It would've been nice if Don King had shown a new millenium Thrilla in Manilla for his inaugural webcast on his website, but the main event between Cory Spinks and Verno Phillips gave web-viewers some decent action, and a surprise ending, as Phillips got the nod after twelve rounds at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri on Thursday evening.
The judges saw it 115-113 (Phillips), 115-113 (Spinks) and 116-112 (Phillips), and the veteran Phillips exulted in earnest when he had his hand raised in Spinks' hometurf, his state of residence, Missouri. Give a round of applause to the judges, for not sticking to the typical script, and rewarding the workmanlike Phillips, whose edge in power (he owns 21 KOs to Spinks' 11) swayed the arbiters to award a split decision.
Spinks didn't go ballistic at the decision. “I felt good, just a little rusty that’s all,” he said. “Verno fought a good fight. He came in to do a job, but I feel I did what I came to do. I am upset with myself. I let myself down.”
Phillips gave the lowdown on his effort afterwards. “I hit more with my left,” he said. “They told me not to reach in. He is hard to adapt to. He is sneaky. You lean in, he will hit you with a one-two. I just relied on my experience. I did my best and I am still in the top 10. I had harder shots. I felt like his people were booing him because they felt he didn’t bring it.”
Spinks kept up his intensity in the last two rounds, as he was careful not to make a foolish mistake, and hand over a presumably large edge to Phillips. With a minute to go, Spinks stood and traded some, so you have to give the man some credit, for not simply running to preserve the win. Or what he thought was a win.
Spinks kept pawing with a weak jab, and loading up on rights into the middle rounds, as Phillips landed the occasional left hook to the head that would have shook the champion, if Phillips had more oomph on his blows. In the ninth, the crowd got a kick out of some fierce trench action, and it was Phillips who got the better of it. He scored with a right hookercut and hooks from both sides. If he had heavier hands, Cory would have been in deep doo-doo.
Spinks' movement was too smart for Phillips through the first four rounds, though Verno did manage to land a lead right or two to remind Spinks that he better keep his feet going, or risk getting tagged.
I covered the fight from watching it on Donkingnetwork.tv, King's website. I downloaded a player on my iBook G4, in about a minute, and had the card playing live right after. Was the quality high def, or even what I see on my six year old Sharp non-plasma, non LCD old school special? No. But could this mean good things for fight fans? Yes. But how often could King do this without monetizing the experience, without major sponsors, or some other means of defraying costs? He said he will continue to offer fights on the web, and I'm all for it.
Spinks, 30, came in with a 36-4 mark, while Phillips, age 38, entered the arena with a 41-11-1 record. His IBF junior middleweight title was up for grabs. Phillips had held that belt in 2004, when he beat Carlos Bojorquez for the strap, but dropped it to Kassim Ouma four months later. Spinks held the same title in 2006, earning it when he beat Roman Karmazin, and he defended it once, against Rodney Jones, in Feb. 2007. Both men weighed in at 153. Gerald Scott was the ref.
Devon Alexander (15-0) beat Miguel Callist (24-7) in a junior welterweight warmup scrap. The twelve round bout was all Alexander, and the judges saw it 120-105, 120-106, 120-106. He scored a knockdown with a three punch combo in the final round, as he looked to cap the showing with a stoppage. But Callist was on his backwards unicycle, looking to finish the fight.