Former boxing champion Vinny Paz, a Cranston, R.I. native whose pugilistic comeback inspired a Hollywood blockbuster, earlier this month resolved an assault case out of Providence that had loomed over him for nearly two years.
Paz, 57, pleaded no contest Dec. 4 to two counts of simple assault and battery and received a one-year suspended sentence with probation on each count, prosecutors said. A spokeswoman for Attorney General Peter F. Neronha’s office said the terms of probation will run consecutively, with orders that Paz have no contact with the victim.
Paz had been accused of punching Providence resident Nathaniel Lavoie in the face “multiple times” late on the night of Jan. 1, 2018 after reporting that Lavoie had earlier ransacked his home and stolen $16,000, according to police and court filings.
Lavoie suffered “heavy swelling” in his left eye during the alleged attack, according to a police report. Paz had previously taken to social media to deny assaulting Lavoie.
In March of 2018, Paz was arrested again for assaulting his girlfriend in Warwick, R.I., and wrapped up that case hours later with a one-year suspended sentence and probation.
The flamboyant Cranston native plied his trade under the nickname Pazmanian Devil and was a two-time champion when he broke his neck in a car crash in 1991.
Paz defied doctors who said he’d never fight again, climbing back in the ring within a year and going on to claim three more titles. The storied comeback was chronicled in the Hollywood film “Bleed For This,” released to critical raves in 2016.
Among Paz’s notable victories during the comeback were two wins against an aging Roberto Duran, a feared puncher whose nom de guerre, “Manos de Piedra,” translated to Hands of Stone.
Duran was portrayed in “Bleed For This” by Worcester light heavyweight contender Edwin “La Bomba” Rodriguez. Tinseltown A-lister Miles Teller played Paz.
In August, Paz was inducted into the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame in Las Vegas, along with an array of fight game luminaries including Bobby Chacon — who found his way into a Warren Zevon song — Bernard Hopkins, Juan Manuel Marquez, Terry Norris, and Ronald “Winky” Wright.
Two months earlier, Paz brought the house down during a rousing speech at a banquet for the 2019 inductees into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in central New York.
From the lectern, Paz told Hall of Fame boss Ed Brophy that he too hoped to be inducted someday and threatened to kill Brophy if his request wasn’t honored. The crowd roared, and when the laughter subsided Paz said, “He thinks I’m jokin’.”
The crowd roared again.