Middleweight is looking more and more like Minnesota’s strongest weight class.
The highest ranked fighter in Minnesota at this time is Jason Litzau, at featherweight. The highest current winning percentage is heavyweight Joey Abell’s .950 (based on his 19-1 record). And the most recent major titleist in Minnesota was “Iron” Will Grigsby, who held the IBF light flyweight title back in 2005.
But the deepest and widest division in Minnesota professional boxing is middleweight. Middleweight is where you’ll find Predators, Bullets, Kaos and K.O.s. The top four middleweights in our state sport a collective professional record of 96-20. Here’s a brief rundown, fighters listed in the order of most wins to fewest:
Matt Vanda – after his recent loss to Sebastien Demers, Vanda may be tempted to hang up the gloves. The knock on Vanda has been that his sporty 37-6 record is largely a product of tomato-can-wins and hometown decisions. But the fact is that Vanda is an aggressive brawler with a crowd pleasing style, and he’s proud to represent his hometown of Saint Paul. Word from one who was at the Demers fight is that the crowd gave Vanda an ovation afterwards for staying aggressive and not laying down or running away when things got tough. Think of Vanda as a poor man’s Mickey Ward, minus the legendary left hook.
Anthony Bonsante – The Bullet is a talented boxer and is quite well known, thanks to his appearances on “The Contender” TV show and his long and moderately successful career. Bonsante has the most losses of the middleweights profiled here (his record is 30-9) but he’s also had the most fights against notable competition, including John Duddy, Troy Lowry, Allan Green, Tony Ayala Jr, and JJ Corn. The 37 year old Bonsante must be getting tired of people asking how much longer he plans to fight. The truth is, Bonsante is still a good fighter and he’s tasted some successes lately. The best bet here is that, barring old-age injuries or a crushing defeat to a lesser man, he’ll be around for a couple more years.
Andy Kolle – Kaos has the look of a genuine up-and-comer. He’s tall (6’1″) and lean for the middleweight division, he has good power and a very good chin, and he’s seriously committed to furthering his career. Kolle has only lost once in his career (he’s 16-1), and that was to Olympic gold medalist Andre Ward, in a fight that seems to have actually enhanced his career. Kolle is beginning to suffer from the difficulty that plagues boxers in his situation: he offers enough talent to be an dangerous opponent, while at the same time he isn’t famous or glamorous enough to call his own shots. Kolle may be headed for great things, but it’s going to take skilled management to get him into position.
Kenny Kost – K.O. has the least dazzling record of the four (14-3) but it’s worth noting that two of his three losses came to Andre Ward and Andre Dirrell, two undefeated fighters who have become genuine contenders. Kost is a tough guy, not especially fast or powerful, but the type you wouldn’t want to bet against in a pinch. One suspects that like Kolle, Kost may have trouble finding the kind of opponents he needs at this stage in his career – guys who he has a reasonable expectation of beating, but who he won’t be embarrassed to have on his resumé. If he isn’t careful Kost may find himself being used as a trial horse for fighters ranked much higher than he is. There’s little doubt he’d like to enhance his credibility by fighting and beating some good boxers, but his career path so far may have been too ambitious, too soon.