Whitaker training Spadafora an interesting pairing

Former lightweight titlist Paul Spadafora has certainly had enough drama to last him a lifetime. His legal problems have been well-documented, most of them stemming from an incident in which he shot the mother of his child (she lived and they reconciled for a short time) and served prison time.

And Spadafora has admitted to a drinking problem that has undoubtedly taken its toll. There also have been injuries.

The legal issues prompted a two-year layoff from mid-2004 to mid-2006. And after Spadafora (41-0-1, 16 KOs) finally returned, he fought just once each in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

The amazing part is that the Pittsburgh Kid is still undefeated. The lone blemish on his record was the draw in a 135-pound unification fight with Leonard Dorin, a terrific and bloody battle on HBO that took its toll on both men.

Now a junior welterweight, Spadafora has had a number of bouts scheduled over the past year or so that were eventually called off because of injuries. He's scheduled to fight again on June 24 in his hometown of Pittsburgh against Ivan Bustos (27-12-3), a journeyman from Argentina.

What will be new for Spadafora is that he has hired 2008 Hall of Fame inductee Pernell Whitaker to train him.

"I'm looking forward to working with Paul, and I know I can add to his game," Whitaker said.

Whitaker, a former four-division champion (135, 140, 147 and 154) now trying to launch a second career as a chief second, surely will understand Spadafora's style. When he fought, Whitaker also was a guy with little power who relied on defense and smarts to get the job done.

"Pernell was one of my idols growing up, and I know we are going to make a good team," Spadafora said.

Like Spadafora, Whitaker has also had enough drama in his life to last forever. He also knows the difficulties of trying to stay sober, having struggled with a drug problem for years. Besides working on boxing together, maybe Whitaker and Spadafora can help each other continue to stay clean. Now wouldn't that be a great story if Whitaker could help lead Spadafora back to a title?