In Milan on October 8, Giovanni Parisi will be back in action facing European welterweight champion Frederic Klose. Many journalists believe that it will be an hard task for the Italian since he has fought only four times in the last six years, while the Frenchman fought 20 bouts (18 wins and 2 losses) during the same period, winning two Euro belts in the process. The critics forget that Giovanni Parisi accomplished what nobody else among the Italian fighters of his generation could: he won the Gold Medal at the 1988 Olympics in the featherweight division and later became WBO world lightweight and light welterweight champion, building a professional record of 41 wins (29 KOs), 4 losses and 1 draw.

Giovanni Parisi has also faced many more top-ranked opponents than Klose and defeated most of them. The biggest names in Klose’s record are Michel Trabant and Oktay Urkal. With all due respect for the two Germans, they cannot be compared to world champions Antonio Rivera (IBF featherweight), Freddie Pendleton (IBF lightweight), Carlos Bolillo Gonzalez (WBO light welterweight, twice), Sammy Fuentes (WBO light welterweight), Daniel Santos (WBO welterweight and light middleweight) and to the legendary Julio Cesar Chavez. Add to that list dangerous contenders like Mexican lightweight champion Javier Altamirano, tough hitter Micheal Ayers (who had a record of 13-0 with12 KOs and later became IBO lightweight champion), Harold Miller (who had lost in seven rounds to WBO light welterweight king Zack Padilla) and respected Spaniard Jose Manuel Berdonce.

Having faced high-level competition for a good part of his career, Parisi should be able to find the right strategy to defeat Klose. The Italian is far superior to the French fighter in terms of technique and sheer power. Klose’s record is made of 38 wins and 5 losses, but he KO’d his opponents only 8 times. That doesn’t mean that Klose is not dangerous: he hammers his rivals for twelve rounds without much effort, proving to be in excellent physical condition, and never lost within the distance. Maybe he is tough, maybe he knows how to avoid being hit, maybe he has both those skills. He’s the European champion and has been a professional for thirteen years. In short, he knows how to get the job done.

I believe that Giovanni Parisi will knock out Frederic Klose. There’s no doubt that Parisi can do it. Here in Italy, we all remember how Parisi won the WBO lightweight championship back on September 25, 1992, at the Voghera Stadium. Giovanni Parisi was knocked down twice in the opening stanza by Javier Altamirano, whose record stood at 37-3-3. The 5,000 people in attendance were shocked, but Parisi immediately reacted by showing the he still believed he could win. In the following rounds, the action turned furious and both fighters had their moments. In the 10th stanza, the crowd was shocked again: Parisi delivered a perfect right hook to Altamirano’s face sending him down for much more than ten seconds. It was a performance that would have been appreciated by the American audience too.

Many more thrilling victories followed and that’s why Don King wanted to manage Parisi and matched him against Freddie Pendleton and Julio Cesar Chavez. Both fights took place in Las Vegas. On September 17, 1994 at MGM Grand the Italian defeated Pendleton on points after ten rounds. On April 8, 1995 at Caesars Palace, WBC light welterweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez retained his belt over Parisi by unanimous decision. Another tough opponent for Parisi was Carlos Bolillo Gonzalez. On June 20, 1996 they fought to a draw. I remember some great exchanges that would have put everybody else to sleep, but Parisi and Gonzalez never quit. The judges saw it 114-112 for Parisi, 114-112 for Gonzalez and 114-114. On May 29, 1988 Parisi said no mas during the 9th round because he wasn’t motivated anymore. Roberto Duran did the same against Ray Leonard and fans in New York sports bars are still talking about it.

Given Parisi’s spectacular boxing performances, theatrical way of talking (his press conferences are always entertaining), unpredictable attitude and his Olympic Gold Medal, I always thought that he could have made a fortune if he spent his entire pro career in the United States. In the boxing business, everybody knows him. When I asked Angelo Dundee about Italian fighters, the first name that he mentioned was Giovanni Parisi.

Besides, Giovanni was born in the Calabria region and that’s a big plus in America. I met many top guys of Calabrese blood during my trips to New York, Florida, New Jersey and Georgia and they all welcomed me with open arms because I shared their same origin. Angelo Dundee, for example, was born in Philadelphia from Calabrese parents. I was born in Milan, from Calabrese parents. That’s incredible, but our parents were all born in the province of Cosenza and the villages are just a few miles from each other. I have as many contacts in the U.S. as I do because of my Southern Italian blood. I share the same values, talk the same way and have the same character as many of the Americans I met. Having Calabrese blood is very important in Australia too. When I interviewed Russell Crowe, he told me that he has many friends in the Italian community and they are all from the Calabria region. The very first time Russell decided to come to Italy, he choose to visit Tropea and Lametia Terme and liked them a lot. How did I get to Russell? I asked Angelo to call him and he did it. About a week later Russell called me and said: “Angelo asked me to do this interview and I did it. Don’t you consider a privilege being a friend of Angelo Dundee?”  No doubt about it.   

Going back to Giovanni Parisi, he said that beating Frederic Klose will be just a step toward the world welterweight title. Parisi wants to be the first Italian to become world champion in three weight divisions. That accomplishment could put him in the Hall of Fame.

The October 8 show will be promoted by Salvatore Cherchi’s OPI 2000 and Parisi Flash Promotion. European flyweight champion Andrea Sarritzu (25-3-3) will defend his belt for the first time against Christophe Rodrigues (13-13-2). On paper it looks like a mismatch, but Sarritzu and Rodrigues already fought twice: the first battle ended in a draw (6 rounds), while Sarritzu won the second one on points (8 rounds). Sarritzu told me that Rodrigues is the classic “ball-buster” who gives everybody an hard time. The Sardinian is sure that it won’t be a walk in the park. Four more bouts will take place, the names of the fighters will be announced shortly. A sold-out audience is expected, as usual when Giovanni Parisi fights in Milan.