Michael Spinks vs. Dwight Muhammad Qawi

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Dwight Muhammad Qawi 174 lbs lost to Michael Spinks 173 lbs by UD in round 15 of 15


Dwight Braxton changed his name to Dwight Muhammad Qawi in November 1982, but he agreed to fight Spinks under the name Braxton. Promoter Butch Lewis wanted Qawi to go by Braxton because he was better known by that name. As the Associated Press reported: "There's publicity and marquee value in the name Dwight Braxton." [1]

By Michael Katz, New York Times, March 19, 1983

ATLANTIC CITY, March 18 — Michael Spinks, resorting not to his power but to his jab, held on to outpoint Dwight Braxton tonight over 15 tense and often artistic but frequently dull rounds to unify the light-heavyweight title for the first time since 1974.

Spinks had broken down and cried in his dressing room before the bout in mourning for his common-law wife, Sandra Massey, who died two months ago in a Philadelphia automobile accident. Then, after the unanimous but close decision was announced, he was greeted in the ring by their 2-year-old daughter, Michelle.

In between, Spinks suffered a questionable knockdown in the eighth round when it appeared his bad right knee was about to give way. He tired in the closing rounds, mainly from retreating out of Braxton's way and was not sure he had won.

"I did it, I did it," he cried in the ring before the decision was announced. "I think I did it."

Judges Tony Perez and Frank Capacino both thought Spinks did it by 144 points to 141 on the 10-point scoring system. Judge Tony Castallano had Spinks ahead, 144-140.

Spinks, who had won the World Boxing Association version of the 175-pound title from Eddie Mustafa Muhammad in 1981, added the World Boxing Council title that Braxton also won that year. [[|Marvin Hagler|Marvelous Marvin Hagler]], the middleweight champion, is the only other fighter to hold both titles.

The 30-year-old Braxton, saying he thought he won, added, "If I did get beat, I beat myself."

"I let him run away," said Braxton, wearing a cap that said, "Back in Training," at the post-fight news conference at Convention Hall. "It was more like a track meet out there. He had a lot of dog in him. Even though he ran, he did enough to impress the judges I guess."

But Braxton's co-trainers, Quenzell McCall and Wesley Mouzon, both thought Spinks had won. "Dwight didn't have any fire in him tonight," said McCall. "He was loafing. I don't think he won. I thought it was close, but there were some rounds I would've given Spinks simply because Dwight didn't do anything."

In fact, both champions were so respectful of each other, this fight billed as "The Brawl for It All" turned into a tactical boxing match. If Spinks started landing left hooks, Braxton moved his right hand closer to his chin. It was good defense, but it did not allow Braxton to do much punching.

Spinks said he fought "a superb fight."

"My plan was to make it look like that old TV show," he said. "I wanted to be the 'Untouchable.' I beat him with a jab. I beat him with one hand."

A crowd of only about 7,000 showed up at 14,000-seat Convention Hall for the long and short of the light-heavyweight division. Afterward, Butch Lewis, the fight's promoter said the crowd was 9,854, and the total gate was close to $1 million. The 173-pound Spinks, the 1976 Olympic champion who is now undefeated in 23 professional fights, is 6 feet 2 1/2 inches and is the second tallest light-heavyweight champion in history. Bob Foster, the tallest at 6-3, was the last man to hold the unified title.

The 174-pound Braxton, at 5-6 3/4, was the shortest light heavyweight champion in history. He now has a record of 19-2-1. The winner and loser each earned $1.2 million, the richest purse in light-heavyweight history.

Spinks cruised through the opening rounds. He had landed a hard right to the top of Braxton's head in the first seconds of the fight and the W.B.C. champion, who had sparred with Spinks for 120 rounds three years ago, was reminded that getting inside, where he does his best work, would be dangerous against Spinks. He allowed Spinks to pile up points and rounds, mainly with a jab and sidestepping.

Braxton was wild with some of his punches in the early rounds but began to settle down in the fifth. He started using his own fine jab. The shorter man's defense was beginning to frustrate Spinks, too. He made Spinks miss a long right and quickly countered with a left hook to the head that sent Spinks back-pedaling.

In the sixth, Spinks missed about six haymakers in a row at the crouched Braxton, who bobbed his head back and forth out of danger and then struck suddenly with a right of his own - punctuated when he stuck out his tongue at the taller man.

After the seventh round, McCall told Braxton, "You're losing." Just when it appeared that Braxton, who had been bothered by a cold for almost two weeks, was tiring, Spinks was on the canvas three times in the eighth round - one counted as a knockdown by Referee Larry Hazzard even though the punch, a right to the belly, was not as effective as Braxton's stepping on Spinks's toes. The other two times Spinks went down were caused by slips. On one of them it appeared that his right knee had buckled.

"You saw him step on my foot," said Spinks of the knockdown. "He pushed me, but there was no sense arguing."

"I kept accidentally stepping on his feet," said Braxton. "His feet were so big." But even without the slips, it appeared in the eighth round that Spinks might have punched himself out missing Braxton. But Braxton could still not get where he had to be in order to dominate. On the few occasions he did work his way inside Spinks's jab, he was easily tied up.

"I didn't fight as I should have," said Braxton. "I was supposed to stay on top of him and be more snappy with my punches." In the ninth, Hazzard warned Braxton for a low blow, but this was a clean fight. Braxton had become the aggressor, but he was finding it almost as hard to land any serious punches as was Spinks.

In the 11th, Braxton did not throw a serious punch for the first two minutes, but when Spinks missed a right hand, Braxton launched a solid right to the chin and a left hook to the head that seemed to hurt the taller champion. In the 13th, a long overhand right followed by a right uppercut again seemed to stagger Spinks.

But he calmly moved away behind his jab, and Braxton never was able to follow up. [2]