Vinny Paz: Boxing's Blood and Guts Comeback

By BT1
Nov. 14, 2016

BostonGlobe.com

by Jim McGrady

You’d be hard pressed to find a fighter with a bigger heart than Vinny Paz.

On December 15th, 1992, Paz made one of the greatest comebacks in boxing when he defeated Luis Santana over 10 rounds at Foxwoods Resort in Connecticut. The nationally televised contest (on USA’s Tuesday Night Fights) was noteworthy for one major reason: Paz had nearly been killed just 13 months prior.

More often than not, great comebacks stem from dire circumstances, and the five time world champion fell victim to one of one of the worst; on November 12th 1991, just over a month after his WBA super middleweight world title win over Gilbert Dele, a head on collision left him with two broken vertebrae in his neck and third dislocated. He was told he’d be lucky if was able to walk again, let alone fight. Boxing was over and done with as far as the doctors were concerned but packing in a championship career at 28 years old wasn’t what Paz had in mind. “I am gonna box again” was his response to the doctors, “you don’t understand what kind of man I am”.

Just days, yes…days after being released from the hospital, complete with a halo screwed into his skull, Paz was back training in one form or another. Video footage surfaced of the Rhode Island fighter weight training and shadow boxing all with a smile…and without his doctor’s knowledge of course. Full time training kicked in once the halo was removed, with the shut out win over Santana coming just 13 months after nearly losing everything.

Paz would go on to win his next eight bouts, including wins over Lloyd Honeyghan and two wins over Roberto Duran. He would also win the IBO, IBC, and WBU super middleweight titles in a career that would carry on a little more than 11 years, and cap things off with a win over Tocker Pudwill on March 27th, 2004, ending with a record of 50-10 with 30 knockouts and five world titles in three weight classes.

Paz remains a fan favorite outside the ring, and is well remembered for his aggressive, never-say-die fighting style that made him one of the sport’s biggest draws during his time. “I’m a warrior, and warriors don’t worry about getting hurt” he once stated. “I’ve been through it all, blood and guts, sweat and tears…I’ve been through it all”.

You’d be hard pressed to find a fighter with a bigger heart than Vinny Paz.

The movie documenting Paz’s incredible return, “Bleed for This”, opens Friday, November 15th.