By Robert Brizel, Head Real Combat Media Boxing Correspondent
Hall of Fame Photo by Tom Patti
Michael Spinks, then 30-0 with 21 knockouts, Saint Louis, Missouri, had kneepads on both knees when he fought 34-0 Iron Mike Tyson on June 27, 1988. The televised bout lasted 91 seconds,, and featured two knockouts with a ten count knockout. The WBA, WBC and IBF World Heavyweight titles were at stake in this unification bout. Spinks had been inactive for a year coming in, after stopping Gerry Cooney. Both of Spinks last two bouts took place in the Atlantic City Convention Center.
Michael’s major mistake, depending on how you look at it, was trying to brawl inside with Tyson, or just taking one more bout with injured knees for the big payday.
30 years later, when they met at the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, New York, animosity and conflict were replaced by friendship and comradery. Long after the fact, it was all good hype and good television at the time. Worse fighters went the distance with Tyson, including Mitch ‘Blood’ Green, James Tillis, James ‘Bonecrusher’ Smith, and Donavan ‘Razor’ Ruddock. Michael Spinks opted not to run. After Tyson subsequently left boxing, Spinks could have come back and refused many offers to do so.
So when Spinks and Tyson met 30 years later over dinner and talk, the years must have seen like they had wings. Neither fighter had any regrets. When it was all over, Michael Spinks and Mike Tyson were the two Michaels, with different personalities, but infused with a love of the boxing game. Like Michael Moorer (the third Michael) against Evander Holyfield, Michael Spinks was an overblown light heavyweight who bypassed the cruiserweight division in search of heavyweight gold and glory against Larry Holmes.
Different matchups yield different results. Unlike the Frank Sinatra song ‘Let Me Try again’, Michael Spinks never returned to the ring. Perhaps the many losses of his faded brother ‘Neon’ Leon Spinks, also a former heavyweight champion, persuaded Michael Spinks to go the Rocky Marciano road and hang up his gloves for good when he reached the point when he did not feel he wanted to continue, which has happened to many fighters from Marvelous Marvin Hagler to Joe Louis. When it’s over, it’s really over.