Look up the definition of the term ‘quintessentially tough’ in the dictionary, and you will perhaps find a photo of Greg Haugen. Haugen, who fought so many big names at 135 and 140 pounds – Jeff Bumphus, Freddie Roach, Jimmy Paul, Vinny Pazienza, Pernell Whitaker, Hector Camacho, Ray Mancini, Julio Cesar Chavez, Tony Lopez – really was a tough hombre.
A world champion at both weights, Greg winning the IBF lightweight title and the WBO 140 pound title, Haugen finished with a hard-earned 40-10-1(19) record. It could be the bitter rivalry Haugen had with Pazienza, now Vinny Paz, that is best remembered from Haugen’s career though.
Haugen, now 63 years of age, had some interesting things to say about Paz, and about Hector Camacho, when he spoke with Slater’s Boxing recently.
A genuine down to earth character the likes of which the sport could do with more of these days, Haugen says his wins over Pazienza and Camacho still mean a lot to him.
On his rivalry with Pazienza:
“Vinny Paz, he was a pretty white boy who felt he was a lot better than me, you know,” Haugen told the You Tube channel. “He told me he was gonna knock me out, he was gonna do this and he was gonna do that. But I don’t know any guy that won a fight who then spent three days in the hospital after the fight. Because that’s where he was for three days after we fought (the first time) because I beat the s**t out of him! He just kept on running his mouth, before the second fight, and the second fight I beat him up even worse.
“And they [the judges] gave me that fight because it was in Atlantic City, and he [Paz] didn’t have a hometown crowd. He was supposed to fight me in Vegas, but he didn’t have the balls to fight me in Vegas. The closest [to Providence, Paz’s hometown] was Atlantic City. And like my manager said, ‘what’s the difference between Atlantic City and Providence? 500 miles and 10,000 dagos!”
On his rivalry with Camacho:
“I’d have to say either the second Vinny fight or the first Hector fight was my best. I had sparred Hector, about ten years before we fought. He thought I was some hill-billy white boy and he was up there promoting his fight, when he fought John Montes. So he wanted some publicity and some sparring, in front of the reporters and s**t. So, we were supposed to go ten rounds on the Friday, and then spar again on Saturday. On the Friday, we sparred and there was like 5,000 people in there. And he came out and he started dropping bombs on me, trying to knock me out in a sparring session!
“So I said, ‘oh, okay, you wanna start dropping bombs, I’ll start dropping f*****g bombs!’ So I did and I busted his nose and his mouth. So that went four rounds and for the Saturday when we were supposed to spar [again], his manager calls me and he says, ‘oh, Hector’s got to leave.’ But later that night, at the strip club, I ran into Hector! I said, ‘hey, I thought you had to leave!’ That was a crock of bull s**t. He didn’t want no f*****g sparring with me no more. And when we did actually fight, I had watched Hector for years by then. I knew he liked to fight only a minute-and-a-half each round. He’d use the rest of the time to hit and grab, you know? Doing all his shuck and jive and all that crap. That’s the way he fought, for a minute-and-a-half or two minutes and then he’d do all his s**t to kill time.
“My plan going in was to pressure him to fight three minutes of every round. Because I knew, if he did that, by the sixth round, he’d feel like he’d fought a full fight, which he’d never actually done. You know, he was always bull s******g around to take rests in each round. And it happened, he got tired, and he couldn’t move like he wanted to. I wore him down, with body shots, I could hear him wincing, and I knew he was tired, so my plan worked. The second fight, he got himself in better shape and he said he won that fight (Camacho getting the decision this time) but I think I won the second fight more [clearly] than I won the first fight.”
On his fight with Tony “The Tiger” Lopez:
“I had four abscessed teeth in that fight, and I couldn’t figure out why I was getting so tired. I found out after the fight. Usually I get really warmed up after four or five rounds, but in that fight I got tired after five rounds. He hit me with a couple of good shots and I had no legs. I only found out later I had four of five abscessed teeth, and that just drained me in there. Tony was a first class guy, you know. I remember hanging out with him when he was a junior-lightweight champion, and he never had nothing bad to say, he was a good guy.”
The same can be said of Greg “Mutt” Haugen.