Spinks joined the fight in the sixth, and won the round, thanks in part to a pawing jab he habitually threw off his front foot, the only one on the floor, as he was falling back. At times his body seemed to be going at once forward and backward. "You can hit him once," Holmes said afterward, "but it's impossible to hit him a second time."
That fact saved Spinks in the 14th. In the last minute of the round, Holmes staggered the champion with a solid right to the head. Spinks, with his arms dangling and his eyes staring out into the crowd, staggered away. "I was in limbo," Spinks said later. "He stunned me. My mind said, 'You've been in the same place too long. You're dazed. Get out of there.' And I got."
By the time Holmes caught up with him, Spinks was recovering, and at the bell he was fighting back. Again in the last round the champion was tagged hard, but not until the final 15 seconds, which was too late for Holmes.
Then came the decision. Not everyone agreed with it.