How many times have I watched a Cory Spinks fight, and promised myself afterwards, Nevermore? Nevermore will I spend the hour watching this man who has some talent inflict his boring brand of boxing on me, I’d say to myself. But being a man with a vein of optimism nestled deep within me, I always come back for more, hoping that this time, Spinks gets it, that he comprehends that his window of opportunity will soon slam down on his fingers. I end up giving Spinks a chance, hoping that this generation’s version of the Spinks jinx will end, and the son of Leon will deliver on his promise.

With a head full of delus…er, optimism, I once again devoted a block of time to check out Spinks, who gloved up against Deandre Latimore, a fellow St. Louis native, in the ShoBox main event from the Scottrade Center in St. Louis on Friday night. And gosh darn it, if my optimism didn’t pay off. Spinks gave a decent account of himself, in a reasonably entertaining, if sloppy bout. He sweated out a decision, after being knocked down in the first and putting up with the spirited run by Lattimore, who idolized Spinks as a teen. The judges saw it 115-112 (Spinks), 115-112 (Latimore) and 114-113 (Spinks), sending Spinks off with a split decision victory.

Latimore said after that he was a little upset, because he scored that knockdown, and the rounds were close. The vet Spinks smiled after, and admitted he was rusty. “I’m proud of myself,” he said. He said he tripped in the first round, and wasn’t hurt.

The vacant IBF junior middleweight crown was up for grabs. Spinks (36-5, with just 11 KOs; age 31; 152 ¾; rated No. 8 contender; fought just twice in the last two years), a four time world champion, heard a rain of boos as he walked to the ring. Latimore (19-1, with 16 KOs; 153 ½ pounds; age 23; rated No. 7 contender) had the house on his side, as the heavy underdog looking to hop up a few rungs on the ladder.

The report of his demise was exaggerated, apparently–Don King was the lead promoter of the event.

In round one, Latimore drove Spinks back with a combo, and the crowd pulsed. The two lefties engaged hard, and Latimore scored a knockdown with 1:30 to go. The straight left, timed well, did the damage. Could he finish? Was Spinks finished? Spinks popped the jab, and moved more. But his hands looked slow, and he wasn’t slipping well. In the second, Latimore kept winging wide shots. Spinks was more warmed up, and was more fiery, but his defense was porous, and his chin was too high.

In the third, a lot of shots from both missed. It looked like Spinks’ legs weren’t in peak form tonight. In the fourth, both were clinching more by the close. In round five, Spinks’ hands were low, and there was a cut over his left eye. The hungry kid kept humming, and hurling. Cory ducked and slipped shots pretty well, though. In the sixth, there was pushing, holding and mauling in close quarters. Spinks had figured the kid out by now, and with Lat slowing, he slipped more and more tosses.

In the seventh, Lat banged two right hooks that hit clean early. He went to the body enough to bother Spinks, as well. But he looked to be running low on petrol by the close. In the eighth, Spinks had begun moving forward. A clubbing right had the crowd impressed. The worm had turned, people. In the ninth, Spinks was the far fresher man. His experience showed, big time. Latimore’s left eye was no great shakes here either. In the tenth, Spinks was just plain busier, but then started clinching, and then Latimore banged home a left with 15 seconds to go. In the 11th, Lat caught Spinks with a left. Then Spinks hit with a showy long left. Cory’s eye dripped blood, as Lat strafed him on the ropes. Both men deserved props for gutting it out late. In the 12th, a right cross ent Lat down. But no, it was ruled a slip. They both leaned on each other, as they gulped for air, and traded sloppy but well intentioned punches. The judges would speak loudest.

Don King yelled, “Get ready Floyd Mayweather,” after Spinks got the nod. We know DK has been flirting with Money Mayweather, so perhaps that could come to fruition.

Devon Alexander, another St. Louis guy, got the W over Jesus Rodriguez, but he didn’t exactly bowl us over with his skills along the way. Devon went to 17-0, while Jesus, who stayed calm and slipped well early on, went to 19-3.