R.I.P Giovanni Parisi

by James Slater - In sad news, it has been reported that Italian boxing great Giovanni Parisi died yesterday when he was involved in a car crash in his homeland. Apparently, the car the 41-year-old was driving hit a truck on Wednesday evening, and Parisi died instantly. A genuine hero in Italy, Giovanni captured a gold medal for his country at the 1998 Seoul Olympics when he boxed as a featherweight. A superbly talented operator, Parisi would go on to capture world titles at two different weights as a pro..

Nicknamed "Flash," Parisi turned pro at the age of twenty-one with a 3rd round stoppage of Kenny Brown in Feb. of 1989. Much of his early career was fought in Italy, but Parisi also boxed and won in Atlantic City, New Jersey and in Moscow, Russia. After an upset 3rd round KO loss at the hands of Antonio Rivera, the Italian lightweight worked his way back into world title contention. After having captured the Italian 135-pound championship in 1991, Parisi won the vacant WBO lightweight title with a 10th round TKO over Javier Altamirano the following year.

Two successful defences followed - including one that saw him avenge his loss to Rivera, this time out-pointing the man who had KO'd him - before the Italian moved up in weight and boxed four consecutive times in Las Vegas. Scoring a fine points win over Freddie Pendleton in late 1994, Parisi then fought the fight many fans remember him best for. Challenging the great Julio Cesar Chavez for the Mexican's WBC light-welterweight belt, Parisi lost a near shut-out in Las Vegas in early 1995. Still, Giovanni did not disgrace himself against Chavez, who at the time still had a lot left.

Three fights later, the now 28-year-old did manage to become a world champion for a second time. Stopping Sammy Fuentas inside eight rounds to capture the WBO 140-pound belt, Parisi went on to defend it some five times. Parisi had won the belt in Italy, and all five retentions took place there. Then, in May of 1998, his run ended as he was stopped in the 9th by Carlos Gonzalez (a man he'd previously defended his title against with a draw), also in Italy.

Two wins later, Parisi moved up in weight again and challenged Daniel Santos for his WBO 147-pound championship. Losing by KO in four rounds, the Italian had boxed his last world title fight. Carrying on and off for a further four bouts, all but one of them taking place at home, Parisi finally retired in late 2006, after an unsuccessful European welterweight title challenge. Losing on points to Frederic Klose, Parisi called it a day with a fine 41-5-1(29) record.

A skilful boxer who met the best, Giovanni Parisi will be sadly missed - especially in his native Italy.

Article posted on 26.03.2009

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