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Boxing – Lightweight Title – Champ Greg Haugen VS Vinny Pazienza

DOG ASIDE:

Greg Lee Haugen is a retired American boxer….who was world champion at both the Lightweight and Light-welterweight classes. Haugen turned pro in 1982 and won his first 17 fights before challenging for a world title on December 5, 1986….when he captured the IBF (International Boxing Federation) lightweight title with a majority decision over reigning champion Jimmy Paul.  He lost his title in his first defense to Vinny Pazienza by decision….as seen in this video herewith….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.  He lost the IBF Lightweight title to Pernell Whitaker in 1989 by decision….which was 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 Camacho by split decision….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…..then 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….for 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: “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 40–10–1-2.

Vinny Paz, formerly Vinny Pazienza, is an American former professional boxer who held world titles at lightweight, light middleweight and super middleweight divisions….as in the 1980’s….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 where he outpointed Greg Haugen over 15 rounds to become the IBF world lightweight champion…..as seen in this herewith. The pair would meet two more times with Haugen recovering the title in an immediate rematch….and Pazienza prevailing in a 10-round decision in their rubber match in 1990.

Pazienza failed in title tries in the juinior welterweight division….when in 1988 against WBC World Champion Roger Mayweather…..and in 1990 versus both WBO champion Hector “Macho” Camacho….and 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….resulting in him being rushed to hospital. After the loss to Garza….Pazienza decided to move up to a more natural weight class. It has been said that his then manager Lou Duva did not want Pazienza to move up in weight due to the Duva’s managing champions in other weight classes.

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 where Paz looked faster, healthier and stronger….helping him receive a shot at the WBA world title…..and was successful in defeating the WBA World Jr. Middleweight Champion Gilbert Dele with a 12th-round TKO win. 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.

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…..as 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…disobeying the doctors’ orders.returning to the ring thirteen months after the accident…..while beating future WBC World Jr. Middleweight Champion Luis Santana via a 10-round decision. It is considered the greatest comeback in boxing history. The rights to this story were sold to Verdi Corrente Productions and have been turned into a feature film dubbed Bleed for This….with American actor Miles Teller portraying Paz.

After the Santana fight, Pazienza then went on to defeat Brett Lally by a 6th-round TKO….and then in another TKO….he beat the former world champion Lloyd Honeyghan in the 10th round….then Pazienza went on to win the vacant IBO middleweight world title in 1993…..with an 11th-round KO over Dan Sherry…..as Pazienza also went on to beat Roberto Duran twice via decision with the IBC super middleweight title on the line both times….then in June 1995 he fought Roy Jones in a fight billed as The Devil and Mr. Jones….which resulted in a loss in the world title bid against IBF world super middleweight champion Roy Jones, Jr. In 1996, Pazienza inflicted then-prospect Dana Rosenblatt’s only loss (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….then in 2002….Paz lost to 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 by defeating Tocker Pudwill via 10-round unanimous decision. His record stands at 50-10 with 30 wins by knockout and five world titles….the IBF lightweight championship…the WBA jr. middleweight championship….the IBO super middleweight championship….the IBC super middleweight hampionship….and the WBU super middleweight championship. 

Outside of boxing, Paz was a guest star on the TV series Police Academy…..a guest on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno….was featured on The Montell Williams Show …. served as a guest security guard on an episode of The Jerry Springer Show….and refereed the Brawl for All fight at WrestleMania XV between Bart Gunn and Butterbean…..just to give you a few insignificant facts of Vinny Paz’s long career in and around boxing.

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