St Paul’s Jason Litzau started his professional boxing career with a spectacular 20-0 run, including 18 wins by KO. His career suffered an unexpected setback in December of 2006 when he was decked by the clearly inferior Jose Andres Hernandez in the 8th round of a fight that Litzau was winning by a comfortable margin. After chasing that shocking loss with three more wins against high-level journeymen, Litzau was given a shot at one of the featherweight division’s titlists, Robert Guerrero. A very slick southpaw, Guerrero picked Litzau apart for seven mostly uncompetitive rounds before flattening him twice in the eighth and taking the TKO win.
Today Litzau finds himself old boxing news with a record of 23-2 (19 kayos). He has been dismissed as a force in the featherweight division by most of the television talking heads and published boxing writers, though a few (Teddy Atlas and Joe Tessitore, for instance) haven’t been in such a hurry to write him off.
It’s never good to find oneself playing the “what if” game, wondering what might have happened “if only…” In this case, the temptation is to ask how Litzau’s situation would be different if he hadn’t gotten sloppy with Hernandez back in 2006 and let himself get hit with that haymaker.
What makes that game difficult to play in the boxing game is that a win against Hernandez probably would have sent Litzau down an entirely different road. Had he beaten Hernandez, he probably would have taken a step up in competition. Litzau’s most likely next opponent would probably have been Rocky Juarez, who it turns out was Hernandez’s next opponent. The result of that fight was that Juarez beat Hernandez easily and then faced (and lost to) the great Juan Manuel Marquez.
But Litzau didn’t beat Hernandez, didn’t fight Juarez, and now finds himself at a crossroads in his career.
Litzau has been candid in admitting that lefty Robert Guerrero wasn’t a good match for him, but that he took the fight because he needed a good payday. Now he needs a good win, and that means he needs a good matchup. With a handsome win – preferably by knockout – Litzau can resurrect his career, because he has a history of being an exciting fighter who produces thrilling, TV-friendly action. But with a loss Litzau would fade further into the background of the featherweight division, and let’s be frank, it’s easier to rise in the world rankings as an undefeated young slugger than as a boxer/puncher on a slow slide.
Is Jason Litzau washed up? It’s too early to say yes, but there’s been little to cheer about lately. If he can get back in the ring before fall the American Boy should be able to pick up where he left off before the Guerrero fight, picking off top 100 guys and taking occasional shots at higher ranked contenders. If that happens, it isn’t unfathomable that he could get another world title shot – and a guy like Litzau will always have at least a puncher’s chance.
The Fistic Mystic says: Jason Litzau still has a lot in his tank, if he can stay motivated and keep in shape. Expect to see Litzau on TV a lot, making plenty of money in the next few years – as long as he stays on top of his career and doesn’t let himself go physically or mentally.