Pazienza feels up to challenge


PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Roy Jones Jr. routinely refers to himself in the third person.

This annoys Vinny Pazienza, who will be challenging him for the International Boxing Federation's super middleweight championship next weekend in Atlantic City, N.J.

Naturally, Jones is as unconcerned about Pazienza's feelings on this as he is about the way he comes across to most of his listeners.

"I talk about Roy Jones Jr. in the third person because he's badder than three people," the 26-year-old former Olympian told an audience of about 50 during a telephone news conference last week.

Jones was at his politically correct best, though, when he praised Pazienza for his talent and courage, adding that he expects the Rhode Islander to give him a longer, tougher fight than the one Antoine Byrd managed three months ago.

That won't necessarily be a stirring feat, because Byrd didn't survive the first round.

"Anyone who's confident enough to challenge Roy Jones has to have my respect," Jones said. "I'm no oddsmaker, but he doesn't deserve to be a 20-to-1 underdog or whatever he is because you can never take anyone for granted in this sport."

Maybe not, but when a member of the crowd suggested that Jones should be prepared for an all-out war, the champion fairly bristled.

His response to a question suggesting that he might be facing 100 or more punches a round may have been contrived to sound ominous, but it certainly defined his true opinion of Pazienza.

"I can get hit 100 times," he growled. "He gets hit once, you can forget about it."

The wise guys on Las Vegas Boulevard apparently agree.

According to Pazienza's trainer, Kevin Rooney, Jones opened as a 15-22 favorite in the 12-round fight. "That means you'd have to bet $22 on Jones to win a buck," said Rooney, "but it'd take only a buck for you to win $15 betting on Vinny."

Pazienza seemed as unconcerned about the odds as he was about Jones' threat to flatten him. Pazienza suggested he is unimpressed that the undefeated Jones has knocked out 25 of his 28 opponents.

"He's a very good fighter," said Pazienza. "If I had to compare him to anybody I've faced, I'd say he's something like [Hector Macho] Camacho. But I feel very confident about this fight. I'm not worried at all."

Pazienza, 32, a three-time former world champion who is 40-5 as a professional, will earn at least $1.3 million as his share of the gate at the Atlantic City Convention Center and from pay-per-view television rights.

He also hope to earn the respect of New York boxing writers, many of whom, he believes, have failed to give him credit for being much more than a cocky kid with a big heart.

"People are saying it's going to be a moral victory if I go past the third round," said Pazienza. "That's a joke. I really feel like I'm gonna lay some hurt on him. He's never been in a war before."

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