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A Wiser Dana Rosenblatt Prepares For Vinny Pazienza
J. D. Vena

November 3, 1999

On August 23, 1996 a battle for New England bragging rights finished when a booming right hand crashed on Dana Rosenblatt's chin. In a fight that had been thoroughly dominated by the younger Rosenblatt's southpaw jab on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City, Pazienza violently overcame a closed left eye and a knockdown to end his developing problems with his fabled "Melvin Paul Punch." The same punch a year earlier nearly backfired on him when the ancient Roberto Duran timed Pazienza perfectly on two occasions and dropped him with a short counter right hands. Launching the punch at the less experienced Rosenblatt however proved appropriate.

For almost four rounds, Rosenblatt had almost proved that the new kid on the block was going to inherit the torch from the gallant "Pazmanian Devil." Many included the Vegas bettors felt the same way prior to the fight installing Dangerous Dana as a 5-2 favorite. As Pazienza has proved every now and then, counting him out can be a tremendous mistake. This Friday at a more convenient location at Foxwoods Casino in Ledyard, Connecticut, the New England rivals will wage yet another war for home turf supremacy.

This contest now has more implications than the original throwback ethnic matchup of Italian vs. Jew. It is a crossroads fight for both who dream of winning a world title. The bad blood that had also been spewing for their first fight is now boiling over the pot from remarks by Pazienza who has boldly stated: "I could break every bone in your body and feel no remorse!"

Recently, I met with Rosenblatt for some Q & A at his World Gym in Somerville, Massachusetts just outside of Boston. He had just finished an entertaining sparring session with #2 IBF rated junior-middleweight prospect, Ross Thompson (23-3, 16 KO's) and was practicing free throw shots with the gauze and tape he used to wrap his hands. Rosenblatt is very imaginable and witty. He is a student of the game in all facets. When his trainer Joe Lake asked "Who use to interview Muhammad Ali before Howard Cosell?" Dana immediately answered "Jim Jacobs. Tyson's old trainer." A few feet from the ring stood a boxing dummy with the letters "PAZ" written across its mock chest.

J.D. Vena: Do you think you might want to lower that dummy down to 5'7?

Dana Rosenblatt: (Laughs) Actually it was until someone adjusted it.

JDV: It's no secret that your rematch with Pazienza on November 5th has a lot of bad blood involved. Paz has been pretty vocal about his animosity towards you. Are his comments helping you prepare mentally? Does it distract you?

DR: My father (known by his golfing buddies as Stevey) said a good thing today. He was talking to Ross (Thompson). He said 'One thing about Dana is he can talk to someone and hear something he doesn't like and just walk away. It doesn't make a difference to him.' If I really cared about Vinny, if he was my friend in other words, then I'd be concerned. But he's not so..

JDV: Do you think his hatred is more genuine or a political stunt?

DR: It could be. If you think about it though, since I came up and started capturing attention, he was the guy everyone around here considered on top. Then people approach him and say "Hey have you seen this new guy?" To the guy who is on top, it's a nuisance. If somebody comes up (through the ranks) around here and they ask me the same question, it's going to be a nuisance to me too. I wouldn't have anything bad to say about the kid, but that's the way Vinny reacts to it. Vinny will say "Oh this guy stinks" or this and that because he wants to be alone on the top of the hill.

JDV: You were unbeaten going into the Pazienza fight. Some fighters call losses a "blessing in disguise." Despite the fact that that you suffered the indignity of losing to someone who yourself and many others felt you could beat, has it been a blessing?

DR: It depends what you extract from it. I guess I've extracted a lot from it. So possibly it was a blessing in disguise. When you're on a meteoric ride to the top and all of a sudden you lose, you really rethink everything. You ask yourself questions "Should I be doing this? Am I good enough? Do I belong?" In your next fight out, you know if you do or don't belong. For me the real stamp of approval came in the first 30 seconds of my first fight out against Glenwood Brown. I broke my right hand which I use so much because I'm so naturally right handed when I hit Glenwood on top of the head. I had to fight the rest of the fight without my right hand and Glenwood is at least as good as Pazienza. They had a split decision a year ago and some people thought Glenwood won. So to do that four months after your first loss told me I definitely belong.

JDV: You also had a tough fight with Arthur Allen, another opponent who gave Pazienza a good tussle. In the 10th round you had to grit your teeth and rally back..

DR: In the Arthur Allen fight and the Terry Norris fight, I had severe dehydration. It was pretty bad. It was all because I didn't pay attention to how much salt I was putting into my body. After you go through six to eight weeks of training and you get your weight down you need to put back enough salt in your body. I drink water and everything but I was thirsty all of the time.

JDV: Were you essentially washing it out of your system?

