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May 19, 2009
Known as “The KO Kid” for his aggressive in ring style and punching power, light heavyweight Joey Spina (24-1, 17 KOs), who is currently rated by all four major sanctioning bodies, No. 12 by the WBC and WBA, No. 13 by the WBO, and No. 15 by the IBF, looks to move to the next level as he is scheduled to take on veteran Tiwon Taylor (26-14-1, 19 KOs) in the main event of Classic Entertainment and Sports “Rage at the River” event this coming Friday night at the Twin River Events Center in Lincoln, RI. The rugged Italian-American from Providence has won his last four since suffering the only loss of his career in 2006 to cross-town rival, Peter Manfredo, Jr., in which, Spina suffered a broken left thumb in the early in the fight. FightNews had an opportunity to speak with Spina about his career, his comeback from his loss to Manfredo, his opponent, and his future.
You fought to a perfect (19-0-1) record during the first half of your career as you scored big wins against ring veterans such as Carl Daniels, Jay Pina, and Jesse Brinkley among others. Then in October 2006 you experienced the first loss of your career against Providence cross-town rival Peter Manfredo Jr. Can you tell us what went through your mind following that experience?
Well I never thought that I would lose. Peter Manfredo Jr. is a great fighter but I never thought that I would lose to him. Prior to going into the fight, I had a hurt hand and during the fight I broke my hand. It just didn’t feel too good to take that first defeat because I never thought that I would ever taste defeat.
You have been quoted in the media as saying that felt ‘discouraged’ since the Manfredo Jr. fight. Are you still bothered by the defeat or have you been able to move past that setback and learn from it?
Well I definitely learned from it but the only thing is that it took me a long time to get over that. I am past that now. I am a better fighter and I never want to feel like that again. And no matter what happens, I would rather die in the ring than quit a fight if I got hurt myself so I made a lot of changes, learned a lot from it, and I feel a lot better now.
After an almost one year layoff, you returned to the ring and easily dispatched of journeyman Shannon Miller in four rounds. How did you feel after competing in your first fight back?
Well you know I was ready to fight. I had a little nervous energy especially being my first fight back fighting in Las Vegas in front of the Vegas crowd. I thought it would be different. I went in there and Shannon quit.
You were active in 2008 as you fought twice in two months against Henry Mayes and then David Whittom. Although you were victorious both times by decision, you were not able to stop either of them when many expected that you would. Did you still have the same passion and desire to fight then or was there another reason?
Well the reason was that I had a lot of ring rust then. When I was out in Vegas, I just went out there swinging. In the Henry Mayes fight I sort of held him back and didn’t do what I was supposed to do in the fight. I was just laid back a little bit and I didn’t let my hands fly like I should have.
In the David Whittom fight, well that guy was one tough dude. He caught me off guard and came out firing punches. He kind of stunned me a little bit, but I had to dig down deep just to get a win out of that fight. The gentleman caught me off balance and off guard and threw fast and hard. If I didn’t drop him, cut him, and hurt him, then the fight would have went either way. If I were to fight him now, I would knock him out in two rounds.
Late last year you have returned to form by stopping both of your last two opponents, within the first two rounds, as you displayed the power and hand speed that got you the nickname of “The KO Kid.” What would you attribute to your resurgence as a fighter?
Well I got the ring rust off. I got the ring rust off. I was hesitant to throw punches and now I am not hesitant. That’s all it really was. I just did not let my hands go. I just didn’t stop them. That’s all. On Friday night I am going to stop Taylor .
Both prior to and after the Manfredo Jr. fight, you have always been a world rated fighter, both in the super middleweight and now in the light heavyweight divisions. Do you feel that there are fighters out there ducking you in the light heavyweight division?
No not really. I don’t think that there is anybody out there ducking anyone in the division right now. This sport is a real hard sport. It is really like a game of chess, it is who the next move is to get to the next level.
Are you frustrated that you have not had the opportunity for a bigger fight, or are you content quietly climbing the ladder so that some time in the near future the top of the division has no choice but to face you in the ring?
Well you know if you keep on winning then you will end up fighting world class guys. I was supposed to fight one of the title holders. I am not going to say who, but I got an offer to fight him. I have got to come through with this fight. I would love to fight one of the top guys out there. I would love to fight Carl Froch. I would like to fight Jaidon Codrington. Those are the type of guys that I would like to fight myself, but whatever happens, happens.
So are you saying that if you are successful in your bout on Friday night that you will end up fighting against the title holder you do not want to mention by name?
