By Keith Idec
Paul Spadafora would love to get an opportunity comparable to the one Austin Trout has promised to exploit Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.
Boxing’s modern-day “Pittsburgh Kid” thinks a bout between him and Brooklyn native Paulie Malignaggi makes perfect sense for the Barclays Center in April, when Malignaggi is expected to make the next defense of his WBA welterweight title there. For now, however, the former IBF lightweight champion is relegated to a lower-profile fight he hopes can help him get back into title contention.
While Miguel Cotto and Trout command most of the boxing world’s attention Saturday night, the 37-year-old Spadafora (46-0-1, 19 KOs) will encounter Nigeria’s Solomon Egberime (22-3-1, 11 KOs) in a 10-round, junior welterweight fight at Mountaineer Race Track in Chester, W. Va., a short drive from Pittsburgh. The Egberime bout will be Spadafora’s second fight in less than four months, following a nearly two-year layoff.
“This is a step up,” said Spadafora, who out-pointed Ecuador’s Humberto Toledo (41-8-2, 25 KOs) in an eight-rounder Aug. 18 at Mountaineer Race Track. “He’s a good boxer. He’s got a lot of speed. I’m looking at it like a counter-puncher and I’m going to walk him down. But I definitely feel that I had to fight a guy at this level to show the boxing people that I’m someone to talk about.”
Spadafora has fought just eight times over the past eight years due to stints in prisons, county jails and rehabilitation centers. But he says he has finally found peace, and he’s hoping a stable personal life leads him to the type of comeback he is certain he can complete.
“I feel great,” Spadafora said. “I want to be as active as I possibly can be. As long I’m healthy, I feel like I want to get this fight out of the way, get a win underneath my belt and hopefully get ready for something in February, if everything goes right. …It’s not one person that I would aim for. It’s anybody that’s somebody that will give me an opportunity. I would take my hat off to [that fighter] and would try to do my best to get the win.”
If that someone is Malignaggi, the undefeated Spadafora would welcome the chance to become a two-time world champion against a fellow Italian-American.
“I would love to have an opportunity to fight Paul,” Spadafora said. “That’s like a throwback fight. I would love to fight him in Brooklyn, for his title. That would be like a dream come true.
“Not only is he Italian, but he’s a two-time world champion. And I’ve won a world title. It’s hard to win a world title and keep it for five years. He won two titles. It’s hard to do what he did. I think that’d be a great night, for us to get together and mix it up.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.