Larry Holmes vs. Leon Spinks

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Holmes lands a left jab against Spinks.

1981-06-12 : Larry Holmes 212½ lbs beat Leon Spinks 200¼ lbs by TKO at 2:34 in round 3 of 15


  • Holmes was a 4 to 1 favorite.
  • Only about 12,000 of the 21,000 seats in Joe Louis Arena were filled.
  • The fight was billed as a tribute to Joe Louis, who died two months earlier.
  • The fight was televised live in prime time on ABC.
  • Holmes got $1.9 million, and Spinks made $490,000.
  • In the third round, Holmes pinned Spinks to the ropes and pounded him with a barrage of right hands. Spinks went down but was able to regain his feet at the count of nine. Holmes then trapped Spinks in the challenger's corner and hit him with right after right until the referee stepped in and stopped the fight, just as Spinks' corner threw in the towel.
  • While Holmes was doing a post-fight interview with ABC commentator Howard Cosell, he spotted Gerry Cooney, the No. 1 contender, being steered in their direction by an ABC aide. Holmes' eyes flared. When Cosell mentioned Cooney, Holmes said, "Howard, I'm going to slap his face if you bring him over here." Holmes then stood up and went after Cooney. During the melee, Holmes accidentally elbowed Cosell in the mouth, cutting his lower lip.
  • Michael Katz of the New York Times wrote the following:
Last night, Holmes was merely awesome, offensively and defensively, in stopping Leon Spinks at 2 minutes 34 seconds of the third round. "Holmes for Real" read the headline in a morning paper here. Detroit had not had a heavyweight title fight since Joe Frazier beat up Bob Foster 10 years ago, but this was Holmes's 38th pro fight, his 38th victory, 28th knockout and 10th successful defense of his World Boxing Council belt. It is not hyperbole to say that he has proved himself a great fighter. It is easy now imagining a Larry Holmes beating a Jack Dempsey. And his new trainer, Eddie Futch, even indicated the other day that Holmes could have beaten Joe Louis. Futch, who grew up here with Louis, called Holmes as "great a boxer as Billy Conn, and Billy Conn was a great boxer." He added that Conn, 10 pounds heavier, could have beaten Louis in their great fight 40 years ago. Holmes is 40 pounds heavier than Conn was that night.