Forgotten Classics: Dana Rosenblatt vs Vinny Pazienza

By: Steve Gallegos

New England has produced many great fighters over the years. Brockton, MA produced both Rocky Marciano and Marvin Hagler. Lowell, MA is known for producing “Irish” Micky Ward and in the 80’s and 90’s, a very colorful, exiciting fighter came out of Cranston, RI; his name was VinnyThe Pazmanian DevilPazienza. Known for his brash talk and exciting in-fighting, Pazienza was a fan favorite as he fought the best from Lightweight through Super Middleweight while capturing two world titles. His resume of opponents were impressive as he faced fighters such as Greg Haugen, Roger Mayweather and Hector “Macho” Camacho.

In 1991, Pazienza was involved in a very bad car accident and doctors said he would never fight again. He was determined to defy the odds and did so by making a stunning recovery in which he was able to return to the ring a year later. He would go 9-0 in his comeback, including a win over former world champion Lloyd Honeghan and a pair of wins over the legendary Roberto Duran.

In 1992, another very good boxer emerged from the New England area who began creating buzz on the east coast. His name was “DangerousDana Rosenblatt. A southpaw with a strong jab and very good power, Rosenblatt won his 1st 28 bouts, 20 by KO. The Boxing fans in New England began talking about about a Pazienza-Rosenblatt fight. Rosenblatt was untested and the biggest name on his resume was former 1976 U.S. Olympic gold medalist Howard Davis, who was 40 years old when Rosenblatt defeated him via second round KO.  The Pazienza vs Rosenblatt fight was made and billed “The Neighborhood War” as there was a lot of bad blood leading up to the bout.

Pazienza said that the fight wasn’t a neighborhood war to him and when he fights, it’s a world wide event. Rosenblatt said that Pazienza was everything he didn’t want to be. Paz responded by saying “If I’m everything he don’t wanna be, then he should quit boxing. I’ve won four world titles, had over 40 fights, fought everybody”. Rosenblatt responded with, “He’s like an out of work school teacher, no class”. Pazienza then said, “He’s an idiot. He looks through the dictionary everyday and finds a big word to act like a smart ass. I hate him, I don’t like him”.

They met on Friday, 08/23/96 at the Atlantic City Convention Center in Atlantic City, NJ for the WBU Super Middleweight Championship. Pazienza was coming off a loss to Super Middleweight champion Roy Jones 14 months prior to the bout. Pazienza said that Rosenblatt picked him at the wrong time because when he comes back from a loss, he’s at his best. Rosenblatt responded by predicting he would control the fight all night with his jab.

Thousands of fans from Rhode Island and Massachussetts flocked to Atlantic City to witness the “Neighborhood War”. In the first round, Rosenblatt put Pazienza on the deck with a right hand as Paz was coming in. Pazienza immediately got up and decked Rosenblatt off guard before veteran referee Tony Orlando could start the count. Orlando had to step in and separate the fighters and ruled the knockdown as a slip. Rosenblatt stuck to his game plan by using his jab while tatooing Pazienza with hard shots. Pazienza used lateral movement trying to get inside on the much taller Rosenblatt; however with little success. The round ended with Pazienza’s left eye badly swollen as well as blood pouring from his nose.

The second and third rounds were much of the same as Rosenblatt continued to have his way. Paz continued his lateral movement and was constantly hitting himself after Rosenblatt would land a combination, telling him he wasn’t hurt. Towards the end of the third, Rosenblatt got frustrated with Paz’s antics and told him “Come on, why don’t you hit yourself some more”. Pazienza knew he couldn’t outbox Rosenblatt and had to knock him out.

In the fourth round, Pazienza finally landed the haymaker he needed when he landed a huge right hand that put Rosenblatt down. Rosenblatt was able to get up, but he was on wobbily legs. Pazienza went in for the kill, landing hard shots while Rosenblatt was against the ropes, forcing referre Tony Orlando to step in; however Pazienza didn’t stop punching and hit the referee, knocking him down and having to be restrained by the New Jersey State Athletic Commissioner Larry Hazard. It was a spectacular ending to a very entertaining fight, for as short as it was. Pazienza was ecstatic as it was a new chapter added to the ever exciting story of his career. Rosenblatt took the loss with a smile, giving Pazienza  a lot of credit for getting in the big shot.

Both fighters would have great success over the next couple years. Pazienza would win five out his next six bouts and Rosenblatt would also have a great deal of success as he would win his next seven bouts, including a big win over former world champion Terry Norris. Rosenblatt and Pazienza would meet again in November of 1999 and Rosenblatt would win a split decision. Rosenblatt would only fight three more times from 1999-2002, going 1-0-2  before retiring with a record of 37-1-2 with 23 KO’s. His only loss was to Pazienza.

Vinny Pazienza would go 4-2 from 2001-2004 and would retire after winning his 50th professional bout. His record as a professional stands at 50-10 with 30 KO’s. They were two great fighters, who couldn’t be any more different than night and day and who matched up very well to provide one of boxing’s lost classics of the 1990’s.

rosenblatt vs pazienza








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