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Paul Spadofora vs. Floyd Mayweather: The Legendary Sparring Session with Jesse Reid

The crooked and misshapen nose tells a story of a guy who has survived decades in a business known for double crosses. It is a tough guy's nose, one that speaks to a willingness to throw down over slights real or imagined.

There's more to Jesse Reid than that nose, but it's a good place to start. He's fiercely loyal, sticking with fighters who have nothing and no one left. He has trained 23 world champions, and there's little left for him to prove in the sport. But Reid still wants one more. Just one more championship to make it 24, one more fighter to bring from the bottom to the top. There aren't many chances left for a guy who just turned 74. But Reid is still a teacher, and he doesn't believe he's taught his last lesson, or his last champion.

Of the many lessons that Reid has taught, and the many fighters who've learned from them, one tends to come up more often than others. That's the one he delivered to the youngest member in the first family of boxing, a budding superstar and box office bonanza named Floyd Mayweather Jr.

For all the thousands of fights broadcast on television over the years, hundreds of thousands more have taken place in boxing gyms behind closed doors, in front of spectators who know to hold their tongues. Here, the shouting matches and choreographed feuds are replaced by real grudges and an earnest will to deliver hurt. Most of these fights slip from memory, if they ever even make it there. But some linger forever.

This was one of those ones that lingered, and a moment when Mayweather would learn his first real lesson in the ring. He'd been goading Reid and his fighter Paul Spadafora, a boxer who would never dazzle with speed or power, but possessed elite technique. Spadafora stepped into the ring that day in 1999 an undefeated lightweight champion, with a title he'd earned through durability and meanness.

Just ahead of a big payday, Reid thought the sparring session was a bad idea for Spadafora. A cut could erase their next paycheck, and make fools of them both. But neither was in the habit of letting a grudge go, and both wanted to shut the mouth of the young fighter who would one day name himself "The Best Ever."

Neither Reid nor Mayweather have ever forgotten it. "It's the reason he's never out of shape," Reid said. "And [why] he never lets people tape his sparring."


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