ST. LOUIS (AP) " Cory Spinks overcame a first-round knockdown to outpoint Deandre Latimore on Friday night and win the vacant IBF junior middleweight title.
Spinks (37-5) overcame a cut above his left eye to win the hard-fought split decision between two St. Louis natives. Two judges split their scorecards 115-112, while the third gave a 114-113 edge to the former undisputed welterweight champion.
Spinks won the 12th round all three judges' cards.
"I knew I had to perform in that last round and I did," said Spinks, now a five-time world champion. "I went out like a dog and got it."
The 23-year-old Latimore (19-2) floored Spinks a minute and a half into the bout, but the 31-year-old veteran bounced right up and appeared unhurt. Latimore showed more aggression in the second and third rounds while Spinks was content to save his energy.
Spinks began to wake up in the fifth round after Latimore opened the cut, and the blow appeared to serve as a wake-up call. Spinks began to win rounds, scoring consistently with shots to the body, and needed the final round to beat the young challenger.
Latimore felt he had earned enough points early in the fight to get the decision. He noted that he recorded the only knockdown of the fight, held in front of 9,138 fans whose loyalties were split between the local fighters.
"That decision should have been mine," Latimore said. "I'm a little upset. I dropped him in the first round. I should have had that (114-113) edge."
Spinks comes from a famous fighting and added one more belt to its proud history. He was born five days after his father Leon Spinks upset Muhammad Ali on Feb. 15, 1978. The young Spinks' uncle, Michael, won the heavyweight crown seven years later.
Latimore, who still calls St. Louis home, grew up watching Cory Spinks fight.
"He was my idol," Latimore said, "but this is all business."
Fight promoter Don King is hoping the victory can push Spinks back into the national spotlight. He even said he wanted a matchup with Floyd Mayweather Jr., although the former pound-for-pound king has not officially announced he's coming out of retirement.
"I'm back and I'm ready for anybody," Spinks said.