By Jackie Kallen
To say that Paul Spadafora has had a tumultuous life is an understatement. This guy doesn’t have to look for trouble. It has found a way to find him at every turn. Between drugs, drinking, assaults, shootings and prison time, he has been through the wringer.
But when he steps into the ring tonight in West Virginia against 17-1-1 Johan Perez, the 38 year-old southpaw is hoping to climb up the ladder another rung. The interim WBA Light Welterweight belt is at stake. Spadafora knows that Father Time is breathing down his neck and he has to move fast to outrun him.
Spadafora, who hails from McKees Rocks, PA, was a promising amateur fighter in the early nineties. Right before he turned pro, he was involved in a shooting and got shot in the leg. After healing, he made his pro debut in 1995. His career started strongly and before long he was in line for a title fight against Israel Cardona. On August 20, 1999 Spadafora became the IBF champ.
He continued winning fights and beating guys like Angel Manfredy and Billy Irwin. But his personal life was not doing as well. In 2003 he was arrested for shooting his pregnant girlfriend. He was released on bail but was later sentenced to 21-60 months.
Boxing is in his blood and Spadafora made a comeback in 2006, beating Frankie Zepeda. He only fought (and won) once in 2007 and once in 2008. He has had seven fights since then and wants a piece of the pie owned by Garcia and Matthysse.
It remains to be seen whether or not he has what it takes to run with the big dogs. Beating Perez would be a step in the right direction since Perez is rated #20 in the world and Spadafora is at #27. The biggest name on Perez’s record is probably Steve Forbes who is 35-12.
Like most people, I always root for people to make successful comebacks and turn their lives around. I hope Spadafora can win his fight and finish up his career by achieving his goals. He can become a cautionary role model for other young fighters.
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