INTERNATIONAL SPORTS HALL OF FAME AWARDS
Saturday, March 5, 2022 | Arnold Sports Festival, Columbus, Ohio
Vinny Paz – 5X World Boxing Champion
In the 1980s, Vinny Paz built a reputation along the East Coast, defeating such opponents as 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, where he outpointed Greg Haugen over 15 rounds to become the IBF world lightweight champion. The pair would meet two more times: Haugen recovering the title in an immediate rematch and Pazienza prevailing in a 10-round decision in their rubber match in 1990.
In 1991, Pazienza moved into the junior middleweight division. This movement was at the advice of his new trainer Kevin Rooney. In his first fight at junior middleweight, he won the USBA championship against Ron Amundsen in a 12-round decision. He defeated the WBA World Jr. Middleweight Champion Gilbert Delé with a 12th-round TKO, becoming the second fighter in boxing history to win both the Lightweight and Junior Middleweight World Championships.
Pazienza was forced to relinquish the title due to a serious car accident in which his neck was broken. He was scheduled for a Jan 10 title defense against Pat Lawlor in Atlantic City but it was called off. 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. He had the Halo screwed to his skull for three months, during which time he maintained a workout regimen against doctors’ orders. He returned to the ring thirteen months after the accident and defeated future WBC World Jr. Middleweight Champion Luis Santana by a 10-round decision.
After the Santana fight, Pazienza went on to defeat Brett Lally by a 6th-round TKO, and then, in another TKO, 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. Pazienza then went on to beat Roberto Durán twice, both via unanimous decision, with the IBC Super Middleweight title on the line both times. In 1996, Pazienza inflicted then-prospect Dana Rosenblatt’s only loss (a knockout in four rounds) to win the vacant WBU Super Middleweight World Championship.
In early 2001, Pazienza legally changed his last name to Paz. In 2004, Paz fought in his last fight, defeating Tocker Pudwill via a 10-round unanimous decision. His record stands at 50–10, with 30 wins by knockout and five World Titles (the IBF Lightweight Championship, WBA Jr. Middleweight Championship, IBO Super Middleweight Championship, IBC Super Middleweight Championship, and the WBU Super Middleweight Championship). He also won the USBA title.