PROVIDENCE, R.I. (CN) – Vinny Paz, a boxing champ who fought his way back into the ring with a broken neck, claims in court that a forged signature cost him the rights to his life story.
A year before suffering his spinal injury in a car crash, Vincenzo “The Pazmanian Devil” Pazienza in 1991 became only the second fighter in boxing history to win both the lightweight and junior middleweight world championships. Doctors said he’d never walk again, but the Rhode Island native won his comeback match just 13 months after the accident.
“Bleed for This,” a feature film about the boxer’s story, came out in 2016. Despite positive reviews about the performance of “Fantastic Four” alum Miles Teller, the movie generated just $6.7 million at the box office. Aaron Eckhart, Katy Sagal and Ted Levine star in supporting roles.
Paz, who made the abbreviation his legal name in 2001, filed suit on May 13, claiming that Beverly Hills producer Ben Younger paid him just $25,000 of the $200,000 he was promised.
Now living in Warwick, Paz tells the Kent County Superior Court about reaching that number in negotiations with Chad Verdi, a fellow Rhode Islander who “held himself out to be negotiating the purchase of the life story for Ben Younger.”
Verdi also paid Paz $100,000 “for promotional events, including personal appearances, signings and training provided to a boxer,” but the complaint says this amount is unrelated to the promised $200,000.
After approaching the production company about the balance owed, Paz says it fabricated three agreements and forged his signature on them.
Paz says the most telling evidence the contracts are forged is that they identify him as “Vinny Pazienza,” since he “refuses to sign documents that do not correctly use his legal name.”
Younger Than You Productions Inc. used these falsified agreements to claim ownership over and resell Paz’s life story, all while cutting him out of any profit therein, according to the complaint.
The complaint describes Younger as the owner of both Bleed For This LLC and Younger Than You Productions Inc. Paz wants damages from them and from Verdi for breach of contract. The production company is the only defendant to the forgery count.
Paz is represented by Andrew Tine. The Barrington, Rhode Island, attorney has not returned a call or email seeking comment.