On September 21, 1989, Olympic gold medalist and light heavyweight champ Michael Spinks shocked the boxing world by defeating heavyweight champion Larry Holmes. The fight was named Upset of the year by The Ring Magazine.
Holmes had taken over duties as heavyweight king from Ken Norton in 1978 via 15 round split decision. Spinks represented Holmes' 19th defense of the title. More significantly, a win against Spinks would tie the undefeated record of the great Rocky Marciano.
Michael Spinks was the reigning WBC, WBA and IBF light heavyweight champion. However, no reigning light heavyweight champ had ever stepped up in weight to take the heavyweight title from a reigning champion.
Spinks was a clear underdog in the fight. He won by narrow unanimous decision with scores of 145-142, 145-142 and 143-142. It was enough to make history for Spinks and prevent Holmes from taking an already legendary career to new heights.
WBC King Vitali Klitschko
Fast forward to 2011. Vitali Klitschko (42-2, 39 KO) shares the heavyweight crown with his brother, Wladimir. While Wlad has more belts, Vitali is considered by many to be the best heavyweight in the sport. With a knockout percentage of 88.64, the best in boxing, and a jab that lands like a two ton piston, Vitali appears unstoppable.
Vitali Wears Gruesome Cut like Badge of Honor
Though Klitschko suffered an embarrassing loss to Chris Byrd eleven years ago, he was not really beaten in that fight. He took himself out of the action, citing a shoulder injury. This did little to endear fans to the fighter from Ukraine, but Klitschko redeemed himself in dramatic fashion in the only other loss on his record.
Klitschko fought Lennox Lewis in 2003, sustaining a gruesome cut above his left eye. Despite the injury, Klitschko pressed the action, hurting Lewis and eating powerful uppercuts like candy. When the fight was eventually stopped he demanded a rematch, screaming his desire in the ring.
Now Klitschko is challenged by Tomasz Adamek (44-1, 28 KO). Adamek made his name clearing out the light heavyweight division, winning belts as a cruiserweight and picking up some of the marginal heavyweight titles left on on the floor by the Klitschkos.
Adamek has proven himself against giants. He outboxed both Chris Arreola and Michael Grant. This gives some boxing insiders pause when considering his upcoming fight with the 6'8" Klitschko. Could Adamek prevail?
Klitschko Gives Chris Arreola an Earfull
Klitschko knocked out Chris Arreola.
Klitschko also has the benefit of not having history weigh on his shoulders as it did for Holmes. Furthermore, he has seen smaller men come up and take belts away from heavyweights. He is less likely to dismiss Adamek's chances, as Holmes may have dismissed Spinks'.
Still, Adamek is the younger, busier fighter. At 40 years of age, Klitschko is due to show signs of slowing down. Of course, he has never been out of shape.
If Adamek is to win, he will surely have to take a decision. He will have to box, score points, and avoid the paralysing jab and concussive straight right of the larger Klitschko.
The advantage goes to Klitschko, of course, but this winter is ripe with upset possibilities. Mayweather vs Ortiz, Pacquiao vs. Marquez and Klitschko vs. Adamek all promise at least the chance of a surprise.
Could Adamek follow in the footsteps of Michael Spinks and shock the world?