Matteo Papa was born on November 29, 1992 in Varese, an Italian city located approximately 30 miles northwest of Milan. As a toddler, Papa was very active and loved to fight. So, it’s of no surprise that Matteo was easily captivated by “Iron” Mike Tyson’s quick work of his opponent during a televised boxing match when he was around 7 years of age. The live exchange between the two heavyweights made a long-lasting impression on Papa, who attributes his journey in the sport to Tyson and has his portrait tattooed on his left calf.
From the start, Papa’s intentions were clear. Often sounding like a broken record, he would express his desire to box to his mother daily. Papa’s parents expressed concern about the dangers of the sport, but his persistence paid off and they eventually agreed that he could get involved in the sport. At age 13, Papa stepped into a boxing gym for the first time and immediately felt at home. From then on, he spent every waking moment in the gym acquiring new skills while never losing sight of the future he’d envisioned over the years. In an effort to propel his career to the next level, Papa left school behind to focus solely on perfecting his craft. He felt that his time was better served working in construction during the day, while he spent nights training in the gym, and dedicated weekends to sparring and eventually competition.
Papa began competing in the amateur ranks at 16 and excelled in the largest and most notable European tournaments that were held in Switzerland, France, Kosovo, Germany and his home country of Italy, including competition in the Italian Golden Gloves. On a mission to gain additional amateur experience and seek out professional offers, he also lived abroad in London and New York City. Papa later returned to Italy, finishing out his amateur career with a record of 41-16-4 and in 2016 moved to the U.S., spending four years training and fighting out of Miami, FL.
On March 16, 2017 Papa made his professional debut in La Romana, Dominican Republic. He has since earned seven victories, five by way of knockout with appearances in the U.S. and Colombia. Papa doesn’t go through life relying solely on his boxing skill; his attitude toward life and determination are what have also led to his good fortune. Throughout his life, Papa’s older brother Marco has been his biggest inspiration, a daily reminder to press on toward whatever goals he’s committed to accomplishing. Despite having a disease that has extremely impaired his sight, Marco has never stopped smiling and displaying a positive attitude. Papa knows that if Marco can smile every single day, no mountain is too tough for him to climb and fighting on is a must.
It is this same attitude towards life that put Papa in a position to be signed to the Mayweather Promotions banner. It was always a dream for him to visit the boxing capital of Las Vegas, and in July of 2020 his dream came true. Accompanied by his team, Papa scored a meeting at the Mayweather Boxing Club (MBC) and was given the opportunity to spar with then two-division world champion and reigning WBA lightweight titlist Gervonta Davis ahead of his pay-per-view matchup with Leo Santa Cruz. After the success of their initial sparring session, Floyd Mayweather asked Papa to return to the gym and sparred with Davis several other times. Since then, he kept training daily at MBC and sparred with several high ranked fighters, which even led him to being nicknamed “Stallion” by Mayweather himself. One special day, Papa was asked to stick around the gym a bit longer for a once in a lifetime opportunity, sparring with Floyd Mayweather. Five rounds later, Papa was certain he’d captured the eye of Mayweather and would soon be offered a spot on the Mayweather Promotions roster.
At 28 years old, super lightweight boxing prospect Papa is ready to perform under the Mayweather Promotions banner and entertain fans with his powerful and dynamic boxing style. Papa now trains with Kofi Jantuah at MBC. His keys to success in the sweet science are discipline, hard work, and respect. He understands the importance of health and wellness and places emphasis on clean eating, portion control, and proper weight cut ahead of fights. Not only does he work around the clock to take giant leaps toward his professional and personal goals, but he spends time studying footage and technique of boxing legends. Papa has one objective as a boxing professional; he dreams of the day that he will be named a world champion. There is no plan B. Personally, Papa aims to use his boxing skillset to put him in a strong financial position that will allow him to provide for his family and fund research for those fighting the same disease as his brother Marco. He also intends to continue his business ventures in boxing and the fitness industry, while also giving back to the communities that have had an impact on his journey in the sport.