Bronx Tale, A Sad One for Vinny Paz
By JD Vena
LEDYARD, CT. - For most prizefighters, happy endings aren't always in store.
You've seen it time and time again; the aged fighter comes back for a little
taste of success that he enjoyed during his zenith only to be beaten silly.
For Vinny Paz, most of his wins haven't at times been pretty, therefore why
would anyone expect the finale of his exciting career to be any sweeter?
After 8 one-sided rounds of gory bloodshed, let's hope that the horrific
beating Paz endured last night from former welterweight champion, Aaron
"Superman" Davis of the Bronx was his last.
Inactive for 15 months since his last fight, a loss to Dana Rosenblatt, the
38-year old Paz (46-9, 29 KO's) decided that the first opponent of what
would so far turn out to be an unsuccessful comeback was to be a dangerous
"We wanted Vinny to fight a safer opponent because he was out for so long,"
said matchmaker Ted Panagiotis. "We wanted Jimmy Crawford, but he insisted
on someone tough."
Though Davis was perceived by some to be the underdog, you couldn't help
but admire Paz' selection in a tough opponent like the former WBA
welterweight champion, who hasn't had a taste of sweet victory in quite some
time. You may have to go as far back as 10 years ago, on an afternoon when
he won the title in spectacular fashion by knocking out Mark Breland with a
single right hand. It was something unexpected as Davis accomplished the
feat while on the verge of being stopped from having his right eye swollen
shut. Entering the ring surrounded by the capacity crowd at Foxwoods Resort
& Casino, Davis appeared to have a bruise around his left eye, a sign that
you could interpret in a number of ways. In the end, the battle wound was
the sign that Davis (48-6, (30 KO's) had prepared well enough to take full
advantage of his opportunity of fighting a name like Paz.
"I had been preparing with top light-heavyweights like David Telesco," said
Davis. "There was no way Vinny was going to beat me."
Paz on the other hand entered the ring he had been successful in 9 of his
previous10 trips to Foxwoods without his face being decorated by the
traditional Native-American war paint. But by the third round, Paz' nose,
which had been broken and bloodied by one of Davis' crisp uppercuts, had
dispensed and splattered enough blood on Paz' well-traveled face to make him
look like a member of the Blue Man Group, except with red paint.
Davis continued to plaster Paz with nearly every punch in his arsenal with
the exception of his right cross, the punch that made him a champion. "When
you fight Vinny, it's hard to catch him with a straight right hand because
he likes to come in with his head down," said the victor. "You have to hit
Vinny with up the middle shots."
Davis managed to hit Paz all over and by the 4th round it was evident that
Paz would need to land a Hail Mary shot to stop the onslaught. But Paz, who
isn't known for beating world-class fighters with one shot wasn't able to
land a blow telling enough to discourage the determined Davis. Moments
after Paz landed a hard right to the jaw, an undaunted Davis began pummeling
Paz on the ropes towards the end of the sixth frame. It was that moment
when you began wondering when the inevitable end would come for Paz.
The ringside physician had begun examining Paz in between rounds as early as
the second but now, but after 6, veteran Referee Frank Cappuccino had begun
calling halts in the action for the doctor to examine Paz' faucet-like nose.
Only Paz' reputation for battling adversity his entire career and his
mammoth-sized heart allowed the fight to resume. Sensing that allowing the
fight to continue this way was wrong, Cappuccino finally did the right thing
by halting the contest at 1:41 of the 8th round.
"I really couldn't believe that his corner or the referee wouldn't stop the
fight," said Davis. "My corner just said 'keep doing what you're doing.
You don't want this to go to the scorecards."
The scorecards wouldn't have been kind to Paz either. Judge Melvina Lathan
had scored it 70-63 (as did the CBZ) while judges Don O'Neill and Steve
Epstein saw it at 69-64, awarding the first round to Vinny.
Despite Paz being over the hill, it appeared that Davis who is 33 years old
still has a lot to offer to game. There is no reason to think that Davis
could not have administered at least a similar beating to Paz if the two had
met during their heydays. Davis who weighed 167 ½ for last night's fight
said that he plans on moving down to 160 or possibly 154 in hopes of getting
the chance to face either Felix Trinidad or Bernard Hopkins. If you don't
like his chances, you have to admire his attitude. Hopefully, he'll know
when to call it quits unlike his opponent last night.
