By: Ken Hissner
Floyd Mayweather, Sr. entered the gym and asked “when are you going to let my son spar with that Pisano?” Jess Reid replied quickly “how about setting it up but it has to be 6 rounds not 4 rounds.” Reid told Paul “The Pittsburgh Kid” that he trained the Uncle Roger to a championship and knew the Mayweather style well and that Spadafora could beat him and it would be a good thing for his career. So they went to the Mayweather gym and Spadafora got the best of Mayweather, Jr. over 4 rounds. Mayweather asked Reid if that could be enough and Reid shot back at his no it wasn’t especially since your father has been shooting his mouth off about you handling Spadafora. The next 2 rounds are on www.youtube.com and by the end of the sixth round Mayweather, Jr. went down on the canvas just lying there exhausted. Several times a match for the two fighters was on the table but the Mayweather’s never followed through.
Paul “The Pittsburgh Kid” seemed to have it all but he also hung out with the wrong crowd but that was his decision to make. Here was a good looking Italian kid from McKees Rocks, PA, and a southpaw to boot. He had an amateur record of 75-5 under the watchful eye of PK Pecora.
Just past Spadafora’s twentieth birthday in October of 1995 he turned professional at Sheraton Station Square in Pittsburgh scoring a decision over Steve Maddux over four rounds. He came in at 132 pounds and from that point through his first fourteen fights on May of 1997 he was brought along slow against only one opponent with a winning record. “I took over as head trainer for his fight with Bernard Harris, 11-2-1, in his first eight rounder in August of 1997,” said Yankello. That was without question the toughest opponent up to that point for Spadafora.
Spadafora won two more fights before 1997 was over. In March of 1998 Philadelphia’s Troy Fletcher, 13-5-2, of the fighting Fletcher family was brought in. His two brothers which included Frank “The Animal” and Anthony were the “two bad boys’ whit Anthony doing life as a member of the Junior Mafia and Frank having just got out of prison this past year. Troy was on a four fight losing streak at the time. This was at the Avalon Hotel in Monroeville that Spadafora captured an eight round decision.
In May Filipino Amado Cabato, 45-26-8, was brought in. Spadafora would stop him in the seventh of an eight putting Cabato into retirement. It was only the third time Cabato had been stopped in eighty-nine fights. Four weeks later Spadafora fought for his first minor title defeating Jose Aponte, 14-9-2, over twelve rounds for the vacant IBC Lightweight Title at the Mountaineer Casino Race Track & Resort in Chester, W.V. He found himself a “second home” fighting there.
In October of 1998 it was Sam Girard, 17-5-1 who in his two previous fights lost to Israel Cardona, 27-2, and Floyd Mayweather, Jr., then 13-0. Spadafora would shut him out winning every round of a ten at Chester, WV.
After going unbeaten in twenty-three fights Spadafora got his first national exposure on ESPN2 defeating Rocky Martinez, 29-2, snapping his nine fight winning streak in January of 1999. In August after scoring another win in March was his opportunity to fight Israel Cardona, 31-2, for the vacant IBF World Lightweight Title scoring a lopsided decision at Chester, WV. It looked like the future was finally very bright for the “The Pittsburgh Kid!”
In Spadafora’s first defense in December of 1999 came Australian Renato Cornett, 30-2-1, at the Law Convention Center in Pittsburgh winning the first ten rounds finally stopping Cornett on cuts in the eleventh round. What followed was a fight many people still talk about when Spadafora came off the canvas twice in the third round to battle back and defeat Victoriano Sosa, 24-1-1, of the Dominican Republic by scores of 114-112-115-112 and 116-111, at the Turning Stone Casino, in Verona, NY. Sosa would go 11-0-1 before getting another title fight but it was losing to WBC Lightweight champion Mayweather, then 29-0, over twelve rounds, in April of 2003.
During the rest of 2000 Spadafora would have successful title wins over former IBC Champion Cleveland’s Mike “The Hammer” Griffith, 23-6, and Canada’s Billy Irwin, 34-3, with a non-title win in between over Rodney Jones, 23-0. “I didn’t work the corners for Sosa and Griffith, it was Jesse Reid.
In 2001 Spadafora in a title defense defeated Texan Joel Perez, 31-4-2, in May. In August Philadelphia’s Chucky “T” Tschorniawaky, 20-3-1, in a non-title bout would be all but shut out. In 2002 he would only have two fights, both defenses defeating Angel “El Diablo” Manfedy, 39-5-1, with all scores 115-113 in March. Manfredy in his previous fight won an IBF eliminator defeating Julio Diaz, 23-0, to earn the title shot at the A.J. Palumbo Center in Pittsburgh. “I felt the Manfredy fight was relatively easy for Paul even with a weight problem and probably only about 60% of himself at best. The only real damage of any kind that he suffered in that fight was from a head butt,” said Yankello. Then Denmark’s Dennis Holbaek Pederson, 43-1, came into Chester, W.V. in November bringing his IBC Lightweight title. Spadafora won by scores of 118-110 and 117-111 twice.
