MICHAEL SPINKS is categorized with Billy Conn, Archie Moore and Bob Foster as the four greatest light heavyweight champions in boxing history. But where Foster and Moore failed, Spinks succeeded as a heavyweight.
Spinks became the first light heavyweight king to move up and win the heavyweight title when he decisioned IBF champion Larry Holmes in 1985.
Spinks captured a gold medal at the 1976 Olympics and turned pro the following year. After just seven fights, Spinks had already won eight-round decisions over tough veterans Gary Summerhayes and Tom Bethea.
Spinks main weapon was a lethal right hand that was dubbed, "The Spinks Jinx." But he was also an awkward fighter, delivering punches from various angles. Few could figure out his style as moved close to a title shot. Along the way he decisioned future super middleweight champ Murray Sutherland and stopped Ramon Ranquello, Yaqui Lopez, and Willie Taylor, rugged veterans who spent much of their ring careers in or around the division's top 10.
In 1981, Spinks stopped former champ Marvin Johnson in March and then won the WBA title four months later by decisioning champ Eddie Mustafa Muhammad.
In 1983, he met WBC champion Dwight Braxton in a unification fight. Spinks decisioned Braxton to become the undisputed champion and made three more title defenses before bypassing the cruiserweight division and moving to heavyweight.
Holmes was 48-0 at the time of the Spinks fight, one win away from tying Rocky Marciano's record. Although Holmes held a 22-pound weight advantage, Spinks outhustled him and scored a close unanimous decision win. In a rematch seven months later, Spinks beat Holmes again on a split decision.
Spinks defended the heavyweight title with a fourth-round knockout of Stefan Tangstad in 1986 but was stripped of his IBF crown five months later. He knocked out Gerry Cooney in June of 1987 and declared himself the People's heavyweight champion.
That paved the way for a showdown against unbeaten and undisputed heavyweight king Mike Tyson. The fight lasted just 91, with Tyson scoring a knockout and erasing all doubt as to who was the heavyweight champion. Spinks retired after the fight.