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BOXING Spadafora sentenced for shooting fiancee



Published: Thu, February 24, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The former lightweight champ could be out of jail in six months.

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Former lightweight boxing champion Paul Spadafora was sentenced to up to five years in state prison for shooting his fiancee 16 months ago, but he could get out in as little as six months if he completes a boot-camp program.

The 21- to 60-month sentence closes the most serious chapter of alcohol- or drug-fueled legal problems for Spadafora, 29, of McKees Rocks. The relatively lenient sentence could enable Spadafora to resume a still-promising career.

In asking for leniency, Spadafora told Allegheny County Judge Jeffrey Manning that he needs one last chance to lick his drinking problem.

"If you just could give me just a little chance, I'll make you so proud, I'll make this whole city proud by doing the right thing for my [fiancee] and my son," Spadafora said.

Spadafora in December pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and a weapons violation in the shooting of Nadine Russo, 22, who has since given birth to their 2-month-old son, Geno. Spadafora was upset that she flattened two tires while driving his Hummer and shot Russo once with a .38-caliber Smith & amp; Wesson handgun on Oct. 26, 2003.

On Wednesday, Assistant District Attorney Ed Borkowski withdrew the weapons charge saying authorities have since learned Spadafora likely had a license to carry the gun.

Uncertain future

Spadafora's promoter, Michael Acri, of Erie, said there are no concrete plans for Spadafora to fight again.

"Really, it's beating alcohol abuse, it's not about career plans at this point," Acri said. "But he's just 29, there is time for him to get his career back."

In July, Spadafora stopped Francisco Campos in the third round to win his second straight fight since moving up to junior welterweight. Spadafora, who is undefeated, had given up his IBF lightweight (135-pound) title in 2003 so he could move up to the junior welterweight division, where it would be easier to maintain his weight.

Before agreeing to give Spadafora one last chance to stay clean, Manning expressed concerns that Russo blamed herself for the shooting.

Manning noted that Russo called the shooting "an accident" and told pre-sentence investigators that it wouldn't have happened had she not ruined the tires.




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