Since his professional debut on May 26, 1983, Vinny Paz (formerly Pazienza) has been one of boxing’s most charismatic and exciting fighters. Very few fighters have had the same success in the ring, and at the box office as Vinny has had. He had won five world titles in total at lightweight, junior middleweight and super middleweight. Paz won his first world title on June 7, 1987 with a 15 round decision over reigning IBF world lightweight champion Greg Haugen in an epic war in front of a sell-out crowd at the Providence Civic Center. 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.
It would be four years before Vinny was once again a world champion. October 1, 1991 Vinny showed everyone that you should never count him out. He dominated WBA world junior middleweight champion Gilbert Dele and stopped him in the 12th round. Soon after the Dele fight, Vinny broke his neck in a serious automobile accident. Pazienza was told that he would never fight again, and he spent the better part of three months in a hospital bed with a halo screwed into his head. Those doctors who told Vinny he would never fight obviously did not know the heart of a true champion.
Against doctors orders, and without their knowledge, “The Pazmanian Devil” returned to the gym with the halo on. He began lifting weights, getting back the strength he lost while sitting in bed. He finally made his triumphant return to the ring just over a year later capping off an unbelievable recovery. His first opponent was former WBC world super welterweight champion Luis Santana. Paz won a unanimous ten round decision that not only marked his return to the ring, but also marked the beginning of major professional boxing at the Foxwoods Casino.
Vinny went on to defeat top contenders to set up a fight against hall of famer and boxing icon Roberto Duran. Despite being knocked down for only the second time in his career, Paz walked away with a 12 round unanimous decision and the IBC world super middleweight crown. A win over contender Rafael Williams set up another fight with Duran. This time Pazienza gave the former champion a boxing lesson and easily won a 12 round decision to retain his IBC title.
In July 1998, Vinny returned to Foxwoods Casino and in front of a sell-out crowd gave an awesome performance that some journalists called the "Fight of the Year" and the "Best Fight Ever at Foxwoods." Vinny went to war with veteran contender Glenwood Brown. Paz found himself on the mat in the third round, but all the knockdown did was motivate Vinny who scorched his slower foe to sweep the remaining rounds. In the end, Vinny had thrown and landed twice as many punches as his opponent. Paz followed that with wins over Arthur Allen, Undra White, Joseph Kiwanuka and Esteban Cervantes. This set up Vinny's crack at a sixth world championship. Paz's opponent in the IBO title fight was a very familiar face in Dana Rosenblatt. The two waged a verbal war before the fight and it translated to an action packed world title fight. Paz scored the only knockdown and despite the feeling amongst most ringside observers that Vinny had pulled out the win, the decision went to Rosenblatt. The fight ended up as the highest rated ESPN telecast ever.
Vinny Paz has faced many challenges on and off the ring. These lessons learned are insights he shares with audiences across the nation in his charismatic, energetic and moving keynote speeches. Captured in the inspiring film Bleed for This (Fall 2016), with the legendary Martin Scorsese as executive producer and starring Miles Teller of Whiplash fame, hear from “The Pazmanian Devil” himself about how he overcame insurmountable odds to become a champion in his own right.