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Old 06-16-2010, 07:16 AM   #1
Stevie G
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Default Supposing Leon Spinks had defended his title against Ken Norton...

...instead of signing for an Ali rematch in 1978. Would heavyweight history been drastically altered ? Muhammad may have missed out on being three time belt holder,for a start.
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Old 06-16-2010, 07:24 AM   #2
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Default Re: Supposing Leon Spinks had defended his title against Ken Norton...

BTW I see Norton stopping Spinks fairly early in the fight.
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Old 06-16-2010, 07:44 AM   #3
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Default Re: Supposing Leon Spinks had defended his title against Ken Norton...

Then Norton takes up his rightfull, and possibly overdue place, on the deathless roll of lineal heavyweight champions.
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Old 06-16-2010, 07:55 AM   #4
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Default Re: Supposing Leon Spinks had defended his title against Ken Norton...

Norton would have ripped Spinks a new one and Butch Lewis knew it. A rematch with a totally jaded Ali meant far more money and far less risk.

If Norton had defeated Spinks, he would have likely defended against Ali and beat him in a fourth fight. Holmes would have taken over thereafter by defeating Norton.

So history would have been altered slightly but not drastically!
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Old 06-16-2010, 08:09 AM   #5
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Default Re: Supposing Leon Spinks had defended his title against Ken Norton...

The only person more scared of a Spinks/Norton fight than Butch Lewis was Muhammad Ali ... both knew Norton would blow Spinks out in a round or so and that Ali would have to fight Norton for the title if he had hopes of getting it back ... the way Norton was ducked was a crime ...
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Old 06-16-2010, 08:19 AM   #6
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Default Re: Supposing Leon Spinks had defended his title against Ken Norton...

When we talk about uncrowned heavyweight champions names like Peter Jackson, Sam Langford and Harry Wills come up but never Ken Norton.

I wonder if there was a significant period where Norton was better than the title holders and idealy equiped to beat them.
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Old 06-16-2010, 08:20 AM   #7
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Default Re: Supposing Leon Spinks had defended his title against Ken Norton...

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Originally Posted by he grant View Post
The only person more scared of a Spinks/Norton fight than Butch Lewis was Muhammad Ali ... both knew Norton would blow Spinks out in a round or so and that Ali would have to fight Norton for the title if he had hopes of getting it back ... the way Norton was ducked was a crime ...
I'll buy that mate. I'm a huge Ali fan but he'd slipped so much in '77 and '78 that he knew Norton would have been an EVEN bigger nightmare than usual!

Norton wins fight IV against Ali all day, had it happened!
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Old 06-16-2010, 08:22 AM   #8
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Default Re: Supposing Leon Spinks had defended his title against Ken Norton...

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Originally Posted by janitor View Post
When we talk about uncrowned heavyweight champions names like Peter Jackson, Sam Langford and Harry Wills come up but never Ken Norton.

I wonder if there was a significant period where Norton was better than the title holders and idealy equiped to beat them.
IMO Norton was better than the title holders from May '77 until June '78.

He decisions the 77 and 78 versions of Ali and beats the shit out of Spinks!
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Old 06-16-2010, 09:10 AM   #9
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Default Re: Supposing Leon Spinks had defended his title against Ken Norton...

If Norton would have come about 5 years later then normal, I think he would have been better then Larry Holmes, but eventually Larry would be able to get the best of him. However, think about Norton facing off against Earnie Shavers...hmmm...would Norton look better then when he got sparked (I'm aware he was already past it for the most part) or would he defend the title?
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Old 06-16-2010, 09:12 AM   #10
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Default Re: Supposing Leon Spinks had defended his title against Ken Norton...

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If Norton would have come about 5 years later then normal, I think he would have been better then Larry Holmes, but eventually Larry would be able to get the best of him. However, think about Norton facing off against Earnie Shavers...hmmm...would Norton look better then when he got sparked (I'm aware he was already past it for the most part) or would he defend the title?
Shavers beats Norton at any virtually any point of their respective careers as does Foreman.
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Old 06-16-2010, 09:17 AM   #11
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Default Re: Supposing Leon Spinks had defended his title against Ken Norton...

Norton obviously has to be favored against the far less experienced Leon Spinks, and I don't even think that it goes the distance. To play devil's advocate however, Ken was reaching the point where he was starting to blow hot and cold.. He gave Holmes all he could handle despite being something like 34 years old, but then got blasted in one round by the equally aged Shavers, less than a year later.. He struggled mightily against Cobb, Ledoux and Young, and I'm still not sure that he didn't lose those fights. For the brief period that Leon had any sort of prescence in the division, he did show up to give some spirited efforts.... Therefore, an upset wouldn't be out of the question at that stage in Norton's career, but again I have to go with Ken.
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Old 06-16-2010, 09:19 AM   #12
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Default Re: Supposing Leon Spinks had defended his title against Ken Norton...

