In the 1980s, Pazienza built a reputation along the East Coast, defeating such opponents as Melvin Paul (KO 2), Joe Frazier Jr. (TKO 7), Harry Arroyo (UD 10), Nelson Bolanos (TKO 6), and Roberto Elizondo (KO in 10). His first world title fight came on June 7, 1987, in Providence, Rhode Island, where he outpointed Greg Haugen over 15 rounds to become the IBF world lightweight champion.
The pair would meet two more times: Haugen recovering the title in an immediate rematch, and Pazienza prevailing in a 10-round decision in their rubber match in 1990.
In June 1995, Pazienza lost his world title bid against IBF world super middleweight champion Roy Jones Jr. In 1996, Pazienza inflicted then-prospect Dana Rosenblatt’s only loss (a knockout in four rounds) to win the vacant WBU super middleweight world championship.
In early 2001, Pazienza legally changed his last name to Paz. In 2002, he lost to WBC world super middleweight champion Eric Lucas in what would be his last shot at a world title.
In 2004, Paz fought in his last fight, defeating Tocker Pudwill via 10-round unanimous decision. His record stands at 50–10, with 30 wins by knockout and five world titles (the IBF lightweight championship, WBA jr. middleweight championship, IBO super middleweight championship, IBC super middleweight championship, and the WBU super middleweight championship).
He also won the USBA title. He had a very serious gambling addiction and even after his career, wasted over $10 million on his lifestyle and blackjack.
On November 12, 1991, Pazienza was a passenger in a car that was involved in a head-on collision in Warwick, Rhode Island, at an estimated speed of 40 miles per hour (64 km/h), as a result of which he suffered a dislocated vertebra and two fractured vertebrae in his neck.
The driver of his car suffered a head injury and the driver of the oncoming car suffered minor injuries. Pazienza sued both drivers and was awarded $926,000, after the District Court for the District of Rhode Island ruled that the driver of the car in which Pazienza was a passenger was solely responsible for causing the accident.
Outside of boxing, Paz was a guest star on the TV series Police Academy, a guest on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, was featured on The Montell Williams Show, served as a guest security guard on an episode of The Jerry Springer Show, and refereed the Brawl for All fight at WrestleMania XV between Bart Gunn and Butterbean. He appeared in the unreleased 1997 movie The Good Life.
The 2016 film Bleed for This is based on his comeback from a spinal injury, and stars Miles Teller as Pazienza.
Vinny Paz’s boxing record is: Total fights: 60 Wins 50 Wins by KO 30 Loses 10.