South Xtra: Former sparring partners square off in Golden Gloves match
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Ali-Frazier. Hagler-Hearns. Tyson-Holyfield.
Although the first three boxing rivalries evoke memories of classic battles unfolding in the ring, for many Pittsburgh boxing insiders, the last pairing stirs up the same passion and fervor.
Scott Bradley of Baldwin and Mount Washington's Vinnie Macellaro will square off at 7 p.m. Saturday in the opening round of the Western Pennsylvania Golden Gloves tournament at the Holiday Inn on McKnight Road in Ross in the featured 165-pound bout.
"This is almost a perfect fight," Jim Cvetic, a long-time local boxing aficionado and director of the Western Pennsylvania Golden Gloves said. "Italian Vinnie versus Irish Scott. Don King and Bob Arum couldn't have picked two better fighters. When this is over, both fathers will have died a thousand deaths."
In addition to the clash of ethnicities, a number of subplots serve to enhance the rivalry.
Although the two have never traded blows in a sanctioned bout, Bradley and Macellaro spent their formative years sparring against each other as members of the Carrick Boxing Club.
Last year, following a Golden Gloves state crown, Macellaro parted ways with the Carrick gym and joined the Pittsburgh Boxing Club on Route 51. The relocation was sparked by a rift between his camp and those at the Carrick Boxing Club.
Despite the move, Macellaro and Bradley remain friends. Still, Macellaro said their camaraderie will be on hiatus Saturday night.
"We're still the best of friends," Macellaro said. "But he better have his head screwed on straight for the fight. In the ring, it's kill or be killed."
In order to avoid becoming a casualty in the ring, Macellaro will need to overcome a size disadvantage. Bradley measures in at 6 feet 1, while Macellaro tops out at 5-7.
The fight will also feature a contrast in boxing styles. The shorter Macellaro is likened to a boxer-brawler, while Bradley's approach is described by many as a pure boxer.
"Scott is a nice, slick boxer," Ted Mrkonja, Macellaro's trainer said. "But we're going into it with a game plan. We definitely are expecting to win."
Saturday's bout will mark the first time Bradley has climbed back into the ring since undergoing shoulder surgery in January 2010. His rehabilitation included a four-month stint in Las Vegas, training with several professional fighters at renowned boxing promoter Bob Arum's gym.
Bradley said a key to his success is to remain disciplined against the fiery slugger Macellaro.
"I'm going to have to stay on my game," Bradley said. "We've sparred over a hundred times together and I kind of know his style."
For 78-year-old ring veteran Bill Zaleta, who works with Bradley and is a virtual Pittsburgh boxing almanac, Bradley's game plan needs to remain simple.
"Scott is going to have to use a lot of jabs," Zaleta said. "He is tall and has a great jab. It's going to be a great fight. At my age I don't make it out to all the fights, but I won't miss this humdinger."
Saturday's Golden Gloves event is the first in a series of three bouts to determine who competes in the state tournament. Although the evening will highlight the Bradley-Macellaro showdown, the card features between 10 and 14 bouts with combatants ranging from 125 to 200 pounds.
Also fighting in the 165-pound category are North Siders Larry Blakey and Giovanni Caveliere. The winner of the Blakey-Caveliere fight will take on Jack Maine of Ellwood City. Aaron Cardonas of Bellevue will square off against the Bradley-Macellaro winner.
Both second round bouts are scheduled for March 25 at the Royal Place Restaurant in Overbrook.
Winners from the March 25 fights will take to the ring in the Western Pennsylvania Golden Gloves championship on April 2 at Saddle Ridge in Station Square.
The Western Pennsylvania champion will fight at the Pennsylvania Golden Gloves finals in Philadelphia on April 16. State winners qualify to fight at the national championship in Indianapolis from April 24 to May 1.
According to Cvetic, the impact of making a strong showing in the Golden Gloves is a lasting one.
"Winning the Golden Gloves is a huge accomplishment," Cvetic said. "It is something that you take with you the rest of your life."
Tickets for Saturday's event are $20 for general admission and $30 for Gold Ring seating. They can be purchased at the door or by calling Cvetic at (412) 298-7373. Proceeds are used to offset future transportation costs of winners in state and potentially national tournaments.
First Published March 10, 2011 12:00 am