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SAN DIEGO — Paul “The Ultimate” Vaden knew that he wanted to be a professional boxer when he was just 4 years old.

His biggest inspiration was Muhammad Ali. “I wanted to follow in his footsteps,” Vaden said.

It wouldn’t be until he turned 8 when he received his first pair of boxing gloves. From then on, it became a way of life.

“It gave me an opportunity to have full access to learning this trade, learning the craft better, the artistry behind it and so I consumed it all,” Vaden said.

It wouldn’t take long for Vaden to climb the amateur rankings, remaining unbeaten for nearly seven and a half years in more than 330 bouts.

Vaden would get his shot at being a world champion on Aug. 12, 1995, taking on Vincent Pettway in the World Super Welterweight Title. “The Ultimate” was a 3-1 underdog but in the final minute of the final round, he would make history by becoming the first San Diegan to win a world boxing title.