The “KO Kid” Joey Spina says that Peter Manfredo Jr. is a better boxer than him. He also says that he will defeat Manfredo Jr. this Saturday in Providence, Rhode Island.

The bout, the main even on a special ESPN “Contender” fight card, features two rivals who grew up less than a mile apart and are each world rated. Manfredo Jr., a finalist in the first “Contender” show will try to prove that Spina, 19-0-1 (14 KO), is merely a pretender and certainly no legitimate contender.

For his part, Spina loathes the moniker that Manfredo Jr. uses, “The Pride of Providence”, and insists he is the local boy who is about to do good. Fact of the matter is Manfredo Jr. doesn't even live in Providence. With 14 wins inside the distance, the “KO Kid” feels he has the heart and power to knock Manfredo Jr. right off the boxing block. He fought in the streets, he claims, not on a “lights, camera, action” set of some reality t.v. show like the Peter Jr.

While Manfredo Jr. had fought at the 160-pond Middleweight limit, he went down to 154 in order to win a few fringe Junior Middleweight titles and then appeared on the show that culminated last year. Since finishing with the “Contender” he lost another controversial decision to nemesis Sergio Mora, the Contender season one winner and then stepped up to Super Middle. That bout, a three round destruction of shop worn Scott “The Sandman” Pemberton, showed that Pemberton was damaged goods, and that maybe, just maybe, Manfredo Jr. could be a better, stronger fighter who is more comfortable at 168 pounds. Saturday we may find out definitively.

Spina knows that he is the puncher in the fight and that Manfredo Jr. is the better technical boxer, he also confesses that the “Contender” entrant also got the better of him earlier in sparring. Still, Spina has been doing battle at Super Middle for years, and actually started his career as a 175-pound Light Heavyweight. Through more dedicating to his craft Spina became better conditioned and sunk into the lower weight division comfortably. At 168 pounds he has beaten the likes of several respectable fighters such as Carl Daniels, Anwar Oshana and another former “Contender”, Jesse Brinkley. For Manfredo Jr. one does not have to look any further than the bout with Brinkley to believe Spina can be beaten, and Spina knows it.

The eleventh round TKO victory by Spina came in a close bout that he was losing before stopping Brinkley with a body shot. Spina did wear Brinkley down with his heavy blows and the war of attrition was eventually won by the bigger, naturally stronger fighter. The “KO Kid” highlights the fact that he carried his power so late in the fight as a great sign. Others may look at the fact the Brinkley has lost three of his past four fights and has generally been regarded as a career middleweight stepping up to super middle, and thus there are more questions than answers about Joey Spina. At the time of Spina's stoppage over Brinkley, he was trailing on all three cards – 97-93 twice and 96-94. Joey Spearman went the distance to earn a ten round Draw versus Spina last year, and while styles do make fights, Spearman is a fighter who is 5-6-1 in recent history. If Brinkley and Spearman can hang tough with Spina, surely Manfredo Jr. should fare well. Shouldn't he?

Well yes, he should. But Spina certainly wants something that Manfredo Jr. has and is hungry to get his share of the limelight. He feels he has earned it, not been handed it, and Saturday night will come down to which fighter is hungrier and wiling to pay the price to succeed. The bigger stronger fighter on Saturday will be the “KO Kid” and, as was the case against Brinkley, that could be the deciding factor in the fight.

But it won’t.

Peter Manfredo Jr. is a slick boxer with talent and under the guidance to Freddie Roach should be well capable of defeating a puncher, albeit a strong one, like Joey Spina. A big punch is a good start for Spina, and the 168-pound limit sure helps, but at this level claiming that you will win on heart and determination isn’t enough to overcome talent. Manfredo knows the magnitude of the bout and will be there until the end, and will have his arm raised after the final bell sounds.