Spinks, then ranked among the world's heavyweight challengers, made history on February 15, 1978, when he beat Muhammad Ali in a 15-round decision in Las Vegas. Spinks won the world heavyweight title in only his eighth fight, the fastest ascent in history. An aging Ali had expected and wanted an easy fight, but he was out-hustled by Spinks, who did not seem to tire throughout the bout. It was one of the few occasions when Ali had left with a bruised and puffy face. Spinks victory over Ali was to be the peak of his career. Spinks became the only man to ever take a title belt from Muhammad Ali in the ring (Ali's other four losses were non-title contests). Spinks' iconic gap-toothed grin was featured on the cover of the February 19, 1978 issue of Sports Illustrated.