Spinks isn't big enough or hard enough hitting to beat Norton imo.
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Old 06-16-2010, 09:48 AM   #13
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Default Re: Supposing Leon Spinks had defended his title against Ken Norton...

Norton would have dominated Spinks for a 15 round decision..possibly even stopping Spinks late after out finessing him in an intelligent pressure fight. Spinks wouldn't have had the necessary firepower to get Norton's attention, and Norton would have laid a steady, methodical beating on Spinks, who's only ace would have been his toughness..but that would have unravelled over the long haul..in those old 15 round days, Norton would have eaten him alive in the last rounds, 12 thru 15, and like I said, maybe even have stopped Neon Leon late...
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Old 06-16-2010, 09:52 AM   #14
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Default Re: Supposing Leon Spinks had defended his title against Ken Norton...

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Originally Posted by janitor View Post
When we talk about uncrowned heavyweight champions names like Peter Jackson, Sam Langford and Harry Wills come up but never Ken Norton.

I wonder if there was a significant period where Norton was better than the title holders and ideally equipped to beat them.
No, I don't believe there ever was a significant such interval for Norton. Now that a number of reviewers have had an opportunity to evaluate Ali-Norton III on youtube for themselves (instead of basing their suppositions on biased second hand information favorable to Norton), a goodly number of them (in fact a startling number, considering the post fight press assessments claiming Ken deserved the verdict) have concluded that the scoring was fair and accurate. In any event, Ken was certainly not dominant, and this against a post Manila Ali who had just had his injured legs drained after the foolhardy Inoki farce.

Leon's timing was perfect, in that he got Ali not after Manila, Inoki or Norton, but after Shavers, a match I suspect inflicted far more neurological damage on Muhammad than has commonly been supposed. Ali's timing and coordination never looked quite right after going 15 rounds with Earnie, even in winning the rematch with Leon.

As I see it, Ken's only opportunity to win the lineal title in the ring was after Leon upset Ali. Norton could never have become more than a transitional champion though. His susceptibility to sluggers like Shavers, Cooney, Foreman, Lyle, Knoetze, Coetzee and Mercado, would have been too pronounced, and Holmes boxed his ears off over the first ten rounds of their classic. (John Tate might well have forced him back and physically smothered Ken, as he did Weaver for 13 of 15 rounds. Big John would also have been far more wary of Norton's power, as he was with that of Knoetze and Coetzee. Tate was caught by surprise against Weaver and Berbick. Ken would have never enjoyed such a stealthy advantage.)

Can Norton truly be considered a legitimate hall of famer? Even if so, is an early IBHOF induction date of 1992 a fair reflection of his "greatness?" What's his best decisive win? A slow starting Bobick whose vulnerability to the right had already been exposed by Stevenson in Munich? An utterly shot Jerry Quarry, who couldn't get out of his own way, let alone Ken's punches? Zanon? The Garcia rematch? Lovell? The one punch knockout of Stephens? Are any of these stoppages genuinely better than Leon's knockouts of Evangelista (then on a decent winning streak with some quality experience behind him) or Mercado? (Bernardo Mercado had starched Berbick in one, repeating a 1975 amateur win over Trevor, decisioned Henry Clark, climbed off the deck to outlast Shavers, and had just stopped Prater in 12, seemingly putting to rest earlier questions about his stamina.) I think a real case can be made that between Leon and Ken, Leon's ninth round TKO of Mercado is the best heavyweight stoppage win either produced in their respective careers.

Of course Norton would have beaten Leon if they squared off in the summer of 1978. I don't recall anybody anywhere suggesting otherwise. But neither do I recall any suggestion that Leon was actually the best heavyweight in the world.
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Old 06-16-2010, 10:04 AM   #15
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Default Re: Supposing Leon Spinks had defended his title against Ken Norton...

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Originally Posted by JohnThomas1 View Post
Spinks isn't big enough or hard enough hitting to beat Norton imo.
A cautionary reminder though, JT, that this was also believed of 188 pound stringbean Garcia when he first squared off with Ken (then on the brink of turning 27). Norton did manage to inflict some damage on Garcia in their first match, but Jose still beat the crap out of him. Ken outweighed Garcia by 20 pounds, about the same difference he would have held over Leon in 1978.

I do agree that Leon didn't have the firepower to hurt Norton sufficiently to stop him, although he had good power for his size.
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