posted on May, 18 2003 @ 05:55 PM
Associated Press - May 17, 2003
PITTSBURGH - Paul Spadafora, outpunched most of the fight and never able to get any momentum going despite a vocal hometown crowd, and Leonard Dorin
fought to a draw Saturday night in a lightweight title unification fight.
Both fighters hoped the bout would be a springboard to a bout with WBC champion Floyd Mayweather that would unite all three titles, but the draw only
further muddles the division.
Dorin (20-0-1), the WBA champion, was 5 inches shorter but came out the aggressor and stayed that way much of the fight, landing far more punches -
and more damaging ones - in the early rounds.
Spadafora (36-0-1), the IBF champion who usually gets off to slow starts only to finish with a flurry, never seemed in danger of going down despite
being on the defensive most of the bout and came back in the later rounds with combinations and counter punches that scored.
Dorin, a two-time Olympic bronze medalist for Romania, opened a cut over Spadafora's right eye that bled most of the fight. Spadafora finally opened a
cut above Dorin's right eye in the 11th.
After the eighth, it appeared Spadafora might need to win the final four rounds to get even a draw, and those were his best rounds. He repeatedly
shook his head whenever Dorin landed a punch to indicate no damage was done.
By the 10th, Dorin was unable to do the damage along the ropes he did in the early rounds, when he was so effective that Spadafora's own corner was
yelling for him to keep moving.
When the bout ended, the crowd of about 7,000 in Pitt's basketball arena clearly seemed to think Spadafora - who calls himself the "Pittsburgh Kid,"
the same tag once given Billy Conn - would get the decision.
But judge Pat Russell of California scored it 115-113 Dorin, judge Gueremo Perez of Panama had it 115-114 Spadafora, and judge Gary Merritt of Indiana
had a 114-114 draw, the first time either fighter hasn't come out a winner in his pro career.
Dorin, 33, and Spadafora, 27, got $500,000 for the title unification fight, the largest payday for each fighter. Of Spadafora's nine fights since
becoming the IBF champion in August 1999, it was the eighth in Pittsburgh or the surrounding area.
Spadafora, who has admitted to having a less-than-dedicated approach at times, trained harder for this fight than any in his career. He sold his house
in McKees Rocks, only about two miles from downtown Pittsburgh, to reduce the temptations to party while in training. He worked out for 11 weeks in
two different Californias - six weeks in Los Angeles and five at a rural California, Pa., boxing camp.
Spadafora hoped a victory would elevate him into the upper echelon of lighter-weight boxers and push him closer to the seven-figure paydays that the
top champions make.
In the main preliminary bout, former U.S. Olympian Jermain Taylor won by technical knockout at 2:37 of the fourth round over Nicolas Cervera of
Colombia. Taylor dominated the fight, knocking Cervera down four times, three in the fourth round.