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Braxton's best round was the eighth, which he won on all cards. It was also the oddest round of the night. Spinks went down three times, but referee Larry Hazzard ruled only the second descent a knockdown. "The first time Michael went down, it was a slip," says Hazzard. "He was off balance and did not get hit. The second time was from a punch in the stomach. As he was going down, it appeared as though Dwight sort of stepped on his foot. The third was a slip."
No damage was done to Spinks, but Braxton seemed to gain strength. He pursued Spinks, landing two good rights and an uppercut, and then Spinks appeared to tire as he began pushing out his jabs. "Make that jab sharper," Futch told him in the corner after the eighth. "You're laying it out there. You can't do that with this guy." And when the action resumed, Spinks's harder jab was back.
A touch of comic relief was provided by Leon Spinks, who wore a big cowboy hat askew as he urged his brother on between rounds. "Double jab, then the right!" Leon yelled at one point. Glancing over, Michael shouted back, "Leon, straighten out your hat!" Leon grabbed the brim. "Oh, yeah," he said, adjusting it.
Braxton would occasionally put together a flurry of punches, but he couldn't sustain an attack with Spinks jabbing, hooking and moving on him. "I didn't press the issue like I should have," Braxton said.
The fight produced no more in the way of injury than a backyard scuffle among school kids. Braxton had a minor nosebleed, starting in the eighth, but no fighter was ever really in trouble. "Dwight hit me good a couple of times, but I didn't get dazed up at all," Spinks said. "I kept jabbing and moving."
Which is what prompted Braxton to say that Spinks had "a lot of dog in him." Told of the remark by a reporter, Spinks thought at first that Braxton was complimenting him. "I thought he meant I dogged him," Spinks said. No, no. Braxton meant he was running scared. Spinks shrugged. "It doesn't pay to be a gutsy fighter in a fight like that," he said. "You wind up with cuts everywhere. You wind up getting knocked down. You work harder than you really have to."
It was a good fight, but not the great one that the crowd of 9,000 and the HBO television audience had expected. It lacked the dramatic shifts and turns of epic matches, and it hardly did for the light heavyweight division what it was ballyhooed to do—lead it from the shadows to the showcase. All it really did, for now, was demonstrate that Michael Spinks is indeed the boss.