Boxing fans got a gift of sorts, essentially getting upgraded from coach to first class, when Sergio Mora begged off, and said he wouldn’t fight Jermain Taylor in Memphis. Cory Spinks stepped up, and stepped in for Mora, so fight fans will see the former welterweight, and current IBF junior middleweight titlist, step up to the 160 pound class, and take on the class of the division, Taylor, on May 19.

A conference call to put forth some of the particulars for the bout, which will be held on Taylor’s home turf, at the Fed Ex Forum in Memphis, took place on Wednesday afternoon. It was basically a semi love-in, as Taylor (26-0-1, 17 KOs) and Spinks (36-3, 11 KOs) have been acquainted with each other for years, and enjoy a similar mode of operation in the trash talking department. Spinks and Taylor were joined by lead promoter Lou Dibella, Spinks’ promoter Don King, and Spinks manager/trainer, Kevin Cunningham. King did his best to stir the pot. “We’re going to be kind to Taylor as he was to us, and we’ll give him the opportunity to win his title back,” said King, who was referred in deferential fashion by Dibella. Spinks isn’t a motormouth type. But he did come off as a bit more of a wordsmith than I had imagined him to be when he said, “We’re going to go and do what we do best, go in and gladiate.” I will have to incorporate “gladiate” in verb form ASAP… Dibella delivered a bitchslap to some middleweights who he says turned down a shot to take the 28-year-old Taylor down.

According to Dibella, IBF champ Arthur Abraham, WBA titlist Javier Castillejo, No. 2 WBA Felix Sturm, and Contender alum Mora (No. 7 WBC), who was scornfully referred to as “Pretender” instead of “Contender” by King, all blew off a chance to score the WBC and WBO middleweight crowns held by Taylor. Spinks, the 29-year-old southpaw, explained his move to a higher weight class. “No one out there wants to fight me,” he said. “Taylor’s the best middleweight but no one scares me. I want to be the best I can be and make history.” Dibella also tossed some timber on the fire for a future potential showdown, when he asked, “What has Edison Miranda ever done? If he stepped up to the echelon of world fighters, I think he’d get smacked around.” Expect return fire from Miranda by Thursday’s close… HBO will televise Taylor/Spinks, and tickets go on sale on April 4th. They range from $550 down to $25, for students, seniors and active military.

Call or log on to Ticketmaster, or call 901-525-1515 to grab a seat.

SPEEDBAG Some sad news; Manny Steward’s younger brother James Steward died on March 24. He was 53, and battled cancer. Steward is grieving the loss, it was stated on the call, and wasn’t taking part for that reason. TSS sends condolences to Manny and the rest of his family on the loss.