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Sports

Spadafora may have to wait for Mayweather

Kevin Gorman
| Tuesday, April 23, 2002

Paul Spadafora's wait for the colossal payday that would come with a fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr. might have suffered a setback Saturday, when Mayweather beat Jose Luis Castillo in a controversial decision that screams for a rematch.

Spadafora, the International Boxing Federation lightweight champion, was at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas to watch the World Boxing Council title fight. Mayweather won by unanimous decision, but many boxing observers, including HBO's announcers, believed it to be a hometown ruling and that Castillo should have retained his belt.

"Paul was mostly surprised," Spadafora promoter Michael Acri said Monday. "He thought Castillo was strong, but he wasn't that impressed. It gave him some confidence that he could beat either of them. It really didn't affect Paul fighting Mayweather because even if they have a rematch, Paul wasn't going to fight him until late fall.

"We were fighting the winner, anyway."

Acri was hoping to land Spadafora (35-0, 14 KOs) of McKees Rocks a date with Mayweather (28-0, 20 KOs) by December. Mayweather, who has a six-fight, $15.75-million contract with HBO and Top Rank, commanded a $2.2 million purse; Castillo received $1.1 million.

Castillo, however, said that Top Rank promoter Bob Arum promised him a rematch that could come as early as this summer, perhaps in August and HBO analyst George Foreman said it is worthy of pay-per-view. A rubber match also could be in the picture,

"That puts him on the back burner for a while," said trainer Emmanuel Steward, who was part of HBO's broadcast crew for Spadafora's title defense against Angel Manfredy on March 9. "I thought Castillo won the fight. I don't know where Paul stands right now."

Mayweather has publicly talked about "going after Spadafora," who reportedly got the better of him during a sparring session three years ago while training for his title defense against Renato Cornett. It's unlikely that Mayweather, if victorious, would be willing to fight Castillo and Spadafora back-to-back in such a short span.

Acri said Spadafora will fight in the interim, but he must weigh his plans to move up to the junior welterweight division (140 pounds) against waiting for the chance to earn a million-dollar paycheck against the Mayweather-Castillo winner. The 5-foot-9 Spadafora has struggled to maintain his fighting weight of 135 pounds and said he wanted to move up within six months after scoring a unanimous decision over Manfredy. "It definitely does push the timetable back," Acri said. "Paul has to buckle down and control his eating habits."

Acri said Spadafora will fight in July or August, possibly in a non-title bout or at 140 pounds.

"He's going to fight this summer for sure," Acri said. "I just don't know who, where or when."

There's even a chance Spadafora could fight as a co-feature on the same card as the Mayweather-Castillo rematch.

"That's a possibility, too," Acri said. "We'd obviously like to have our own date."

Preferably against Mayweather.

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