Leon Spinks, an American professional boxer born on July 11, 1953, was known as one of the best fighters of his time. His professional career in boxing spanned over 18 years, from 1977 to 1995. Throughout his career, he fought a total of 46 matches, with 26 wins, 17 losses, 3 draws and no-no-contests.
Spinks was a cruiserweight and a heavyweight boxer, and he had an orthodox stance. His height was 6 ft 1 in (185 cm) and his reach was 76 in (193 cm). The boxer, famously known as Neon, was one of the best in the industry, having won three world titles at heavyweight. He was also a one-time undisputed heavyweight world champion. During his career, 14 of his 26 wins came via knockout.
Spinks' professional debut was against Bob Smith in January 1977, when he defeated Smith via 5th round TKO. Following this, he won his next four fights, all of them by stoppage, which meant he had five wins straight out of his professional debut.
The highlight of Spinks' career was on February 15, 1978, when he had his first world title fight against Hall-of-Famer Muhammad Ali. This was Spinks' seventh professional fight and was for the heavyweight WBA, WBC, and The Ring titles. He beat Ali via 15 round split-decision to become the heavyweight champion of the world. Spinks was the only person to take a title from Ali in the ring, and he won world heavyweight titles in his eighth professional fight, making history by having the shortest span in history between a debut and a world title win. He now held the WBA, WBC, and The Ring heavyweight world champion belts.
After winning the world heavyweight titles, Spinks faced numerous challenges which caused his career to become very perplexed. He was also stripped of the WBC title for facing Ali in an unapproved rematch seven months later, which he lost by a unanimous decision. In 1981, Spinks challenged Larry Holmes for the WBC heavyweight title but lost after taking multiple punches without responding in the third round.
Throughout his career, Spinks fought numerous fights, including notable victories over Rick Kellar, Lupe Guerra, Alfredo Evangelista, Kevin Poindexter, Jack Jackson, and Bernardo Mercado. However, he suffered 17 losses, three of which were in title bouts and 14 were in non-title bouts. He lost nine fights via KO loss.
Spinks' last professional fight was a non-title bout against Fred Houpe on December 4, 1995, in which he lost via 8 round unanimous decision. After this fight, he retired from professional boxing with a record of 26-17-3, which included 14 knockout wins and nine losses via knockout and three title wins.
Leon Spinks was not just a talented boxer; he also had a brief career as a professional wrestler in the 1990s. He worked for Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling (FMW) and held the FMW Brass Knuckles Heavyweight Championship in 1992.
Spinks was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, United States. As an amateur, Spinks won numerous medals in the light heavyweight division. The first was a bronze medal at the inaugural 1974 World Championships, followed by a silver medal at the 1975 Pan American Games, and a gold medal at the 1976 Summer Olympics, alongside his brother Michael Spinks, who won a middleweight gold medal. He served in the United States Marine Corps from 1973 to 1976, rising to the rank of corporal.
Spinks was a legendary fighter whose career spanned many years, and he made history by being one of the few to take a title from Muhammad Ali in the ring, marking one of the biggest upsets in boxing history. His nickname, Neon, is remembered by boxing fans all over the world. Although Spinks had a difficult career and faced numerous challenges, he remains one of the greatest boxers of his time.
Leon Spinks Fight Record
|46||Dec 4, 1995||42||Fred Houpe||Loss||UD|
|45||Jun 19, 1995||41||Ray Kipping||Win||UD|
|44||Oct 22, 1994||41||John Carlo||Loss||KO1|
|43||Oct 1, 1994||41||Shane Sutcliffe||Loss||UD|
|42||Jun 22, 1994||40||Eddie Curry||Win||DQ|
|41||Feb 27, 1993||39||James Wilder||Loss||PTS|
|40||Dec 11, 1992||39||Kevin Poindexter||Win||KO1|
|39||Sep 26, 1992||39||Kevin Porter||Loss||PTS|
|38||Jul 24, 1992||39||Jack Jackson||Win||KO3|
|37||Jun 17, 1992||38||Rocky Bentley||Win||PTS|
|36||Mar 20, 1992||38||Rick Myers||Win||UD|
|35||Feb 28, 1992||38||Andre Crowder||Win||SD|
|34||Nov 15, 1991||38||Lupe Guerra||Win||KO3|
|33||May 30, 1988||34||Tony Morrison||Loss||TKO1|
|32||Mar 18, 1988||34||Randall Cobb||Loss||MD|
|31||Dec 20, 1987||34||Ladislao Mijangos||Loss||SD|
|30||Oct 20, 1987||34||Terry Mims||Loss||SD|
|29||Aug 29, 1987||34||Jim Ashard||Draw||SD|
|28||May 22, 1987||33||Angelo Musone||Loss||KO7|
|27||Apr 28, 1987||33||Jeff Jordan||Win||SD|
|26||Jan 17, 1987||33||José Ribalta||Loss||TKO1|
|25||Aug 2, 1986||33||Rocky Sekorski||Loss||TKO6|
|24||Mar 22, 1986||32||Dwight Muhammad Qawi||Loss||TKO6|
|23||Dec 13, 1985||32||Kip Kane||Win||TKO8|
|22||Jun 29, 1985||31||Tom Franco Thomas||Win||UD|
|21||May 9, 1985||31||Tom Fischer||Win||UD|
|20||Apr 9, 1985||31||Rick Kellar||Win||TKO2|
|19||Feb 21, 1985||31||Lupe Guerra||Win||TKO4|
|18||Mar 6, 1983||29||Carlos de León||Loss||RTD6|
|17||Oct 31, 1982||29||Jesse Burnett||Win||UD|
|16||Feb 24, 1982||28||Ivy Brown||Win||UD|
|15||Jun 12, 1981||27||Larry Holmes||Loss||TKO3|
|14||Oct 2, 1980||27||Bernardo Mercado||Win||TKO9|
|13||May 3, 1980||26||Kevin Isaac||Win||TKO8|
|12||Mar 8, 1980||26||Eddie López||Draw||SD|
|11||Jan 12, 1980||26||Alfredo Evangelista||Win||KO5|
|10||Jun 24, 1979||25||Gerrie Coetzee||Loss||TKO1|
|9||Sep 15, 1978||25||Muhammad Ali||Loss||UD|
|8||Feb 15, 1978||24||Muhammad Ali||Win ⭐️||SD|
|7||Nov 18, 1977||24||Alfio Righetti||Win||UD|
|6||Oct 22, 1977||24||Scott LeDoux||Draw||SD|
|5||Jun 1, 1977||23||Bruce Scott||Win||KO3|
|4||May 7, 1977||23||Pedro Agosto||Win||KO1|
|3||Mar 20, 1977||23||Jerry McIntyre||Win||KO1|
|2||Mar 5, 1977||23||Peter Freeman||Win||KO1|
|1||Jan 15, 1977||23||Bob Smith||Win||TKO5|