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Boxer Paul Spadafora hires 'Sweet Pea' as trainer

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Thursday, June 4, 2009, 12:00 p.m.

McKees Rocks boxer Paul Spadafora will have one of his "idols" in his corner when he returns to the ring June 24 at the Amphitheatre at Station Square.

The former International Boxing Federation lightweight champion has hired as his trainer Hall of Famer Pernell "Sweet Pea" Whitaker, a 1984 Olympic gold medalist who had a 40-4-1 record and won world titles in four weight classes over a 17-year pro career. Whitaker had a reputation as one of the slickest defensive fighters in the sport.

"Pernell was one of my idols growing up and I know we are going to make a good team," Spadafora said in a news release.

Spadafora (41-0-1) will fight Ivan Bustos (27-12-3), of Buenos Aires, Argentina, in a 10-round junior welterweight bout.

Whitaker replaces Hall of Fame trainer Jesse Reid, who left to replace Monessen native Michael Moorer as the chief assistant to trainer Freddie Roach. Roach, who is suffering from Parkinson's disease, is the trainer for pound-for-pound champion Manny Pacquiao.

"I'm looking forward to working with Paul," Whitaker said in the statement, "and I know I can add to his game."

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