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Boxing – 1987 IBF Lightweight Title – Champ Greg Haugen VS Vinny Pazienza


As you will find often throughout the boxing section of Imasportsphile…..which pretty much covers the golden age of boxing from 1964 to 1995….there are many fights between many great fighters who have long since been forgotten….cuz history in the year 2017 only covers the many legendary boxers of this era….but the truth remains that there were a plethera of great to super great fighters who have long since been forgotten….and lightweight Greg Haugen and Vinny Pazienza (known later as Vinny Paz) are two of those guys.  Furthermore, these guys did not like each other….evidenced by this video tape….in the pre-fight interviews and in the ring.

Greg Lee Haugen (born August 31, 1960) is a retired American boxer….who was a world champion at both the lightweight and light welterweight divisions.  Haugen turned pro in 1982 and won his first 17 fights before challenging for a world title….when on December 5, 1986….he captured the International Boxing Federation lightweight title with a majority decision over reigning champion Jimmy Paul.

Haugen lost his title in his first defense to Vinny Pazienza by decision….however, he won the title back in a rematch with Pazienza in 1988. He defended the title against Miguel Santana and future WBO welterweight champion Gert Bo Jacobsen….then he lost the IBF Lightweight title to Pernell Whitaker in 1989 by decision….in a fight that produced his biggest paycheck at that time at $426,000.

On February 23, 1991, he captured the WBO light welterweight title with an upset victory over then undefeated Hector “Macho” Camacho by split decision….in an outcome that resulted from Camacho being deducted a point for illegally hitting Haugen when Haugen refused to touch gloves at the beginning of the last round. After his fight with Camacho; Haugen tested positive for marijuana and was fine $25,000.  Later that year Haugen lost a rematch with Camacho, again by split decision.

In 1992, he captured the vacant NABF light welterweight title with a knockout win over Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini… and on February 20, 1993….he challenged Mexican legend Julio César Chávez for the WBC light welterweight title at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City….in a fight attended by 132,247 spectators. Haugen’s legacy is likely best defined by the Chavez fight….but not for his performance in the ring….but rather while leading up to the bout….Haugen made the comment that many of Chavez’s wins “came against Tijuana taxi drivers that my mom could whip.”….which  generated a huge uproar in the Mexican community and ignited publicity for the bout. After the loss to Chávez, a dominant TKO loss, Haugen stated that “They must have been very tough taxi drivers.”  Haugen never again challenged for a major belt. When asked in an interview who was the greatest fighter he ever fought, Haugen replied, “Hands down, Pernell Whittaker”.  He retired in 1999 with a record of 40 wins 10 losses 1 draw and 2 no decision and three (3) world titles.

Vinny Pazienza, soon to change his name to Vinny Paz is an American former professional boxer who held world titles in lightweight and light middleweight divisions….for whom the 2016 film called “Bleed for This” is based on his comeback from a spinal injury.

In the 1980s, Vinny Pazienza built a reputation along the East Coast by putting together an impressive streak of wins over fighters Melvin Paul (KO 2), Joe Frazier Jr. (TKO 7), Harry Arroyo (UD 10), Nelson Bolanos (TKO 6) and Roberto Elizondo (KO in 10).  His first world title fight came on June 7, 1987, in Providence, RI….in a fight seen herewith where he outpointed Greg Haugen over 15 rounds to become the IBF world lightweight champion.  As previously said….the pair would meet two more times….with Haugen recovering the title in an immediate rematch…. while Pazienza would prevail in a 10-round decision in their rubber match in 1990.

Vinny Pazienza failed in title tries in the junior welterweight division….one in 1988 against WBC world champion Roger Mayweather….and the other coming in 1990 versus both WBO champion Hector “Macho” Camacho…along with another against WBA world champion Loreto Garza.  It was during this time period that Pazienza was having difficulty making weight for his fights. After the Roger Mayweather fight, Pazienza collapsed in the dressing room from near-fatal dehydration and was rushed to the hospital….so, after the loss to Garza, Pazienza decided to move up to a more natural weight class.

In 1991, Pazienza made the move to the junior middleweight division and in his first fight at this weight class he won the USBA Championship against Ron Amundsen in a 12-round decision. Pazienza looked faster, healthier and stronger….and then received a shot at the WBA world title and was successful in defeating the WBA world junior middleweight champion Gilbert Dele with a 12th-round TKO win in Providence, RI. With this world title win, Pazienza became the second fighter in boxing history to win both the lightweight and junior middleweight world championships. Pazienza was considered the underdog going into the fight but delivered what many believe was the finest performance of his career.….when shortly after winning the junior middleweight world title….Pazienza was forced to relinquish the title due to a serious car accident in which his neck was broken. Doctors informed him he might never walk again and would certainly never fight again. Pazienza had to wear a medical device called a Halo, a circular metal brace screwed into the skull in four spots and propped up with four metal rods. Pazienza had the Halo screwed to his skull for 3 months….during which time he maintained a workout regime by disobeying the doctors’ orders….and he returned to the ring thirteen months after the accident and beat future WBC world junior middleweight champion Luis Santana via a 10-round decision.  It is considered the greatest comeback in boxing history.

After the Santana fight, Pazienza then went on to defeat Brett Lally by a 6th-round TKO….followed by another TKO when he beat the former world champion Lloyd Honeyghan in the 10th round. Pazienza went on to win the vacant IBO middleweight world title in 1993 with an 11th-round KO over Dan Sherry….then Pazienza also went on to beat Roberto Duran twice….both via decision…with the IBC super middleweight title on the line both times.  In the June 1995 fight between Roy Jones, Jr. vs. Vinny Pazienza….a fight billed as The Devil and Mr. Jones which resulted in a loss in the world title bid against the IBF world super middleweight champion.  In 1996, Pazienza inflicted then up and coming prospect Dana Rosenblatt’s only loss with a knockout in 4 rounds to win the vacant WBU super middleweight world championship.  In early 2001, Pazienza legally changed his last name to Paz….who proceeded to lose his WBC world super middleweight champion Eric Lucas in what would be his last shot at a world title.

In 2004, Paz fought in his last fight, defeating Tocker Pudwill via 10-round unanimous decision….as his record stands at 50-10 with 30 wins by knockout….and five (5) world titles…the IBF lightweight championship….the WBA junior middleweight championship….the IBO super middleweight championship….the IBC super middleweight championship….and the WBU super middleweight championship. He also won the USBA title.

So, this fight is another example of two really outstanding multi-world champion boxers meeting in the ring during the golden age of boxing….and yet these two boxing greats have seemingly been forgotten in the fast paced world of 2017….so, in addition to this being a really great grudge fight….the two deserve their place in Imasportsphile history. 

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