Vinny Pazienza outhustled Greg Haugen yesterday, capturing a 10-round unanimous decision in Atlantic City, the third meeting between the two former lightweight champions.
Haugen and Pazienza, who split International Boxing Federation lightweight championship bouts in 1987 and 1988, started slowly in this non-title bout.
Pazienza, 27, of Cranston, R.I., built an early lead using quick lateral movements before Haugen, 29, slowed him with body shots, particularly in the sixth through eighth rounds.
Pazienza, however, rebounded and controlled the last two rounds with a strong body attack and left hooks to the head.
Judge Rocky Castellani scored it 96-94, Deborah Barnes had it 98-92 and Eugene Grant, 97-93.
Pazienza lashed out at reporters afterward.
"You guys had me in a coffin before this fight," he said. "I wasn't supposed to be able to do anything. Well, I won this fight on ability. Boxing ability, the kind you would never admit that I have."
Haugen had a different opinion. "I'm sure Vinny thinks it was a great fight, but it was a lousy fight," he said. "He won the fight on what the judges thought was aggression. But it was flashes of aggression. I hit him as much as he hit me."
In June 1987, Pazienza (29-4, 23 knockouts) scored a 15-round decision over the previously undefeated Haugen to win the IBF lightweight title. Haugen, 25-3-1 with 13 knockouts, regained the title eight months later by decision.
In February 1989, Haugen lost the title to Pernell Whitaker on a 12-round decision. Pazienza lost his most recent fight, a 12-round decision to Hector "Macho" Camacho in February. . . .
Ray Mercer retained his IBF Intercontinental belt and added the North American Boxing Federation title to his collection with a 12-round unanimous decision over Bert Cooper.
Mercer (15-0, 11 KOs) suffered a cut lower lip in the first round and injured his left jaw and cheek in the sixth. The Essex County, N.J., resident was taken to a nearby hospital for stitches and X-rays.