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21 NOVEMBER 2018


Team Latimore Speaks Out On Spinks Defeat

By Derek Bonnett: The Battle of St. Louis, won by Cory Spinks on April 24, had more to do with the defeated fighter doing less than the victor doing more. Spinks walked away with his second IBF junior middleweight championship after the split decision was announced at the Scottrade Center, but in the long run, the experience gained by Deandre Latimore, 19-2 (16), could prove to be far more valuable than the alphabet trinket.

Neither man looked spectacular, but rounds in the bag are what count most and, by the time the final bell rang, Spinks’ greater experience seemed enough to nab a few close rounds. In the opening minutes, Latimore appeared to be well on his way to his first championship after dropping Spinks, but he did not turn into "The Bull" many expected him to. By the fourth round, the younger contender seemed to give up the momentum to his older rival.

The loss should not be the type to keep Latimore out of the ring for long. It was a close fight, he didn’t get the decision, and the sooner he accepts that and moves forward the better fighter he will become. Already coming into the Spinks fight after a long layoff, Team Latimore needs to keep busy and hope that other contenders feel Latimore is less than he truly is.

Moving on is easy for a writer to suggest, for he lost nothing. The fighter and his team must digest the experience and that can take some time. Losing is one thing, but losing when you know you could have won is another.

Latimore’s manager Jerry Giuliano was gracious enough to take time to speak with SecondsOut and share his thoughts about the fight.

"From my vantage point I felt Deandre won the fight," Giuliano stated. "He hit Spinks with way more power shots, knocked him down, and rocked him several times. I felt Deandre kept the pressure up for most of the fight. It amazes me that one judge had the scores exactly reversed and we wound up losing by one point. I expected a draw at worst. I guess when you fight against certain promoters a knockout is a must when going for a title."

Spinks was fighting to regain the title, which he lost in March 2008 to Verno Phillips, and had gone the twelve round distance eleven times before meeting Latimore. Latimore had only gone the ten round distance once in his entire career. That vast edge in experience aided Spinks and perhaps allowed him to fight more confidently than Latimore, who seemed to be more reserved. Thoughts about the later rounds could have had him fighting more within himself.

"I actually expected Cory to run like he always does and he did the opposite. I thought he fought a courageous fight," Giuliano recognized. "Deandre has proven that he is truly a force to deal with in the future. Cory was a four time champion and I believe we saw him at his best and almost knocked him out in the first round. Deandre is twenty-three and has a great future ahead of him. We will take away many positive things from this fight and build on them."

The junior middleweight division is once again among one of boxing’s emerging weight classes with some excellent talent on the rise to challenge the more proven talent at the top. With James Kirkland’s legal troubles yet unresolved, there is the potential for another young contender to rise and take his place among the top contenders in the division. Vanes Martirosyan, Alfredo Angulo, and Yuri Foreman are likely possibilities, but Latimore cannot be written off based on this defeat.

"We will go back to the gym and work on the things we need to make him a more complete and dangerous fighter going forward," Giuliano said of Latimore’s future. "The exposure was great for him as boxing now knows who Deandre Latimore is. We will have a few strategic fights and then look for a big stage again. We are now under contract with DiBella and Rumble Time in a co-promotional deal. We will all get together and plan our future fighting course together."

In regards to the Kirkland situation, Giuliano had this to say:

"We were actually looking forward to a fight with James Kirkland in the future. It is very hard for me to understand how a young man with such a bright future could put himself in a bad situation like he has. It is hard to tell if having different people around him would have mattered that much. In life we must all take full responsibility for our own actions. The last thing this sport needed was for this to happen to a bright star like James."

One of the unfortunate losses for boxing will not be Kirkland’s tune-up bout on the Pacquiao-Hatton undercard, but the late summer world title bout he was scheduled for against unbeaten WBO champion Sergiy Dzinziruk, which would have given American fans a chance to see the Ukrainian fighter first hand. But what is one fighter’s loss could turn into a golden opportunity for another.

" With Kirkland out I would love to see Cory step in and fight Sergiy Dzinziruk with us fighting the winner," Giuliano speculated. "At this point, however, it is obvious to me that Cory wants no part of Deandre Latimore in the future. I am sure he is now feeling some of the after effects of his power."

So, while Latimore rebuilds, what can the boxing world expect from the seasoned three two division world champion? Well, along with the young studs of the division, there is still Vernon Forrest, who is pretty much at the same stage of his career as Cory. The often overlooked Daniel Santos still reigns quietly. Paul Williams still resides at every division from super middleweight to welterweight.

"Cory is a smart experienced champion. He could hold the belt for a while unless they decide to fight Deandre again," Giuliano stated. "Kevin Cunningham came in our dressing room after the fight and I asked him for a rematch and he said he didn’t want to fight us in the first place. Given another opportunity against him we would put him away the next time out. There are some really talented fighters in the division going forward so Cory’s handlers better choose his fights wisely."

Whatever Latimore and Spinks do next, the boxing world will take note. Spinks is just one of the many ageless veterans of the last year to outfox a young pup. Latimore could go on to join the throng of young fighters who came up short in their first world championship bouts only to comeback far wiser for their second turn.

April 29, 2009

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