Meanwhile Vinny Paz, who wasn't available for questions after the fight
will now have to ponder his future plans, a schedule that most fighters
typically don't have mapped out after a career in fisticuffs. After all,
fighting is all Paz has ever been good at. So far Paz' movie career has
been short-lived and may likely not pan out in the future as well as he
hoped. Throughout his career, fighting is all Vinny wanted to do, even
under the most dreadful of circumstances. He wanted to continue fighting
after breaking his neck in '91. He wanted to continue fighting after being
massacred by Roy Jones, Jr. in '95. And last night he wanted to continue
fighting when he was hopelessly behind and draped in his own blood. When or
if Vinny Paz is 80 years old, you can guarantee that the warrior know as the
"Pazmanian Devil" will have plenty of fight left in him but his best days
will be far behind him as they are now.
In the co-feature, Richard Grant, a native of Jamaican now fighting out of
Brooklyn, NY won a controversial 10-round technical decision over Vitali
Kopytko of the Ukraine. Both combatants, who are both former Olympians,
fought very competitively throughout which was why two of the scores for
Grant (87-84) came as a surprise. The other judge had it 86-85 for Grant
(The CBZ had it the other way around). What didn't come as surprise might
have been how the climactic ending of the fight came about. During the 10th
and final round, Kopytko, 168, came in with his head while throwing a left
hand but landed only with his noggin. The collision tore open a gash over
Grant's left eye so severe that Grant had to leave the ring to get sown up
before Mark Beiro had announced the verdict. Earlier their heads collided
during the 5th round causing a cut somewhere on the left side of the Kopytko
's head. Grant improved his record to 13-8 with 2 KO's while Kopytko fell
to 18-4, 8 KO's.
In an entertaining 6-round, women's lightweight bout, Liz Mueller, 133, of
New London, CT and Jaime Clampitt, 136, of Calgary, Canada waged the most
competitive, action-filled fight of the night. It may have also been
perhaps the best women's these eyes have ever seen. Abolitionists of women'
s boxing are probably still shocked at the skill and the torrid pace set by
the ambitious young females. Mueller, who had lost a disputed verdict in
December to Marischa Sjauw, fought perhaps, one of the most skilled women's
boxers in the world. Entering the bout with a 5-1 record, Mueller usually
faces opponents with three times as many fights as she has. Clampitt on the
other hand was unbeaten in her three contests and like Mueller gave you the
impression that she had been a practitioner of the "sweet science" for a
number of years. Rather than a bogus Mia St. John fight, theirs' was a
classic match-up of stylist versus the aggressor. Just as Davis had enjoyed
a success with his uppercuts and straight punches, so did Clampitt, who took
full advantage of Mueller when she wasn't trying to tear into Clampitt's
midsection. Mueller saw most of her success during the middle rounds when
Clampitt had slowed down from her fast start. The fight could have gone
either way, with a draw also being fair, but instead, Mueller won this one
by a majority vote. Judge Don O'Neall saw it 57-57, while judges Don
Ackerman and Melvina Lathan had Mueller the winner by score of 58-56. The
CBZ had it 58-57 for Liz.
In other bouts, Angle Torres, 122 ½, 5-time Puerto Rican national amateur
champion fighting out of Hartford, won his professional debut when he blew
away Walusimbi Kizito (poor Mark Beiro) a native of Brooklyn by way of
Uganda. Kizito, 124, didn't put up much of a fight to really show us what
Torres has. Referee Matt Melaney stopped the contest at 2:25 of the first
round. In a battle of huge heavyweights, Andre Kopilov, 224, of Brooklyn
stopped a game Earl Ramon Hayes, 267, of Athens, GA at 1:37 of the third
round. Kopilov is now 6-1 with 4 KO's while Hayes is 6-10-1 with 5 KO's.
In the swing bout, hard-hitting Gary "The Tiger" Balletto, 138, of
Providence won the first decision of his career by defeating a durable
Hector Arroyo, 138, of Morovis, Puerto Rico. Winning for the 18th time,
Balletto is usually accustomed to knocking his opponent out. Prior to last
night, two other men survived Balletto's thunder-bombs and managed to absorb
them and fight back, hence the two draws on his resume. This time, Balletto
left no doubt with the judges, pounding Morovis along the ropes and knocking
him through them towards the end of the 6th and final round. Steve Epstein
and Robert Paolino had Balletto winning by scores of 60-53 (as did the CBZ)
and Melvina Lathan scored it 59-54.
Promoter - Jimmy Burchfield's Classic Entertainment & Sports
Matchmaker - Ted Panagiotis
Venue - Foxwoods Resort & Casino
Network - ESPN2
Ring Announcer - Mark Beiro