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A Crowning Achievement
William Nack
March 28, 1983
Michael Spinks reigns over all the light heavies after defeating Dwight Braxton
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March 28, 1983

A Crowning Achievement

Michael Spinks reigns over all the light heavies after defeating Dwight Braxton

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But Spinks did just that. He knew exactly what he was going to do from the opening bell and for as long as he could. Futch and Spinks and Spinks's regular trainer, Nelson Brison, had devised a strategy weeks before. It was all the veteran Futch's idea—and a simple one at that. He'd used it successfully years before, in December 1958, when his fighter, Don Jordan, beat hard-hitting Virgil Akens for the world welterweight title.

According to Futch, the plan had three parts:

1) "Jab and move to the right and throw left hooks.... When he starts to corner you, you cut back left. Then go right again."

2) "Stay off the ropes and out of the corners. This is where Braxton is the most effective. If he can stop you along the ropes or in the corners, he can put good combinations together. He throws punches in bunches in there."

3) "Don't throw right-hand leads, even if he tempts you by dropping his left. That's the best thing that Braxton does, rolls that left shoulder and catches the other fighter's right with it and counters with a right."

Spinks followed the Futch plan closely enough. Moving to the right, he nullified Braxton's right cross; moving left, he took away Braxton's straight right hand. Almost never did Spinks give Braxton a target. Spinks jabbed and jabbed and jabbed again, round after round, keeping the swarmer from swarming. Spinks had gotten to know a lot about Braxton's tendencies when he was a Spinks sparring partner in 1980, and Spinks was confident that Futch's plan, with Spinks adding a wrinkle here and there, would work.

"It was just right," Spinks said Saturday night. "I knew it was perfect for Braxton's style. I knew that as long as I moved left as well as right, there was nothing he could do. Once, when I was sparring with him, I shut him out for eight rounds—jab, jab, move!"

Spinks won six of the first seven rounds on all cards by doing just that. "I wanted to be like that guy on the TV program, Elliott Ness. Untouchable," he said. "When he tried to swarm me, I was catching him with jabs and hooks. My left hand is awfully sore now, but I was going to work it till it fell off. I beat him with one hand."

Whether he was cautious of coming in on Spinks's right or sapped by the cold, Braxton lacked the fire that had been his hallmark. "The cold cleared up, but it didn't go away," he says. "I felt weary. I had a couple of spurts but no fire. My arms felt weary. I was tired, not like 'I can't go anymore,' but I had a drained feeling. He didn't beat me. It really wasn't me. I wanted him to mix it up with me, but he just didn't. He really ran like a chicken. It was like he had a lot of dog in him."

What Spinks had in him, says Futch, was a plan that he understood thoroughly and executed well.

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