Leon Spinks vs. Muhammad Ali (2nd meeting)

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Muhammad Ali lands a left hook against Leon Spinks.

Muhammad Ali 221 lbs beat Leon Spinks 201 lbs by UD in round 15 of 15


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Jabs Ali Spinks
Landed 68 30
Thrown 373 175
Percent 18.2% 17.1%
Power Punches Ali Spinks
Landed 99 114
Thrown 294 320
Percent 33.7% 35.6%
Total Punches Ali Spinks
Landed 167 144
Thrown 667 495
Percent 25% 29.1%
  • Muhammad Ali vs. Leon Spinks II was seen in some 80 nations.
  • ABC televised the fight live in the United States. The network paid $5.3 million for the rights. An estimated audience of 90 million watched the main event. The bout drew a 46.7 rating, meaning 46.7 percent of TV sets in the nation were tuned in.
  • Attendance at the Superdome was 63,350. It was the largest indoor attendance ever for a boxing match.
  • The card contained three other world title fights: WBA bantamweight champion Alberto Davila vs. Jorge Lujan, WBC featherweight champion Danny Lopez vs. Juan Malvarez, and WBA light heavyweight champion Victor Galindez vs. Mike Rossman.
  • Spinks earned $3.75 million, and Ali made $3.25 million.
  • Ali was a 2½-1 favorite.
  • In Spinks' dressing room before the fight, it was discovered that no one had remembered to bring his protective cup, water bucket and water bottle. "For God's sake, get Leon a cup," Sam Solomon, Spinks' principal trainer, said to Chet Cummings, a public-relations man for Top Rank. Cummings turned to Vickie Blain, another Top Rank employee, and said, "Go get Leon a cup for ice." Solomon yelled, "Not that kind of a cup. A cup cup, for God's sake. A cup cup!" Finally, they borrowed a protective cup, two water bottles and a bucket from Mike Rossman, who was sharing the dressing room with Spinks.
  • Sam Solomon told co-trainer George Benton that he would be permitted to give advice only every third or fourth round. They would alternate. One round, Solomon would give advice; the next round, it would be Michael Spinks, the champion's younger brother; then it would be Benton's turn. "Remember," Solomon told Benton, "if it's not your turn in the corner and you have something to say to Leon, just tell the guy whose turn it is and he'll relay the message." Benton later said, "What am I supposed to do? Go in and say, 'Remember four rounds ago when I said to...' Then he tells me how we can relay instructions. Now it's rule by committee. It was amateur hour and amateurs were running the show." Benton walked out on the fight at the end of the fifth round. "My God," he said, "it's a zoo."
  • Pat Putnam of Sports Illustrated wrote: "The plan was simple. Ali would jab, jab, throw a right and grab. When Spinks came flailing in, Ali would hook his left hand around the back of Spinks' head and pull him into an embrace, effectively limiting Spinks to one or two punches or pulling him off balance. And Ali would dance, baby, dance. He would tie up Spinks and then dance away from him on the break, circling to the right, circling to the left. And the fight went as plotted."
  • Referee Lucien Joubert took the fifth round away from Ali for holding.
  • The Associated Press scored the fight 12-3 for Ali.
  • Ali regained the WBA heavyweight title and avenged his split decision loss to Spinks from seven months prior. He also became the first man to win the World Heavyweight Championship three times.
  • Ali sent an official letter of retirement to the WBA in June 1979. Promoter Bob Arum said he paid Ali $300,000 to announce his retirement because Ali's reluctance had delayed the scheduling of a fight between John Tate and Gerrie Coetzee for the vacant WBA title. "We knew Muhammad Ali was going to retire," Arum said, "but as long as he delayed, I couldn't make definite plans."
  • Fight Poster, Program Cover, Sports Illustrated Cover, Photo 2, Photo 3, Photo 4, Photo 5.


  • "This will be my last fight. I will go down as the first man to win the title three times." - Ali before the fight.
  • "I don't think it will be the end of his career if I beat him. He can still make commercials." - Spinks before the fight.
  • "I killed myself to get ready for Spinks. I suffered and sacrificed more than I ever did. There's nothing left for me to gain by fighting." - Ali after the fight.
  • "I congratulated Ali. He is still my idol." - Spinks two weeks after the fight.

See Also