Former unified welter and IBF 154 pound champ Cory Spinks clashed with local upstart Deandre Latimore in a battle of southpaws for the vacant IBF Light Middleweight title on a good Don King card in font of 9,000 fans at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, MO.
Latimore had parlayed an upset of Sechew Powell last June into the clash with Spinks and the hard-punching 23 year old made the most of his opportunity last night.
Spinks was canvassed when he walked into a right hook in the first frame but beat the count and saw out the round through his long big-fight experience.
Latimore found the quicksilver Spinks a difficult target to hit cleanly with more than a smattering of shots over the next few rounds while the former champion snuck in good counter shots to both head and body at times.
Spinks took over during the middle rounds, beating his crosstown rival to the punch both on the inside and outside.
Latimore regained some lost ground in the championship rounds but Spinks snuffed out that flame in the 12th and final session by outboxing the younger man.
When the scores were read, Spinks had regained the IBF Light Middleweight crown by split decision, taking two cards 115-112, 114-113 while Latimore won the third 115-112.
Spinks improves to 37-5 (11) but afterward acknowledged just how close a contest it was against his less experienced adversary, saying “I knew I had to perform in the last round and I did. I’m a master at this and I went out like a dog and got it".
A disappointed Latimore drops to 19-2 (16) and felt he had done enough to win the fight, saying, “I’m a little upset. I dropped him in the first round. That decision should have been mine".
On of the top light welter prospects in the globe, local man Devon Alexander, 18-0 (11), headed up the undercard by knocking out durable Californian Jesus Rodriguez, 19-4 (5), in the ninth round.
Fast-handed southpaw Alexander expressed confidence after the victory and made clear his intentions for the near future, saying, “I’m ready for anybody at 140 pounds. I can and will get better. I’m the WBC super lightweight mandatory challenger. Now I’m ready for my first world championship appearance.”
There were also a quartet of heavyweight bouts on the bill.
Former world title challenger DaVarryl Williamson, 25-5 (22), stopped Carl Davis, 14-3 (11), in the fifth, Bermane Stiverne, 17-1-1 (16), was held to a six round draw by Charles Davis, 17-17-2 (4), Mark de Mori, 15-1-2 (13), stopped Jason Barnett, 10-10 (4), in the seventh while Harvey Jolley, 9-10-1 (4), upset Evans Quinn, 18-3 (16), via sixth round split decision.
Veteran bantamweight Robert DaLuz, 12-17-2 (9), proved to be a spoiler, knocking off Moscow based Uzbek Kahramon Arzykulov, 15-3-1 (8).