Spadafora plans to put power on display
Tom Yankello opened the YouTube video and watched in wonder as Paul Spadafora followed four jabs with a sharp, overhand left that caused his sparring partner's knees to buckle as he dropped to the canvas.
“In all the years I've been with him, I'd never seen him do that,” said Yankello, who has trained the former IBF lightweight champion off and on since the late 1990s out of his World Class Gym in Ambridge.
“Paul is the strongest and healthiest he's been as a professional. He's sitting down on his punches harder than he ever has. He knocked out somebody in a sparring session with one punch.”
Spadafora (46-0-1, 19 KOs) isn't predicting a stoppage against Solomon Egberime (22-3-1, 11 KOs) in a junior welterweight bout Saturday night at Mountaineer Casino Racetrack and Resort's The Harv in Chester, W.Va.
Spadafora is expecting a challenge from the Nigerian-born, Australia-based boxer. Yankello called Egberime a “formidable opponent” but described his orthodox style as “awkward” and “herky jerky.”
“Just his style alone is going to be hard on me,” said Spadafora, a slick southpaw. “He's an Olympian, a veteran. I'm old-school. I've seen him one time. I feel they've got to watch me. Whatever style they bring, we've got to adjust to it.”
Egberime is ranked No. 14 by the WBO, despite a defeat and a draw in his last four fights. He promises to be Spadafora's best opponent since his unification fight against Leonard Dorin ended in a draw in May 2003.
“When we scheduled the fight, he told us he was not going to be an ‘opponent,' ” promoter Troy Ridgely said. “He's not coming to be No. 47. He's coming to win.”
Luis Tapia, Egberime's Las Vegas-based trainer, called it “a great opportunity.” The winner could move into the top 10 of world rankings and be positioned for an eventual title bout.
“This guy was a pretty good fighter in his day,” promoter Roy Jones Jr. said. “He should be willing, ready and able to give Paul a good challenge.”
The card features a super featherweight rematch between Rankin's Monty Meza-Clay (33-3, 21 KOs) and Emmanuel Lucero (26-12-1, 14 KOs). Meza-Clay won their July 14 bout at Rivers Casino by majority decision.
“I believe this guy shouldn't have even been in the ring with me,” Meza-Clay said. “I'll get rid of him before the eighth round.”
The undercard includes Monaca super middleweight Morgan Fitch (7-0, 3 KOs) and a junior welterweight bout between Billy Hutchinson (4-1-2) of Sheraden and Jose Caraballo (5-4) of McKees Rocks.
Kevin Gorman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 412-320-7812.