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Interview Greg Haugen – Part I
By Boxing Reporter and Writer Chris Cercola

Greg Lee Haugen was born in Auburn, Washington on August 31, 1960. After compiling an amateur record of approximately 300 – 25, Greg joined the local tough man competitions, where he went undefeated in 24 fights. He then would then set his sights to the pro ranks. And on November 4, 1980, Greg would make his pro debut by winning a unanimous decision over the 13 – 3 – 1, Noel Arriesgado, after an unusual fight that was scheduled for three rounds.

On July 17, 1985, Haugen would defeat Jeff Bumpus over 10 rounds; he would stop the Eddie Futch trained, Freddie Roach by TKO in seven on August 22, 1985. November 6, 1985 saw Greg stop Chris Calvin in six, and after Haugen stopped former world title challenger, Charlie ‘White Lightning’ Brown in one round, the boxing world begin to take notice. And May 23, 1986, he was matched against Edwin Curet, and after 12 rounds Greg would be declared the winner by unanimous decision, winning the NABF lightweight championship.

Haugen became the IBF lightweight champion of the world on December 5, 1986, defeating heavily favored Jimmy Paul by majority decision after 15 rounds. He’d relinquish his title in his very first offense to Vinny Pazienza via 15 round unanimous decision. Eight months later, Haugen would reverse the outcome by defeating the undefeated Pazienza and taking back his championship after 15 more rounds. In his next fight, Haugen would when an 11 rounds technical decision after originally being declared the loser.

On October 28, 1988, Haugen would travel to Denmark to defend his championship against the undefeated Gert Bo Jacobsen. Haugen stopped Jacobsen by TKO in the 10th round. Haugen would lose his title to US Olympic gold medal winner Pernell Whitaker by a 12 round unanimous decision on February 18, 1989.

Haugen would move up a weight class and score two TKO’s, one against Guillermo Cruz and the other against Robert Nunez before challenging old rival, Vinny Pazienza for a third time, August 5, 1990 after 10 rounds, he was declared the unanimous loser.

After returning and taking up to 10 round unanimous decision wins over Tommy Hanks and Billy Young respectively, Haugen got a shot at undefeated superstar Hector ‘Macho’ Camacho for Camacho’s WBO Junior welterweight championship. Haugen would make good on his opportunity by winning a split decision after 12 rounds only to lose it back to, Camacho on a 12 round split decision less than three months later.

Greg defeated Alphonso Perez before battling comeback backing Ray ‘Boom Boom’ Mancini for the NABF 140 pound championship. Haugen stopped Ray in less than seven full rounds, knocked out Francisco Lopez in two, and picked up a unanimous decision over Armando Campas before going to Mexico City to challenge the most popular man in Mexico, pound for pound great, and undefeated WBC junior welterweight champion, Julio Cesar Chavez in his prime, and fighting in front of 132,247 spectators, Haugen would lose by a fifth round TKO.

Haugen then stopped both, Darren Brennan and Ray Garcia, both in the sixth round, he then got stopped 10 rounds by three-time world champion Tony Lopez. After the Lopez fight, Haugen fought 12 more times, going 6 –4 – 1 – 1NC. Three of those fights were to a man named Paul Nave, whom Haugen fought three times, winning one, losing one, and having a draw turned into a no contest after Haugen failed a post-fight drug test, in what turned out to be Haugen’s final professional fight. Haugen won his second fight with Nave via split decision; the win gave Haugen the lightly regarded WBF welterweight championship. In the fight prior to Haugen’s last, he was stopped in the sixth round by Thomas Damgaard. 

I was born in Auburn, Washington, right outside of Seattle. It was pretty rough in that my mom was a single mother and she raised six kids. There weren’t a lot of luxuries. I can’t say that we lived a very high lifestyle that’s for sure. I had five brothers and sisters. It was pretty rough I am the oldest boy. I got an older sister, it goes girl boy, girl boy, girl boy, so I’m the oldest boy. I got two younger brothers and two younger sisters. I was always in trouble, I had fun fighting. I never really stole nothing; I never really got in trouble for doing none of that, all my trouble I got into was for fighting, and stupid school. Not listening… I had a problem with authority figures; I’ve always been in trouble, but nothing serious.

