Nestled atop a hill that is only accessible by a winding, gravel road, with cliffs on one side that plunge into the Monongahela River and miles of trees on the other, you will find "The Pittsburgh Kid." The farms and cows indicate he is pretty far from Pittsburgh, but Paul Spadafora would rather be here than anywhere else.
This junior welterweight has been training high above the village of Granville in California, Pa., at Buzz Jr.'s Round Two boxing gym for about five weeks. In the back of the gym is a small room that has become his training camp home. He eats and sleeps at the gym.
Spadafora is staying at the gym for one reason.
"I'm up here to make this the biggest comeback ever," he said.
Trainer Tom Yankello noticed how the change of surroundings affected his fighter.
"He's really focused for this fight. The whole agenda was to really isolate him from any outside distractions and just get him totally focused and this is a great place for that," Yankello said.
Yankello makes the hourlong drive every day to meet his fighter before returning to Ambridge to work with the rest of his fighters.
Yankello believes the slow and steady approach to Spadafora's comeback has paid off.
"All the way around he has improved," Yankello said. "He is a sharper puncher. His defense is better. He is in better shape than he was last time. He has become a better fighter. I think he has improved every fight. In eight months he has had three fights, which is pretty good. As you stay active you get better."
Spadafora (47-0-1, 19 KOs) fights Saturday for the vacant NABF Super Lightweight championship. He will face Robert Frankel (32-12-1, 6 KOs) of Denver. Frankel is coming off back-to-back victories including a win against Jermaine White, whom Spadafora recently beat.
Spadafora is ready to force the issue Saturday.
"I want to be more aggressive. Throw my hands more," Spadafora said.
Also featured on the card is welterweight Billy Hutchinson (5-1-2, 3 KOs). He will face veteran Damon Antoine (11-45-2, 5 KOs).
Yankello, Hutchinson's trainer, expects a great fight.
"Billy is a really exciting fighter," he said. "He is a boxer-puncher, but he is the kind of guy that is always aggressive. [Antoine], I know he is definitely a tough guy. He has not been knocked down too many times. So we expect a tough fight."
Local super welterweight Joey Holt (2-0, 2 KOs) will be returning to action as well as he faces Austin Marcum (4-2, 2 KOs).
Yankello thinks his man, Holt, will have the upper hand in this fight.
"Joey has been off to a great start," he said. "The guy he is fighting is supposed to be a pretty tough kid."
The final local fight on the card gives heavyweight Ed Latimore a tough test in his second pro fight as he faces Donnie Crawford.
Yankello likes what he has seen out of his heavyweight.
"Latimore is looking really good in the gym. He is off to a really good start as well," Yankello said.
Spadafora has a chance to win a title for the first time since 2003.
"All of the work is behind you," Spadafora said. "You have put in all of the work leading up to this night. Now I just want to enjoy it."
• Base ticket prices are VIP starting at $100, Section A $50, Section B $35 and bleachers $25, plus service fee. Tickets can be purchased at Mountaineer Casino's Players Club in person or by calling 1-800-804-0468, Ext. 8297 or online at www.MOREatMountaineer.com or www.Etix.com. Parking is free, and the first pro bout is set to begin at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.mobilehome - sportsother