Well you know if the money is right, then the fight will happen. If the money is not right, then it isn’t going to happen. They made an offer and the offer was way off for the world title. The amount of money was way off and to come back with the offer. I am not trying to be greedy. I just want what I deserve to fight for a world title. If they come back with the right amount of money, then the fight will happen. That is what my goal is, and the people offering that fight will hopefully see that. I am ready to go. I am ready to fight if the money is right. I will show them why I am “The KO Kid.”
You have a new manager now as you have signed with Eddie Imondi to handle your business affairs outside of the ring. Can you tell us how this relationship came about and how his guidance will help you in the future?
Eddie Imondi is a great gentleman. I have known him for about fifteen years. This gentleman is a big time promoter from back in the day. He was the man behind Jimmy Burchfield. He was the head guy. He has done some major shows. All four of his fighters he has managed to fights for the world title. None of them have won it, but they all have fought for the world title. That is one of the reasons why I have signed with Eddie Imondi. He is just as much of a gentleman inside of the ring as he is outside of the ring.
Once again you have joined forces with the great Eddie Mustapha Muhammad as he will be working with you in your corner once again. Was there a brief period of time that you stopped working with him?
No I work with Eddie Mustapha Muhammad and I also work with another gentleman, Jose Santos who has worked with me for about five to six years now. He has been my first for the last couple of fights. It is just when I am ready to step up to the bigger fighters, then I will be working with Eddie Mustapha Muhammad. When I am fighting next level opposition, I go into the ring with Jose.
Your next bout coming up this Friday will be against veteran Tiwon Taylor (26-14-1, 19 KOs ). What do you know about your opponent?
I know nothing. I know that he can punch, he has 19 knockouts. I know he is a big puncher but other than that I know nothing. Do you know anything about him?
Although he has 14 losses, he also has 19 knockouts as well, are you concerned at all with his punching power?
I am not concerned with anyone’s punching power. I have a great chin and I can throw a punch. Somebody with that many knockouts, he is going to want to trade with me. He is going to want to hang and bang with me, so whoever can trade the most will win the fight.
How do you think the fight will end up playing out in the ring on Friday night?
I stop him in three.
How has your training camp progressed leading up to the fight?
Well I stopped three out of four sparring partners in camp. I box a lot of rounds. I do a lot of pad work, bag work, sparring, and calisthenics. The weight is pretty good. I have to lose a couple of pounds before the fight and that is it. After this fight I am going back to 168. If the money is right and the fight happens, I will be at 168 pounds in my next fight.
By stopping three out of four of your sparring partners, do you find it difficult to find more sparring partners?
Well I spar with the right sparring partners. I am looking for guys that are going to fight exactly like the guy I am fighting where they are going to be punchers that stand in front of you and trade shots not guys that run around and box you. This gentleman that I am fighting should be a guy that is going to stand there and trade with me.
Your promoter, Jimmy Burchfield of CES was quoted as saying, “this is a new Joey Spina. He’s always had talent but now Joey has a new team to take care of his business with me. It’s like family.” What has it meant for you and for your career to have this family behind you supporting you along the way?
I got people that are showing me that they actually care, with my trainer, with Eddie as my manager, and with Jimmy. Boxing is very frustrating when you are not making the money that you deserve to make. However much money I make, I could go work a full time job and make that much money. That is one of the downfalls of it. Right now I have a good team behind me and they are doing everything and I am doing everything that I can to get myself a world title shot. I am devoting my time and faith in these people, and I know they are going to do their part and I am going to do mine.
Is there anything else you would like to mention to your fans here at FightNews.com?
I would like to thank FightNews for the interview opportunity today. I challenge every one of those guys that I called out earlier, and that they should know I am for real. They call me “The KO Kid” because I am one of the most powerful punchers in the world.
Tickets for “Rage At the River” are priced at limited $25.00 SRO, $35.00, $45.00 (Bronze), $65.00 (Silver), $100.00 (Gold - includes a free $15.00 play that night at Twin River) and limited $150.00 (Jimmy’s Platinum Club - includes a free $25.00 play that night at Twin River) and are available to purchase by calling CES (401.724.2253/2254), going on line at www.cesboxing.com or www.twinriver.com, at Twin River’s Players Club booth, or any TicketMaster location.
Contact CES (401.724.2253/2254/www.cesboxing.com) or Twin River Event Center (877.82.RIVER/ www.twinriver.com) for more information. Doors open at 6::00 PM/ET, first bout at 7:00 PM/ET.
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