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Decked Three Times, Leon Spinks Stopped in First Round

January 18, 1987|Associated Press

MIAMI — Jose Ribalta knocked former world champion Leon Spinks down three times before their heavyweight mismatch was stopped 2:10 into the first round Saturday night.

Ribalta, 24-4 with 17 knockouts, was fighting before a hometown crowd at the Coconut Grove Exhibition Center. In addition to the knockdowns, Spinks slipped to the canvas once and was pulled down once in a sloppy round of boxing.

The finishing blow was a right hand, delivered as Spinks was on his way down again. The referee stepped in and stopped the fight.

Spinks, a St. Louis native who trains in Detroit, is 17-7-2 with 11 knockouts. The 1976 Olympic gold medalist shocked the boxing world by beating Muhammad Ali for the undisputed heavyweight title in February 1978, but Ali won it back in a rematch later that year.

The loss Saturday night was the third straight for Spinks, who has battled financial and substance abuse problems in recent years. He had pulled out of this fight briefly early in the week after being insulted by a spokesman for the promoter, Willy Martinez, during a pre-fight news conference. Spinks agreed to return for the fight after Martinez raised his guarantee $5,000 to a total of $20,000.

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