Boxing’s Greats of the States | Rhode Island: Vinny Paz

By Mike Sloan Mar 7, 2017

Boxers come from every corner of the globe. Sometimes, fighters are products of their environment, favoring styles prevalent in the country or state from which they hail. Various regions of the United States are considered factories for great fighters, though that certainly is not the case with each state. In this weekly Sherdog.com series, the spotlight will shine on the best boxer of all-time from each of the 50 states. Fighters do not necessarily need to be born in a given state to represent it; they simply need to be associated with it.

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For all his flaws, no one can deny the legacy Vinny Paz left inside and outside the ring. One of boxing’s most colorful and controversial figures during the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Cranston, Rhode Island, native captured multiple world titles, saw his career briefly derailed by a car accident and had a movie -- “Bleed for This” -- made about his life.

Paz dominated the Northeast regional circuit before laying claim to the IBF lightweight championship in a spirited battle with Greg Haugen in July 1987. “The Pazmanian Devil” surrendered the title to Haugen in their rematch the following June, and it took several years for him to find his way back to the top. Paz fell short against Roger Mayweather, Hector Camacho and Loreto Garza before beating Gilbert Dele for the WBA light middleweight championship on Jan. 10, 1991. After he stopped Dele in the 12th round, Paz won his next nine fights before his highly publicized knockout loss to Roy Jones Jr. in 1995. A victory in a legendary brawl with arch nemesis Dana Rosenblatt followed, but he spent the next several years toiling in relative obscurity. Paz resurrected his career in 2002, only to fall short against Eric Lucas in a bid for the WBC super middleweight belt. He retired with a 50-10 (30 KOs) record. HONORABLE MENTIONS: Demetrius Andrade, Matt Godfrey, Joey Archibald

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