DR: Well yeah. You wash it out and if you don't put salt back the water isn't going to stay in your system and you just flush everything out. By the 8th or 9th round of the Norris fight I was delirious. I was seeing black flashes. There was this dark background around Norris. I really had no idea what was going on. I actually have no recollection of the last few rounds. Luckily, I made it through the fight and the doctor told me "You are severely dehydrated!" My legs were turning green. I was nauseous. I was vomiting. I could barely stand up. They pumped me up with two bags of IV and I felt better about a week later. It was pretty scary.

JDV: Earlier in your career, you were knocking everyone out with raw power. Has part of your rebuilding process been to rely more on your boxing skills?

DR: Right. The name of the game is boxing and I'm trying to use more boxing skills.

JDV: Some people question your punching power, which is usually the last thing to go.

DR: I absolutely do (have my power). If you stand, and just trade with the guy in all your fights, then you're going to have a short career.

JDV: As you had done in the Norris fight, you were effective in outboxing Pazienza earlier on in the fight. You closed his left eye, bloddied his mouth and you dropped him with a sharp straight left hand. Will you be employing the same strategy with Pazienza since his style hasn't really changed?

DR: Right it stands for reason that I would utilize the same strategy because he's the same guy. To a certain extent, I'm not going to change either. That's the way I fight and that's the way I'm going to fight. I am going to keep my hands more inside. I got into a bad habit of holding my arms out, so I'll have my hands and elbows really tight to my body and my face. That's definitely the key for victory for me. Close defense, paying attention and being careful.

JDV: We saw Roy Jones Jr. get disqualified a couple of years ago when he pelted Montell Griffin after Griffin had voluntarily taken a knee. Jones' claim was that the referee didn't step in between the two fast enough to issue the mandatory 8 count and for all he knew Griffin could have jumped up and knocked him out. When you floored Pazienza in the first round, you instinctively walked towards the neutral corner, Vinny leaped up and nailed you with a left hook that you clearly couldn't see. Are you more prepared for Pazienza's tactics?

DR: Yeah definitely. At any point in the fight, I know I have to put my eyes on him and be prepared for him to do something dirty. When and if he does something like that, I'm not sure whether I'll answer back (with the same tactics) or have the referee address it or what. But I will be almost waiting for Pazienza to do something dirty because that's the way he fights. And Joe (Lake) is going to make sure the ref is doing his job in there. Arthur Mercante Jr. is doing this fight and he's excellent. He doesn't stand for any nonsense.

JDV: Did you lobby for an effective referee?

DR: He was assigned and I like him. He did my last fight and about four of my other fights. He's always done a good job.

JDV: The victor of this fight is deserving of a title shot. Assuming you're victorious, which world champion would you want to go after? Which weight class do you prefer to compete in?

DR: Well it's 160 because I'm not a super-middleweight. This fight at 168 is strictly for Pazienza only. Then, I'm moving back down to middleweight. I'm not big enough for this weight class. I have already made weight a week ago. So I'll move down after this fight and lobby to fight any of the world champions there.

JDV: Massachusetts hasn't had a world champion since Marvin Hagler departed after his loss to Sugar Ray Leonard in 1987. There has also not been a fighter of Jewish heritage to win the middleweight title since Jake LaMotta….

DR: Wait a minute. Jake was Italian.

JDV: Actually, Jake's mother was Jewish.

DR: The last Jewish champion of note was Mike Rossman, a light-heavyweight champion during 1978. The last Jewish middleweight champion was Solly Krieger back in 1939. Jake was Jewish though? That's good trivia.

JDV: Is it an added burden or does it motivate you to become world champion?

DR: It's not a burden. You have to welcome support. When you have a whole community rally behind you it's a good thing. I've had 36 fight behind me and the Jewish community has been behind me the whole step of the way supporting me. People identify with you on a religious basis and they support you for that. I actually get a lot of mail from people, Jews and non-Jews all over the world. How they get my address is anyone's guess. From Australia to Scandinavia. Prison imates write to me about how I bring them hope through my boxing considering the anti-semitism in our correctional facilities. It's just fantastic that through my activities in boxing I've been able to touch people and give hope. The Malden community (just outside of Boston) has also supported me from the beginning. We have done benefits for the Malden City Government. It's really been wonderful.

JDV: What can we expect November 5th from Dana Rosenblatt?

DR: Well every one of my fights, I have prepared for it as best as I know how. Everything within my power. And I put out everything I have in all of my fights. I try to be consistent in every one of my fights. Nobody can be consistent all the time, but my thing is to try to be as consistent as possible and maintain a certain level of getting better each time out. At 27 years old I think I'm finally coming into my own. I've spent years in the gym. I mean working with top qualioty guys like Ross Thompson for the past five weeks has been great. This guy has really helped me prepare being the top rated fighter he is. I'm very pleased with the way my training has been. It's just about as good as it can get. So people can expect me to come out and put on a great show. I'm definitely at my peak mentally and physically. So expect the best of me.


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