In May of 2003 in a unification bout with two time Olympian who was 239-15 in the amateurs the Romanian Leonard Dorin, 21-0, out of Montreal, who held the WBA Super World title the two of them battled in a bloody bout with both receiving facial cuts with Spadafora getting a 115-114 nod and Dorin a 115-113 nod. The final judge had it 114-114 as did this writer. Please go to www.youtube.com to see this one and you will not be sorry. Spadafora countered Dorin who did nothing but head hunt with that right hand of his.
Both received cuts as early as the third round. Spadafora was examined by the ring physician after the eighth round. Dorin seemed to have an edge after the first twelve rounds by a couple of points.
Spadafora took the last two rounds to even the score. HBO Judge Harold Lederman had it 115-113 for the much shorter by five inches Dorin while ringside commentator Larry merchant like this writer called it a draw. Both fighters received forty-five day suspensions. The referee was Philadelphia’s Rudy Battle did an excellent job as the referee and is currently one of the PA Commissioner’s. It would be the last title fight for Spadafora. For Dorin he would stop Chucky “T” and be knocked out by the WBC World Super Lightweight Champion Arturo Gatti that ended Dorin’s career at 22-1-1.
For Spadafora he would also move up to Super Lightweight in 2004 shutting out Ruben Galvan, 20-4-2, in April and stopping Francisco Campos, 18-0-1, in the tenth and final round in July. Spadafora would receive a 30 day suspension due to a cut over his left eye.
In December Spadafora’s outside the ring problems would start big time. He would be arrested for a shooting and be released posting a $50,000 bond. He would not go the prison and boot camp until February of 2005 serving thirteen months on a twenty-one to sixty month sentencing. He would be parolled in May of 2006. He would be out of the boxing ring for thirty-two months returning in November of 2006 after his release from prison in April of 2006. The glory days seemed over for Spadafora.
In Spadafora’s first fight back in the then annual day before Thanksgiving show at the Avalon Hotel in Erie, PA, he stopped Frankie Zepeda, 16-3, in the fifth round. In March of 2007 he won a split decision over Ireland’s Oisin Fagan, 17-3, after being deducted a point in the eighth round for low blows. He was back in jail on a parole violation in May of2007 getting released in August of 2007 due to not enough evidence available to continue his parole violation.
It would be thirteen months before Spadafora would return to the ring in April of 2008 winning all eight rounds at the Avalon Hotel over Shad Howard, 13-10-3. It would be another fourteen months before his next fight stopping Ivan Orlando Bustos, 25-12-3, of Argentina in June of 2009. Three months later in September he would defeat Jermaine White, 17-3, over eight rounds at Heinz Field VIP Tent in Pittsburgh.
In March of 2010 Spadafora would spend his next six fights “on the road” starting with stopping Ivan Fiorietta, 24-5-2, of Italy in the eighth round of a scheduled ten at the War Memorial Auditorium in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. In March he would travel to the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, CT, forcing the former interim IBF International champion Alain Hernandez, 18-8-2, who refused to continue after five rounds.
Spadafora and his promoter Mike Acri had a dispute with Spadafora bringing a lawsuit. He would re-enter the ring in August of 2012 defeating Ecuador’s Humberto Toledo, 39-7-2, over eight rounds in Chester, WV. He would end the year in December defeating Nigerian Solomon Egberime, 22-3-1, out of Australia who was the WBO Oriental Super Lightweight champion over ten rounds.
In April of 2013 Spadafora defeated Robert Frankel, 32-12-1, for the vacant NABF Super Lightweight title over ten rounds in Chester, WV. for the third straight fight at this location and the fifth on the road. Now it was Spadafora taking his 48-0-1 record fighting for the interim WBA World Super Lightweight Title against Johan Perez, 17-1-1, of VZ, for the fourth straight bout at the Mountaineer Casino Racetrack & Resort in Chester, WV. This bout went right down to the wire. The ring announcer announced “we have a majority decision. Judge Glen Feldman had it 114-114, Judge James Tia 115-113 and Judge Rex Agin 1117-111 for the winner Johan Perez!”
“He fought a good fight. I fought my heart out and am not ashamed of nothing. I may have dislocated my left elbow. I felt I hurt him to the body. I’m disappointed with my performance. I was reaching because I couldn’t get in close enough,” said Spadafora.
It would be July of 2014 when Spadafora “returned home” for his final fight at Rivers Casino, in Pittsburgh. He took on veteran Hector Velazquez, 56-21-3.
Spadafora had an easy night with scores of 79-73 twice and 80-72 over eight rounds.
There was always talk of a comeback and he sparred with current contenders. Since the WBC 105 pound champ Chayaphon Moonsri of Thailand improved his record to 49-0 it might mean Floyd Mayweather, Jr. will be fighting again to stay one win ahead of him. If it was going to be with either McGregor or Spadafora who do you think he would pick? It’s a no brainer. Why did Floyd Mayweather, Jr., avoid fighting Paul “The Pittsburgh Kid” Spadafora?