After super-middleweight Jesse Brinkley, made famous from “The Contender” series, dominated undefeated Joey Spina for 10½ rounds, it all came to a sudden end from a single body shot. I watched in horror as a feeling of severe nausea and total disgust stirred within me.
Here’s how it went down at Foxwoods last night on ESPN’s “Wednesday Night Fights.”
Round one began with the two fighters exchanging jabs. Spina landed the first big punch of the fight with a crisp left hook. Brinkley recovered quickly and began to establish a short, hard jab. Spina attacked with some good body shots but Brinkley came right back with some body work of his own. Brinkley then landed a nice hook and a sweet uppercut. After a few jabs by Spina, Brinkley came right back again with a sweet right and a hard hook. Brinkley’s round.
The second opened up with a series of jabs by Brinkley followed by a flush right hand. Brinkley continued to pace himself and take his time, picking and choosing his shots. Brinkley landed a nice hook followed by a blistering right hand which gave Spina a bloody nose to end the round.
The third round started with a stunning 1-2 by Brinkley followed by a brutal left hook. Brinkley continued to slip the wide punches by Spina as he countered with some hard straight rights. Brinkley continued the onslaught with some nice body work followed by an uppercut flush to the chin of Spina. Brinkley closed the round with some clean, crisp combos as Spina continued to throw wide and wild.
Round four opened identical to the previous stanza, a 1-2 by Brinkley followed by a hard left hook. Brinkley then landed a blistering right cross backed by a crisp uppercut. Spina came back with some nice body work, only to be negated by a Brinkley uppercut and a clean straight right. Round four, as well as the fight, all Brinkley.
The fifth began with a nice hook by Brinkley, followed by a hard shotgun jab. Brinkley pressed on with his assault, landing a sweet combination. After some wild punches by Spina missed Brinkley by a mile, Brinkley landed a strong hook and a brutal uppercut. Brinkley closed out another shut out round with some hard counter shots, and two thunderous uppercuts to top it off.
Round six opened with something different: jabs by Spina this time. However, that was only temporary as Brinkley answered back quickly with some great combinations in the pocket. Brinkley once again began to establish his jab, setting up some beautiful left hooks, preceded by some blistering combos. A brutal left hook stunned Spina, yet he showed the heart of a true champion and battled back, throwing a grazing right hand which opened a nasty cut over the eye of Brinley.
Round seven was more of the same, nice jabs by Brinkley, followed by a sweet right hand. Time was called as the doctors wanted to look at the cut over Brinkley’s eye. After everything was cleared and time started again, Brinkley landed a right hand immediately, followed by a perfectly placed uppercut. Spina began to show he was in trouble and knew not what to do as he leaned on Brinkley, throwing some weak patty-cake combos to the body. The round closed with a great uppercut by Brinkley at the bell.
Round eight actually kept me interested in the fight. Everything appeared to be the same as Brinkley landed a pair of crushing uppercuts, followed by a hard hook. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, Spina landed a brutal hook, then two thunderous right hands in a row, followed by a hook, a straight right, and another hard hook. Round eight, finally a round for Spina.
Round nine went back to normal. Nice body work by Brinkley followed by a pair of hard left hooks. Brinkley again began establishing his jab, setting up some beautiful combinations. Spina continued to throw punches from Iceland, Korea, The North Pole, Mars, and Pluto… while Brinkley continued to slip them all, landing a hard counter uppercut and left hook.
The tenth was all Brinkley again. He started off the round with his fast, crisp jab, setting up a couple of powerful rights. The attack continued with some nice combos, followed by a series of 1-2’s. Time was once again called for the doctors to look at the cut. All was well and the action resumed with a powerful hook by Brinkley followed by some great body shots. Brinkley closed the round with a hard uppercut smack on the chin of Spina.
This is where I wanted to throw up.
The eleventh started off in the norm. Brinkley was landing some nice jabs, hanging back as he knew he had the fight in the bag. Spina continued to be Spina, throwing ridiculously wild shots that even a 70-year-old, Parkinson’s plagued Muhammad Ali could have slipped. However, Brinkley decided to show he wasn’t going to hang back and tried to be a crowd-pleaser, coming in hard, landing a nice uppercut.
Then it happened… a single hook by Spina to the body (yes this was actually to the body, in case anyone reading is still in Mayweather-Judah land) hurt Brinkley. Spina pounced on him like a shark smelling blood. A devastating combo to the body then sent Brinkley to the floor.
Brinkley spit out his mouth piece in Diego Corrales fashion, and bought himself some time to recover.
After one more combo, topped with a left hook, the ref called the fight.
Although Brinkley may have been in trouble, I don’t believe it was enough to stop the fight. For a second the thought occurred to me that Spina was fighting in his backyard, Rhode Island, and the premature stoppage may have been intentional.
Then I thought, “No way. How could something so corrupt ever take place in my beloved sport of boxing? Surely corruption is not and option for such prestigious men as Don King, or those wonderful gentlemen who run ‘The Contender’.”
So now Joey Spina improves to 18-0-1 (13 KO’s), while Brinkley, 26-4 (17 KO’s), proved that his heart, as well as his midsection are made of glass. He should probably stick to what he’s good at, whatever that may be. It certainly isn’t pugilism or a career in TV.