My dad was in the Marines, and I used to get my head shaved every Saturday whether I needed it or not. I was a pretty small kid, got picked on a lot in the neighborhood, my dad got tired of that, so the guy who was shaving my head every Saturday started a boxing club, he asked my dad if I wanted to join, and I was five years old, so I took to it. I liked it, and I was pretty good at it right away from what my coach said, it was just one of those things, it was one-on-one, see if you can break the other guy, and there was nobody to blame but you if things didn’t work out.

Five years old, I liked it right away it was back in 65’, back in the day when you can fight two times on Friday and Saturday to get to the finals on Sunday. Now, you can only fight once a day, once every 24 hours. I had about 325 amateur fights, losing about 25 of them. Fought some of the bigger names out there. I grew up around the Tacoma Boys Club; it was putting out some good fighters, Rocky Lockridge, Johnny Bumpus, Leo Randolph, Ray Seals… So many good fighters in this area, so I had some pretty good amateur experience. I fought a couple of times nationally, I started fighting at five years old, and I got tired of all the bullshit and the politics to the amateur thing. Up here, you have to belong to a certain club and when I was fifteen, I said screw it and I quit til I was twenty.

I hadn’t fought in five years, fought in the Olympic trials after couple of months of training. Took a bronze medal in the Olympic trials and got my nose broken the first fight and, two more fights to go… I could’ve made the Olympics, but that was the year of the boycott 1980 so nothing came of that. I Lost to a black kid named Bill White, he had three fights, all first round knockouts. I end up losing a close decision to him, and then he ended up losing to Dario Palacios… I think that we had some crappy judges for that year…

I moved to Alaska. I just happened to be sitting in a bar one night, and my buddies, you know, we’re all liquored up, and I let somebody talk me into joining a sideshow… They were just tough guys coming off the street, you know, “How much do you weigh, I weigh this much, how much do you weigh, I weigh this much, do you guys want to fight?”…”Yeah we’ll fight”, that’s how fights were made. So I let somebody talk me into it, and the next thing you know, I won 24 in a row. They never really liked me up there ‘cause I was from the lower 48, whippin’ all those local guys, they never really liked me…

I turned pro because I really like fighting and that was basically my next step in life, the amateurs then I got in the tough guys, and I got paid for fighting, and I didn’t want to go back to the amateurs, so I just decided to turn professional… My first fight was a 10 rounder, and my third fight I went 10 rounds. I never had a four round fight, so I was more suited for the long-distance, and I just love to fight, it didn’t matter where, when, who, I just wanted the fight line them up and I’ll fight.

I decided to leave Seattle to go to Vegas in 85’. I was getting calls from Vegas to come down and fight… I got several fights on short notice, and I had problems finding sparring. If I had sparring, it was mediocre. I went down there to get 100 rounds a day with champions and world-class fighters. You see a guy on TV, it’s a world-class fighter, and you’re holding your own in the gym, that’s good brain food you know what I mean, that makes you feel you belong. I think it was about 85’, I moved there I worked with Johnny Tocco first, in Johnny Tocco’s gym… He trained me for like, the first six or eight months so I got a call to fight Freddie Roach six days before the fight. I’ve been in the gym up here working out, I sparred Freddie before in Tocco`s gym, and I was physically so much stronger than him and pushing him around… I said “Sure, I’ll take the fight”, and Johnny decided since he worked with both me and Freddie in the gym, he chose to step aside and not work either one of our corners.

I started working with a guy named Stan Kischler, He knew what he was talking about, and Stanley pretty much knew I had a pretty good left at the start, but Stanley refined it and made it even better. I worked with him for a few years after that… I had sparred with Freddie. Freddie Roach was good, he was a tough guy, and he was well schooled. He worked with Eddie Futch. They were talking about how he had more knockouts than I had fights, and all they think I was, was a warm-up fight for his next fight. You know, when people start talking that, you know that means they’re looking down on me. They have a saying,”You may beat me, but it ain’t going to be easy.”

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