Seventeen months after his ignominious defeat at the hands of Zab Judah, the redemption-seeking Cory Spinks found what he was looking for at the Savvis Center in his hometown of St. Louis, Missouri, and beat Roman Karmazin to win the IBF junior middleweight crown.

In a close-fought bout between boxer and puncher that could have gone either way, Spinks (34-3, 11 KOs) won a 12-round majority decision over Karmazin (34-2-1, 21 KOs) with scores of 115-113, 115-113 and114-114.

In a fight totally devoid of infighting, the first half of the fight was all Cory Spinks, 28, who used his superior hand and foot speed and boxing ability to pile up points. Although he never seriously hurt Karmazin, he dominated the native of St. Petersburg, Russia, through the first 6 rounds.

Roman Karmazin, 33, found the range and dominated the second half of the fight as almost as thoroughly as Spinks dominated the first, and got in his best shot of the night, a solid right cross, at the end of the 10th. But by the time the bell rang to start the 12th and final round, neither fighter nor anyone in the crowd was certain who was ahead, that’s how close it was, which made for an interesting if not exactly scintillating match.

The victorious Spinks had not fought since he lost his welterweight titles to the “real” Judah on February 5 of last year, and the months of soul-searching, domestic strife, and ultimate weight gain helped, as Cory said it would, rather than hurt, The Next Generation’s chances against Karmazin and for the future.

After the fight, a jubilant Cory Spinks told Showtime’s Jim Gray, “Nobody believed in me, man, but I knew I could do it.”

A lot of other people now know he could do it as well.