Pittsburgh Sports Report
January 2005

Mad World
Spadafora Fighting His Own Battle
By Mark Madden

Paul Spadafora is going to prison. He has admitted to shooting his girlfriend.

I doubt he fears prison. He's probably seen it as a destination his whole life.

Spadafora is a bad kid from a bad part of town. His troubles are mostly a matter of public record, although who knows how many indiscretions were swept under the rug because of his "status" as an alphabet-soup world champion.

I don't blame Spadafora for his plight. Spadafora is simply not intelligent, so any way out of the gutter was going to be temporary, even a lightweight title.

I blame the people around Spadafora.

I've always said that Spadafora's management and entourage were most interested in picking his pockets, not keeping him alive/out of jail.

The proof has added up. After all of Spadafora's incidents - public drunkenness, urinating on a street, reckless endangerment, disorderly conduct, bailing out a cocaine dealer, allegedly choking and spitting on a former gal pal - the immediate goal of those who handled Spadafora was getting him back in the ring.

He's the Pittsburgh Kid. Get him back in the ring.

Paul fights for the people of Pittsburgh. Get him back in the ring.

Mayweather and Gatti? They're scared of Paul. Get him back in the ring.

Getting Spadafora back in the ring was the plan even when he was out on bail after shooting Nadine Russo. The dateline doesn't lie.

Russo was shot in October, 2003. It was the capper on a veritable spree of reckless/illegal behavior by Spadafora. Yet there he was in the ring last April, winning by decision over Ruben Galvan before announcing his intention to be clean and sober. Then his bond was revoked when he tested positive for cocaine, and Spadafora went to jail.

A ring was the last place Spadafora needed to be. He needed to be in rehab. In anger management. In a rubber room. Anywhere but someplace where he could justify acting out on all his demons. Anywhere but in a ring, or on the street.

Yet, those two places were where Spadafora always ended up.

Spadafora's management and entourage knew about his addictions. His problems. His lack of mental stability/capability. They weren't blind.

But there's one problem with having your meal ticket someplace where he can get some help. You don't get your percentage. You don't get perks. You don't see your name in the paper.

Sure, he's going to end up behind bars sooner or later. So it's best to get what you can, while you can.

Sad footnote: Spadafora's management didn't even get him much glory in exchange for his freedom. He goes to prison never having had a significant fight.

Spadafora's sentencing is set for Feb. 14. Happy Valentine's Day.

Spadafora could get as many as 17 years. Even if he gets a lesser sentence, his boxing career is done.

The big question is this: With Spadafora behind bars, how will his "people" get their fix of money and headlines?

What is Spadafora's promoter, Mike Acri, going to do? Or his manager, Alan McCauley? Or all the blood-sucking leeches that clung to Spadafora like a stubborn piece of used toilet tissue? Heck, who's going to bail out the coke dealer?

Some might say that Spadafora was beyond help. That him going inside was inevitable. That may be true.

But what's certain is this: No one tried to help Spadafora at the expense of helping themselves.

Those involved with Spadafora always presented boxing as the best alternative.

Boxing should have been the carrot on Spadafora's stick. Straighten yourself out, Paul, and you can get back in the ring. But you've got to straighten yourself out first.

It can be argued that boxing was all Spadafora had.

But what's he got now?

Mark Madden hosts a sports talk show 3-7 p.m. weekdays on ESPN Radio 1250.


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