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International Boxing Hall of Fame   1 Hall of Fame Drive   Canastota, NY 13032  P: 315.697.7095 F: 315.697.5356

A "Night of Champions" planned for November 18th

CANASTOTA, NY – OCTOBER 25, 2004 – A Boxing Hall of Fame "Night of Champions" featuring 5-time world champion Vinny Paz and heavyweight champion Leon Spinks, is scheduled for The Empire Room at the NYS Fairgrounds on Thursday, November 18, 2004.

"The 'Night of Champions' promises to be an exciting time for all sports fans in Central New York," said Hall of Fame director Edward Brophy. "It's a tremendous opportunity to mingle with the legends of the sport of boxing."

The evening will run from 7:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and consist of photograph and autograph opportunities, food and beverages, silent and live auctions, fight films, and speeches by the celebrity guests.

Canastota's two world champions, welterweight and middleweight Carmen Basilio and welterweight Billy Backus will also attend the festivities.

Also, the 2004 Central New York Boxing Appreciation Award will be presented to referee Bob Fenocchi of Syracuse for his contribution to the sport of boxing in Central New York.

Boxing out of Cranston, Rhode Island, the "Pazmanian Devil" compiled an impressive 100-12 amateur record, including a 1981 national championship bout at the Carrier Dome. In a 21-year pro career he registered 50 wins and captured five world titles, including the IBF lightweight and WBA junior middleweight belts. Amazingly, Paz fought just one year after suffering serious injuries in a 1991 auto accident. Beloved by fans for his heart and relentless style, Paz has scored wins over Greg Haugen, Lloyd Honeyghan, Glenwood Brown, Dana Rosenblatt and Roberto Duran.

Known as "Neon" Leon, Spinks captured gold at the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games. On February 15, 1978, in only his 8th pro bout, Spinks defeated Muhammad Ali for the world heavyweight championship. During his career he engaged in bouts with Larry Holmes, Scott LeDoux, Tex Cobb and Dwight Qawi among others. Spinks and his younger brother Michael made history by becoming the only brothers to win Olympic gold medals and the world heavyweight championship. Leon's son, Cory, is the reigning welterweight champion of the world.

Basilio, nicknamed "The Upstate Onion Farmer," was born in Canastota, NY. He twice won the world welterweight title, first from Tony DeMarco in 1955 and then from Johnny Saxton in 1956 before defeating Sugar Ray Robinson for the middleweight championship in 1957. With an aggressive, charging style and a powerful left hook, Basilio scored wins over Lew Jenkins, Ike Williams, and Billy Graham among others during his career. His pro record reads 56-16-7 (27KOs). In 1990, he was elected into the Boxing Hall of Fame.

Backus turned pro in 1962 and was ranked in the Top 10 by 1968. On December 3, 1970, behind an aggressive, slugging style, he defeated welterweight king Jose "Mantequilla" Napoles via 4th round TKO to take the championship. He held the title until 1971 and remained a Top 10 force until his retirement in 1978. During his championship career he registered wins over Jerry Pellegrini, Percy Pugh, and Manuel Gonzalez among others. Backus remained in boxing for many years as a deputy commissioner with the New York State Athletic Commission.

Tickets are $50 and can be purchased by calling Don Hamilton at 315-469-5088 or the Boxing Hall of Fame at 315-697-7095. Only a limited number of tickets will be available. All proceeds will benefit the Boxing Hall of Fame.
Vinny Paz
Leon Spinks
Carmen Basilio
Billy Backus