By Matt Uplinger
“I’m trying to be who I’m destined to be.”…
“I’m the diamond in the dirt, that ain’t been found. I’m the
underground king and I ain’t been crowned. When I rhyme, something
special happen every time I’m the greatest, something like Ali in his
On Saturday, August 18th, Pittsburgh’s Paul Spadafora entered the ring to the sound of a roaring crowd and these lyrics (courtesy of 50 Cent –
Many Men) for his fight with Humberto Toledo at Mountaineer Casino in Chester, WV. Spadafora may be the saddest story of wasted talent in the
history of boxing, but he is determined to give his story a different ending despite the roadblocks in his path. From getting shot in the leg, going to prison, to his battles with addiction; Spadafora’s troubled past is no mystery to long time boxingheads.
There is also that infamous sparring session with Floyd Mayweather Jr from a decade ago that went viral on YouTube in recent years, in which Spadafora dominated Money Mayweather in rare fashion. Once again, Spadafora is back in the headlines with another comeback. Paul’s last fight was just shy of his 37th birthday but I can tell you with no bias that he boxed like he was in his prime with skill that rivals most top-tier talent from 140 to 147.
He controlled the fight with superb head movement and by utilizing his legendary jab en-route to his unanimous decisions victory. Aside from his face showing a bit of age and his wide array of newly added tattoos, the 2012 Paul Spadafora is almost indistinguishable from the 2002 Paul Spadafora. Most jaded boxing fans will still dismiss Paul Spadafora’s talent for various reasons. The most prominent reasons tend to be focused on his overblown 46-0-1 record consisting of “limited opposition,” others are hinged on his age. Both of these misconceptions can be easily debunked to any open-minded fan. First and foremost, you don’t get to 46-0-1 without having some kind of real talent. Paul won and defended the IBF Lightweight Title eight times.
Spadafora’s body of work is as impressive as Andre Berto or Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.; for example, but because of his inactivity, age, and lack of promotion,
he isn’t afforded the same courtesy given by the powers that be. Spadafora is currently promoted by Roy Jones’s Square Ring Promotions and TNT Promotions. Neither is known to be a big force in the sport of boxing and it is doubtful that they have enough influence to get Paul Spadafora the big fight he deserves. At this point in his career he is all risk, no reward for anyone atop the divisions. Anyone who doubts that he still has “it,” should track down video of some of his recent non-televised performances (if possible).
Paul Spadafora is the real life “Rocky story”. He is a guy with raw, God-gifted talent who stumbled along the way and never realized his true potential. He is running out of time and has repeatedly called out Floyd Mayweather Jr.(who was considering Spadafora for his May 2011 fight), Danny Garcia, and virtually anyone else with a belt. Boxing is supposed to be the one sport that offers redemption to a down-and-out fighter. This is what is SUPPOSED to separate boxing from other sports but rarely does anymore. I’ve always loved that boxing is the one sport that an underdog on hard times can turn things around with a big win no matter how improbable.
The problem today is that politics rule everything in boxing and fans are dictated to by the corporate tyrants who control the sport. It is not okay for Andre Berto to get endless TV time and huge paydays for fighting guys like Freddy Hernandez. While a more talented Paul Spadafora is stuck fighting the same level opposition in regional casinos without a TV camera in sight.
The moral of the story is this: do NOT sleep on Paul Spadafora! Hardcore boxing fans need to be vocal and demand the fights that we want to see. Social media has changed the landscape of the sport and given fans a voice. Tha Boxing Voice is a perfect example of how an organic social media movement can blossom into an outlet for fans to express their views and opinions which in-turn gives it traction. We don’t need Max Kellerman or Dan Rafael telling us what fights matter or who is relevant in each division. If you want to see someone step-up and give Paul Spadafora a shot, then call into the
show and speak on it, tweet about, blog about, etc., because time is running out and there are questions that need answered!