Expect a full house in St. Louis

Updated: February 3, 2005, 10:31 PM ET
Associated Press

ST. LOUIS -- Cory Spinks has turned out to be a much bigger drawing card in his hometown than promoters envisioned.

Savvis Center general manager Dennis Petrullo said he'd have been happy with a crowd of 14,000 or 15,000 for Spinks' welterweight title rematch against Zab Judah on Saturday night. Instead, all 20,655 tickets have been sold.

"That's the greatest thing any promoter could hope for," promoter Don King said Thursday. "If the light ain't shining in St. Louis, it ain't shining nowhere."

Spinks, son of former heavyweight champion Leon Spinks, grew up on St. Louis' rough north side and still lives in suburban St. Charles. Spinks and his trainer, Dennis Cunningham, have long wanted a fight in the city.

Spinks wore a Redd Foxx T-shirt, honoring another St. Louis-born personality, at the news conference.

"It's just a blessing to finally come here and defend my title," Spinks said. "I'd like to thank Zab for taking this risk."

Spinks, who decisioned Judah in April in Las Vegas, said he'll win the battle of left-handers again. Spinks is 34-2 with 11 knockouts; Judah, who has won two fights since the loss to Spinks, is 32-2 with 23 knockouts and is a former junior welterweight champion.

"I'm not the champion for nothing. I'm not ready to lose my belt," Spinks said. "I've trained very hard and I'm ready to go in there and do my thing."

This came after some tough talk from Judah, who knocked down Spinks in the 12th and final round of the first meeting in Las Vegas. In typical overstatement, King characterized Judah, of New York, as an imposing invader along the likes of Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great and Darth Vadar.

"This is the Show-Me State and I'm coming to show you I am the best pound-for-pound fighter," Judah said. "When I'm at my 'A' game, there's nothing you can do to touch me or stop me. Cory, he had his reign. It's a new year and it's time for a change."

The fighters on the undercard, heavyweights Monte "Two Gunz" Barrett and Owen "What the Heck" Beck, were perhaps even more entertaining at Thursday's news conference. Barrett, 30-3 with 16 knockouts, is ranked No. 3 in the WBC; Beck is 24-0 with 18 knockouts.

"I'm going to let him live in the glory, because it's going to be his last," Barrett said. "I'm going to put Beck to sleep so we can go on to bigger and better things."

Barrett then yammered from the microphone in front of his seat on the dais while Beck had his turn at the podium.

"I'm not here to talk junk," Beck said. "I'm just going to break it down."

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press