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State commission limits boxers' standard after official weigh-in

Saturday, May 06, 2000

By Chuck Finder, Post-Gazette Sports Writer

Paul Spadafora stripped to the altogether yesterday evening in a Pittsburgh Hilton and Towers ballroom and stepped on a scale at 135 pounds. Mike Griffith, wearing his skivvies and ever-present baseball cap -- "I guess I'll have to take it off for the fight" -- weighed in at 1341/2 pounds.

 
Paul Spadafora (left) along with Michael Griffith mug for the camera after weigh ins at the Pittsburgh Hilton. (Peter Diana, Post-Gazette) 

Then Pennsylvania State Athletic Commissioner and Association of Boxing Commissions President Greg Sirb dismissed the two boxers with some simple advice:

Eat responsibly.

Be back on the scale at 8 a.m. Saturday.

In a sport weighed by recent controversy, Sirb and the state commission adopted a standard that attempts to turn these day-before-the-fight exercises into something resembling the scales of ring justice.

Boxers in a Pennsylvania-staged championship fight must check in the morning of their bout carrying no more than 10 pounds above their weigh-in.

So Spadafora, the International Boxing Federation lightweight champion from McKees Rocks, can step in as much as 145 pounds this morning and Griffith, the challenger from Lorain, Ohio, as much as 1441/2.

If they surpass this weight only a few hours before their HBO-televised "KO Nation" feature fight on the seven-bout card that begins at 4 p.m. inside Mellon Arena?

 
 

 

Paul SpadaforaMike Griffith
McKees RockshometownLorain, Ohio
29-0, 14 KOsrecord23-6, 9 KOs
5-9height5-7
135weight134 1/2
14 1/2neck14
72reach68

   
 

"No fight. It's real simple," Sirb said.

"We put this in place about four, five months ago," he said of the new policy, instituted long before welterweight Arturo Gatti gained 19 pounds after his Friday weigh-in and pounded Joey Gamache into retirement in the second round of an HBO-televised fight Feb. 26. "We've done it for three championship fights right now, and it's going very well. The average guy is gaining seven to eight pounds on the average.

"There isn't a big spread."

At least, not 19 pounds big.

Sirb, a former wrestler and respected figure in professional boxing, was part of the panel that investigated the Gatti situation with the New York State Athletic Commission -- which now requires day-of-fight weigh-ins. He and his ABC group, the governing body over state boxing commissions, will have a committee meeting at their July convention to discuss possible widespread implementation of similar rules.

"This will get a lot of attention," Sirb said. "There's a lot of controversy out there.

"We've been looking at this for over a year, and this is what we thought would be good," he said. "Most fighters want a weigh-in the night before, so they can feel good, eat good, sleep good. We do, too. But we want them to be responsible for their weight gain, which is why we weigh them in again. Try not to pig out and abuse the system, put on 15, 20 pounds and take advantage of it.

"It gives it a little check and balance."

Griffith (23-6) knows. He traveled to Dublin, Ireland, for acritical fight last summer, only to find the guy who stepped into the ring better resembled the larger twin brother of Shea Neary, who weighed in the day before the fight.

 
 
Notebook: Spadafora featured as 'pounder'

   
 

The heavyweights on the HBO undercard don't have to follow the Pennsylvania policy. There are two reasons for that: The heavyweight division is open-ended -- Lamon Brewster (23-0) was 226 pounds and Cliff Etienne (15-0) was 2191/2 -- and this bout isn't a championship fight.

The rest of the card combatants don't have to step on the scales again today, either. Those bouts include such local boxers as heavyweight Willie Phillips of Sharon, welterweight Richie Felsing of North Side, cruiserweight Tim Williamson of Wilkinsburg, Lou Bizzaro Jr. of Erie and Joey Bullock of Youngstown, Ohio.

Although the card begins at 4 p.m., the "KO Nation" telecast doesn't hit the air until 5:30 p.m. -- about the same time the Kentucky Derby finishes. Thus, the Brewster-Etienne heavyweight undercard is expected to begin around 5:45 p.m. and Spadafora-Griffith after 6:30 p.m.

Tickets still are available.



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