For some boxers, the most enduring battles are the ones that take place outside the ring.
Undefeated junior welterweight Paul Spadafora (45-0, 19 KO) feels undefeated in life despite some serious setbacks.
Spadafora, 37, is currently training in Miami and in a treatment program for alcohol and substance abuse. The former world lightweight champion is teaming with trainer Buddy McGirt, who was a star welterweight himself, with his sights set on a boxing comeback.
Spadafora suffered a series of setbacks in his personal life which greatly affected his boxing career. His father died of a drug overdose when he was a child and he has battled alcoholism. This has lead him to unfortunate legal issues.
The Pittsburgh Kid, who grew up in the city's rough McKees Rocks neighborhood known as The Bottoms, has a wealth of success in the ring to fall back on. In 1999, he earned the vacant IBF lightweight belt in a 12-round bout against Israel Cardona (36-10, 28KO), winning in a unanimous decision. He defended his belt seven times before he relinquished it to move up in weight in 2003.
During this time, Spadafora ran into legal matters and getting arrested due to alcohol related incidents. He pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and served time in Pennsylvania prison for a shooting incident with his girlfriend.
After his release he tried to get back in the ring and to stay active. The 5'9 fighter with the southpaw stance has some bouts in the past four years, but hasn't had a professional fight since Nov. 2010.
Now, Spadafora is preparing for another bout this summer. The opponent is unnamed but he isn't shy to say who he wants.
I have never been this confident in my boxing game, said Spadafora. All I wanna do is fight the best -- [Floyd] Mayweather, [Manny] Pacquiao. I believe I could do that.
His motivation comes from his life experiences. His long life of ups and down have served as powerful lessons that he feels that only he can fully understand.
How can you tell me to recover when you were never hurt? said Spadora. How can you tell me about being in a penitentiary if you were never in a penitentiary? And how can you tell me what the canvas feels like if you were never knocked out?
Spadafora is also a father of three children and wants to show them that it is possible to make something from nothing. I want to show other kids too. And I want to train young southpaw fighters.
Spadafora believes he is at a positive place -- physically and mentally.
I want to give myself an honest and sober second chance this time, Spadaroa said. I owe it to myself.