R.I. boxing legend Vinny Paz has been in Vegas many times. But this weekend is special.
In June, former boxing champ Vinny Paz, the pride of Cranston, R.I., brought the house down during a 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.
But this is no joke: on Saturday night, the 56-year-old Paz will be inducted into the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame in Las Vegas, along with an array of pugilistic legends including Bobby Chacon — who found his way into a Warren Zevon song — Bernard Hopkins, Juan Manuel Marquez, Terry Norris, and Ronald “Winky” Wright.
Paz touched down in Vegas Thursday. He’ll accept the honor despite facing a felony assault charge in Providence.
Nevada Boxing Hall founder Rich Marotta tweeted out a photo of the five-time world champion at the airport, sporting his signature shades and a military fatigue hat and flashing a thumbs-up for the camera. His “5X” tattoo was clearly visible on the back of his hand.
Reached via direct message Friday on Twitter, Paz wrote that it feels “Great !!” to be immortalized in the Nevada Hall and made his case for induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
“It’s great I’m happy to be apart of the NVBHOF and yes International Next !!” Paz wrote. “Everything takes time !! This is my time. I entertained I fought my heart out for Boxing !!! I was born to Box.”
Noted boxing commentators Al Bernstein and Cynthia Conte will preside over the induction ceremonies at the Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa.
“I am excited to co-host the @nvbhofinduction ceremonies at the @redrockcasino,” Bernstein tweeted. “My co-host is talented boxing journalist @cynthia_conte. So many great honorees will have their careers celebrated.”
Paz on Thursday needed fewer words to voice his excitement.
“VEGAS,” he tweeted.
Paz has been charged with felony assault in Providence stemming from an alleged attack in January 2018 of a man whom Paz alleges stole from him. Paz has adamantly denied the assault charge.
During sanctioned bouts in his prime, he was a force of nature.
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, stunningly entering the squared circle within a year and going on to claim three more titles. The storied comeback was chronicled in the Hollywood film “Bleed For This,” released 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.
“The Duran fight was the greatest memory,” Paz wrote Friday, adding that he was in Vegas with Duran’s son, Roberto Duran Jr., whom he trains. Paz also gave the Nevada Hall high marks.
“They have done a great museum here my gloves and Duran poster on display 50 wins 30 by KO 5 belts but most of all I [gave] the crowd their money’s worth !!” Paz wrote.