round junior welterweight bouts on SHOWTIME (11 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on West Coast). In the main event Friday from Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Conn., David Diaz (26-0, 14 KOs) meets Kendall Holt (17-1, 11 KOs). In the co-feature, Oscar Diaz (18-1, 11 KOs) meets Al Gonzales (16-1-1, 7 KOs).