Steady On The Comeback: Paul "The Pittsburgh Kid" Spadafora
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Steady On The Comeback: Paul "The Pittsburgh Kid" Spadafora
By Jason Petock, Doghouse Boxing (May 13, 2013)

Paul Spadafora
(Paul Spadafora)
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Adversity might as well be the given middle name of Light Welterweight boxer Paul “The Pittsburgh Kid” Spadafora (48-0-1/19 KOs) of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A well-known household name of boxing back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, Spadafora epitomized what a schooled and experienced boxer could and should do in the ring. Never one to be flashy or a mouthy fighter, whether inside or outside of the squared circle, Paul was a slick defensive fighter, as adept and versatile a tactician as any who ever laced up the gloves. He used his knowledge of angles and counterpunching to the utmost advantage when he made opponents miss in dramatic fashion and countered accordingly. To be taken to school and shown what a master of pugilism looks like was to face off against Spadafora. Just one round with the crafty veteran would be enough to add another in-class session and subsequent defeat onto your boxing resume. During a time and age where names like Floyd “Money” Mayweather, Jr. (44-0/26 KOs) and his mirror image in Adrien “The Problem” Broner (26-0/22 KOs) get tossed around so loosely as the greatest of all time, few modern fans know that much about a suddenly forgotten and overlooked Paul Spadafora or his accomplishments and skills in the boxing ring. The reason they don’t know of him, however, is a different story altogether.

One of the best fighters to ever come out of the “Iron City”, Spadafora has a rich boxing tradition to uphold in the other city in Pennsylvania that was once a boxing hub in its own right. Middleweight Harry “The Pittsburgh Windmill” Greb (104-8-3/48 KOs) was probably the greatest fighter to hail from Pittsburgh in his own right. Greb participated in two highly controversial contests with Tiger Flowers (117-15-7/54 KOs) back in 1926. The style of Spadafora is vastly different in comparison to the rough-and-tumble methods that were used by Greb back in the day, but the heart and determination that “Spaddy” fights with holds true to this day to the same discipline that “The Pittsburgh Windmill” applied in his own bouts. Coming up the hard way in life, Spadafora has had to work his way back into boxing contention one fight at a time. His disappearance from the scene is an all too familiar tale known well in boxing circles. Paul has had numerous legal troubles between 2003 – 2012, yet he still manages to hold boxing ever close to his heart with the same determination to stay in the ring and capture the glory that he experienced as a professional prizefighter when he was the IBF Lightweight Champion from 1999-2003.

Whereas his return to the ring hasn’t been an easy one, Paul Spadafora doesn’t appear to have skipped a beat and his boxing skills still remain sharper than ever and haven’t diminished in the least. With Floyd Mayweather, Jr. having complained about his body wasting away from doing a 2 month turn in solitary, Spadafora not only didn’t complain about his own stretch, one that was far longer than 2 months, but he came back that much stronger and more resolute in his desire to box again. A fan friendly fighter with a defensive style that is old school and entertaining, “Spaddy” is set to turn the boxing world upside again with his re-emergence as a considerably legitimate threat to the 140 pound division today. Back in the mix with celebrated trainer Tom Yankello and no longer battling the demons of addiction outside of the ring, “The Pittsburgh Kid,” at 37 years old, realizes where he stands in the pugilistic landscape and told Chris Scarnati of SI.com, “One slip up, I’m done. And for me that means death.” But promoter, legendary boxer, and man of many talents, Roy Jones, Jr. (56-8/40 KOs) has faith in Spadafora and wisely related his fighters circumstance to Scarnati with, “Right now he has the best record outside of Mayweather, but he should probably be dead or in jail for life.”

