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Spadafora adds ex-champ McGirt to corner for title fight

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Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013, 7:12 p.m.

McKees Rocks boxer Paul Spadafora will have a former two-time world champion working his corner for his world title fight next Saturday against Johan Perez.

James “Buddy” McGirt joined Spadafora's team Thursday at Buzz Garnic's Round 2 training camp in Coal Center. Longtime corner man Tom Yankello will remain the lead trainer, Spadafora said.

Spadafora (48-0-1, 19 knockouts) will fight Perez (17-1-1, 12 KOs) of Caracas, Venezuela, for the interim WBA light welterweight title Nov. 30 at Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort in Chester, W.Va.

“It's just for security and to have extra eyes on me,” Spadafora said of McGirt. “He's been there in the ring. He's proved himself as a fighter and proved himself as a trainer. I'm confident in bringing him in just for a backup plan.”

McGirt held the IBF light welterweight title in 1988 and the WBC welterweight belt from 1991-93. He has trained a dozen world champions, including Joel Casamayor, Vernon Forrest, Arturo Gatti and Antonio Tarver, and was named trainer of the year by the Boxing Writers Association of America in 2002.

Spadafora trained with McGirt for eight months while undergoing alcohol and drug rehabilitation at a treatment center in Miami, where McGirt said they “developed a relationship” and have stayed in touch.

“With a guy like this, you don't change him,” McGirt said. “You try to remind him of the little things to make him sharper than he is. I'm a team player. I believe the main thing at the end of the day is, it's not about the trainer; it's about the fighter.”

This isn't the first time Spadafora has had someone other than Yankello work his corner. In a move that caused friction in his camp, Jesse Reid was added in 1999, prior to Spadafora's fight with Israel “Pito” Cardona for the vacant IBF lightweight belt. Pernell Whitaker also worked Spadafora's corner for his comeback fight against Ivan Bustos in 2009.

McGirt and Yankello promised there would be no problems.

“It is exactly what it is, nothing more and nothing less,” Yankello said. “There is no conflict. There is no disrespect. We're here to bring out the best in Paul.”

Kevin Gorman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.

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