Forever Fighting: Dealt a murderous hand from day one, Paul Spadafora has no choice but to fight

By Matt Christie

“YOU can’t go around being blacked out drunk with a pistol. It’s dumb, it’s irresponsible, it’s fucking bullshit,” says Pittsburgh’s Paul Spadafora, the former IBF lightweight champion who when blacked out drunk in 2003 shot his future wife with a pistol.

Today, with his skin aglow, he looks terrific. His dark mane is brushed back to reveal an impressive hairline, his neck shows off the kind of veins that suggest he’s exercising regularly and his slats – those muscley bits between the shoulder blades and neck – tighten his t-shirt.

It’s 9am in Las Vegas. He lies on his sofa and we talk for an hour. His voice is croaky, so much so it sounds like he needs to clear his throat, but it turns out the gruffness is a permanent fixture and the cough is not required. Towards the end of our chat – probably the wrong word given what’s divulged – it’s clear he’s excited to get to work. It will involve coaching young fighters – “seven or eight” of them, including his son, Gino – at his nearby gym that he opened last year.

He trains hard himself, doing 12 rounds first thing before passing on his years of experience to his pupils. His dream is to make a world champion from scratch. He talks passionately – and at length – about his methods. At the age of 49, eleven years after this last fight, Spadafora is clearly taking care of himself.

It hasn’t always been this way. It might not always be this way.

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