Far from dead and striving to stay active in the ring, Light Welterweight Paul Spadafora has notable wins over Humberto “Bam Baby” Toledo (41-10-2/25 KOs) back in August of 2012 and has more recently captured the vacant NABF Light Welterweight title by UD in 10 rounds against a durable and energetic Robert “Red Hot” Frankel (32-13-1/6 KOs) on April 6, 2013 in West Virginia. Methodically rebuilding his stock and resume in a sport that he was once well-known for, “Spaddy” seeks to not only put his name back out there in boxing fans’ and the media’s mouths, but also continue to shake up the division as another boxer that really has his sights set on Mayweather, Jr. Old school fans and aficionados of pugilism can realistically appreciate this type of bout, with the possibility of two undefeated legends meeting in the center of the ring and showing the world a truly technical and masterful performance should they meet. Both boxers are boxing artisans who understand and know what boxing means as they accept the full responsibility of their positions. Defensively capable and slick counter-punchers, Spadafora vs. Mayweather would showcase two practitioners of boxing once more who bring a dynamic chess match to the ring apron every time they fight.

On paper, both boxers match-up very well as far as making it a competitive and lucrative affair throughout. The idea of Mayweather, Jr. fighting 5 more fights and one of them being against “Vicious” Victor Ortiz (29-4-2/22 KOs) again just doesn’t make sense. Why ask people to pay for the same show twice? Fans and the media know what will happen if and when Ortiz and Mayweather, Jr. fight again and it does nothing for Floyd’s legacy or the sport in general. Should the “Money Team” chose to fight Danny “Swift” Garcia (26-0/16 KOs), once again the interest just will not be there as much. Granted, Garcia fought well against veteran “Super” Zab Judah (42-8/29 KOs) and even dropped him in the 8th round back in April of this year in Judah’s backyard of Brooklyn, New York, but the fight itself will just be another payday for Garcia and a notch on Mayweather, Jr’s. belt and nothing more. The boxing rumor mill has of course been throwing Mexican sensation Saul “Canelo” Alvarez’s (42-0-1/30 KOs) name into the hat for some time now as a possible opponent for Floyd as well. Golden Boy and Mayweather Promotions could make a literal killing gate-wise with a blockbuster bout like Alvarez vs. Mayweather, Jr. San Antonio came out in droves to support Alvarez when he fought Austin “No Doubt” Trout (26-1/14 KOs), so the backing and market is there. Alvarez, although a powerful puncher and a fast learner, may just not be ready defensively for the always slippery and cunning Mayweather, Jr. That’s where Spadafora could step in and may even shine against Floyd.

Paul Spadafora is a walking contradiction when you see him. Covered in tattoos, most casual boxing fans wouldn’t ever think of him as a defensive wizard or student of the game. He looks more like a tattoo artist or a rock star than a professional boxer to the untrained eye. But true fans who know of “Spaddy” and what type of fighter he was and continues to be can skillfully look past his mere appearance non-judgmentally and see him for what he actually is, and that is one hell-of-a-fighter. Add in the fact that he’s a white fighter, a sterotype that often comes with the immediate stuck on labels of being stiff, non-defensive minded, and technically deficient in boxing, and he just breaks down all of those preconceived notions that someone would have of him as a boxer and then some. Paul is a boxer first and foremost as all boxers bleed the same color, red. That’s something that no matter what your background is we can all relate to as one race, the human one.

As Paul “The Pittsburgh Kid” Spadafora fights on during his late 30’s and looks for an eventual showdown with boxing’s brightest star and peer in Floyd “Money” Mayweather, Jr., who is also on a quest of his own to close the show out towards the end of his calling, we observe two boxers at a perpetual crossroads in their careers. In Spadafora there remains the fire of a hungry fighter who made his professional debut way back in October of 1995. Being as much of a seasoned veteran as Floyd is of boxing, he still has to prove his worth again and retrace his steps with every punch that he makes his opponents miss and each one that he has to throw back as an answer. The road to redemption in boxing is a difficult one and few throughout history have been able to make as successful of a comeback as Paul Spadafora has so far. Time will only tell if “The Pittsburgh Kid” can keep it together long enough to continue to entertain us all with his methodological boxing brilliance and intelligence in the ring before he finally has to step out of it.
Jason Petock responds to all his emails. Please send all questions and comments to Jason at: boxingwarrior@hotmail.com

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