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Giovanni Parisi


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Giovanni Parisi was one of the best Italian boxers ever and, along with Michele Piccirillo, the best that fought in the 90's and 00's. He was technically skilled, fast and had power, which is attested in the 29 knockouts he scored in 41 wins. He captured two world titles as lightweight and super lightweight/light welterweight. Tragically, he is the last Italian boxing champion to die prematurely in a traffic accident. He also holds the distinction as the only Italian world champion to fight Julio Cesar Chavez and he went the distance against him.


He was born 2 December 1967 in Vibo Valentia, the southern province of Calabria in Italy. As amateur, he first participated at the world junior championships of '85, where he lost in the second round and in '87 he was eliminated in the first round from both European junior championships and Mediterranean Games. But next year, he surprisingly became the Olympic champion as a featherweight, the only Italian who had that honour. He turned pro early next year and won three of his first fights by stoppage, winning 12 until he was surprisingly knocked out in 3 by unheralded Antonio Rivera. He continued fighting undeterred and then in September '91 won the national title lightweight title by knocking out Stefano Cassi in 2. A year later, he was given a chance to win the vacant WBO title against Francisco Javier Altamirano, then 37-3, in Voghera, Northern Italy. He halted Altamirano by TKO 10 to win his first world title. He then made his first defense against undefeated Michael Eyers of England and beat him by a lopsided decision. He then avenged his only loss to Antonio Rivera, but by a close unanimous decision. He vacated the title after that to move up to light welterweight division. In 1994 he had his first three fights in USA and the first in the new division. First he defeated Mike Bryan by TKO 1, then koed Richie Hess in 2, before scoring his most impressive victory against former IBF lightweight champion Freddie Pendleton. Parisi edged Pendleton by a split 10-round decision. This win got him a fight against Julio Cesar Chavez and it happened on 8 April '95. Chavez only had one loss and 92 victories and was still considered one of the greatest fighters in the world, though his star had taken a fall after the controversial draw against Pernell Whitaker and the loss to Frankie Randall. The young Italian "upstart" gave him a brave fight but was in the end outfought by the older and more experienced Chavez. The judges scored the fight overwhelmingly for Chavez, but two of them gave Parisi two rounds at least.


So went his chance to get his hands on the WBC title, but another chance soon came-to get the WBO title. He didn't have to go abroad this time to fight against Sammy Fuentes of Puerto Rico, who held the WBO belt. After seven even rounds, the champion was slightly ahead on the scorecards, when Parisi went all out and stopped him. In his first defense he faced the dangerous puncher and knockout artist Carlos Gonzalez of Mexico, who himself was the former WBO 140 pound champion previously. The fight ended as a draw but that wouldn't be the last Parisi would see of the man. In his next fight he beat Sergio Rey Revilla by KO 4 and then convincingly beat the American Harold Miller by TKO 8, winning all the rounds on the scorecards. His fourth defense was against Liverpudlian Nigel Wenton and once again Parisi won by a stoppage in 8, this time by corner retirement. In his fifth and last successful defense he beat Jose Manuel Bendonce by UD. He had held the WBO title for 2 years now and would lose it in a rematch against Gonzalez, on 29th May 1998. In a brave fight, the Mexican's heavier hands took the toll on the champion in the end and he was stopped in the ninth round by TKO. He then decided to become a full welterweight and after winning 2 fights, he was given a shot against the WBO champion at that weight, Daniel Santos of Puerto Rico. However, Parisi was no longer his old self after the punishment he took against Gonzalez and despite a brave showing, he was rather easily blown out by the hard-hitting Daniel Santos in 4 rounds. In his last fight 8 October 2006, he took on the Frenchman Frederic Klose for the European welter title but lost by a MD12. He was now 39 and retired with a record of 41(29)-5-1.


Tragedy struck only 2 and a half years after his retirement, when he was driving on 25 March 2009 through Voghera, where he ironically won his first world title, when he crashed head-on with a truck. He died on the spot, aged 41. His boxing nickname was Flash, but again through a twist of tragic irony, it was speed that killed him.

Edited by BoztheMadman
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