By Bill "Two Scoops" Emes
The Pittsburgh Kid, Paul Spadafora (48-1-1) announced on Monday his ring return, which is slated for Friday July 11th at Pittsburgh’s Rivers Casino. Spadafora, who is coming off a disputed loss and the first of his professional career, is expected to take on rugged Mexican veteran Hector Velazquez (56-21-3).
“This is it” stated Spadafora from his Pittsburgh based training camp, where he has been back in training for the past three weeks. “I promised myself I’d make one last run, I have a lot left and I still believe I have what it takes to win one of these world titles. The landscape of the 140’s is wide open right now, and I feel if I put a few wins together I can be right back in the hunt.”
Spadafora has been sidelined for nearly six months, recovering from the broken nose he sustained in the interim WBA World light welterweight title loss to Johan Perez last November. However, rather than allowing the loss to send his once troubled life into turmoil once again, Spadafora remained focused on bouncing back, and once cleared by his doctor’s to resume his training, was back in the gym picking up right where he left off.
“I’m different now, I have a family, my kids, my girl to look after, I’m changed from becoming that old me.”
“I’ve watch the fight a good 10-15 times now and I know I won that fight”, Spadafora says with conviction in speaking about his lone loss. “Draw at worst, I could have done more, I could have let my hands go and been more aggressive, but I didn’t lose that fight and a rematch with Perez is what I want most right now.”
Perez is currently scheduled to face Danny Garcia and Ruslan Provodnikov nemesis Mauricio Herrera on the Canelo-Lara undercard on July 12th, and only time will tell if the rematch is in order. If Spadafora can’t secure the rematch with his lone conqueror, other recent opportunities have surfaced for The Pittsburgh Kid.
Spadafora's manager, Joe Horn was impressed with how Paul handled his first professional loss.
"It's hard on a variety of levels, particularly because he's battled demons in the past and he's stayed positive and determined to keep moving forward. Paul felt he let his city down when he lost, and I reminded him walking away with unfinished business would let them down, catching a loss wouldn't. Pittsburgh is a city of champions. It's a big responsibility to carry that. That's why it was important for Paul to come back smarter, more driven and more focused than ever."
Mike Tyson, who now heads up promotional upstart Iron Mike Productions, spoke from the site of his most recent fight card at the Turning Stone Resort in Verona, NY about pitting his young prospect Sammy Vasquez against Paul in an all-Pennsylvania interstate grudge match.
“I’m really proud of Sammy Vasquez. He’s an entertainer. I’d like to bring him back to Pennsylvania to fight Paul Spadafora, who is also a great fighter,” said Tyson. “Both fighters have big fan bases in that market and it would be a legendary fight in Pittsburgh.”
Spadafora welcomes Tyson’s challenge, but warns that Vasquez is currently campaigning in the Welterweight division.
“To make that fight, which I agree would sell out a large venue here in Pittsburgh and is a big TV fight, we’ll have to do something about the weight, a catchweight or something. Not only is Vasquez a welterweight, but he’s a big welterweight. Vasquez is a good kid with lots of power, and I think our styles would make a great fight.”
But before getting too ahead of things, Spadafora admits his sole focus right now is getting back in the win column on July 11th.
“I know in order to get where I want, I need to win, keep winning and look impressive doing it. That means being the more aggressive guy, and letting my hands go. I don’t have years left, I have fights left, and I know any misstep of any kind will derail any shot I have at competing at the world class level.”
Spadafora also took time to give credit to fellow Jr. Welterweight and now WBO champion, Chris Algieri. Spadafora sat ringside back in February of 2013 as Algieri took on hard hitting Jersey City brawler Jose Peralta Alejo at the Paramount in Algieri’s hometown of Huntington, Long Island. Spadafora recalls being impressed with Algieri’s use of combinations, speed and movement.
“I’m a big fan of Chris Algieri,” said Spadafora. “I knew he would beat that Russian easily, I even bet $200 on him, won $1000, can’t wait for it to get here... that kid’s got a great future ahead of him.”
As Spadafora heads into his final month of training camp for July 11th, he seems rejuvenated and at the same time conscious that father time is not on his side.
“I’ll always be involved in boxing, and look forward to training these young kids coming up, but right now I have work left to do, and that’s to grab one of these titles at 140.”