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Vinny Paz, formerly Vinny Pazienza (born Vincenzo Edward Pazienza on December 16, 1962 in Cranston, Rhode Island) is an Italian-American former boxer and world champion in the lightweight and light middleweight weight classes. He boxed under the nickname of "The Pazmanian Devil."
After building a reputation around the Eastern coast and a streak of wins over people like Roberto Elizondo (KO in 10), the Rhode Island native's first title try came on June 7, 1987 in Providence, where he outpointed Greg Haugen over 15 rounds to become the IBF's world lightweight champion. The pair would meet two more times, Haugen recovering the title in an immediate rematch, but Paz prevailing in a 10-round decision in their rubber match in 1990.
Paz failed in title tries in the Jr Welterweight division in 1988 against WBC world champion Roger Mayweather and in 1989 vs WBO boss Hector Camacho and also in 1990 against WBA world champion Loreto Garza.
After his third fight with Haugen, Paz's career became an inspiration to many. In 1991 he moved to the Jr Middleweight division and beat WBA World Jr Middleweight champion Gilbert Dele with an 12th round TKO win in Providence.
He had to vacate the title when he was involved in a car crash and the doctors told him he'd never fight again. But, after 3 months in the hospital and wearing a neck brace, he made one of boxing's most incredible comebacks ever, returning to the ring against his doctors' recommendations and beating future WBC world Jr. Middleweight champion Luis Santana by a 10-round decision. The rights to this story have been sold to Verdi Corrente Productions and is set to turned into a feature film in 2011.
Paz beat Roberto Duran by decision twice and lost a title try at world super middleweight champion Roy Jones Jr. in the 1990s, the decade when he also married his girlfriend, a former Playboy model. He inflicted prospect Dana Rosenblatt's first loss (a knockout in 4 rounds) and lost a 12-round decision to Rosenblatt in a rematch during this period also. During this decade he also changed his last name from Pazienza to Paz.
In 2002, Paz lost to WBC world super middleweight champion Eric Lucas in what might be his last world title try.
Paz loves giving out autographs to his fans, and has been very popular from the time he broke into the boxing scene up until his sun setting days of the late 1990s and early 2000s. He is something of a local hero in Rhode Island, regarded as one of the state's favorite sons.
Paz was a guest security guard on an episode of The Jerry Springer Show aired in 2009.
Outside of boxing, Paz refereed the Brawl for All at WrestleMania XV between Bart Gunn and Butterbean. As of December 2007, he is marketing a DVD that showcases all of his boxing highlights.
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