Are There Any World-Class Boxers in Minnesota Today?

So how about it – are there any world-class boxers in Minnesota today?  There are certainly boxers who would like to answer that question with a resounding yes.  Some of them may be right.  Let’s look at the best and most famous fighters our state has to offer and see what the Fistic Mystic says.  (Boxers will be listed in alphabetical order so as not to offend anyone)

Boxer – weight (class) – record – analysis

  • Joey Abell – heavyweight – 20-2 (19 kayos) – Abell was probably no more than a fight or two from a shot at the big time before losing in shocking fashion to Andrew Greeley on April 26.  The loss to Greeley would probably not have been so damaging to Abell had he not already lost once in his career, to Arron Lyons a couple of years back.  Abell has some work to do to get back to the cusp of fame and fortune (where he was a little over a month ago), but as has been noted here before, white heavyweights do get second chances in America.  Abell’s recently announced plans to fight three times this summer, including a bout with former world cruiserweight champ Al Cole in September, should help – provided Abell wins out.  Verdict: not yet world class
  • Anthony Bonsante – middleweight – 30-9 (17 kayos) – Bonsante’s career is something of a mixed bag.  He’s beaten some very good opponents, but lost to some more.  In addition to wins against Matt Vanda, Troy Lowry, Tony Ayala Jr and JJ Corn and losses to John Duddy, Allan Green, Peter Manfredo and Jesse Brinkley, his resume also includes fights with such barking dogs as Reggie Strickland, Donnie Penelton, and Marris Virgil.  Nevertheless, Bonsante is one of the most accomplished boxers to represent Minnesota in modern times, and at age 37 still boasts a top-50 world ranking from Boxrec.  Verdict: borderline world class
  • Raphael Butler – heavyweight – 31-4 (24 kayos) – Raphael Butler is an interesting case.  Here’s a young man who won the 2004 national Golden Gloves heavyweight title, who has won 30 professional fights at a younger age than any other active heavyweight in the world.  And yet with 4 losses on his pro record, two of them to very pedestrian foes, Butler has a hard time getting anyone to take him seriously.  Graham Houston reported in 2007 that Butler’s own manager had urged him to retire after his third loss.  Butler’s situation could change dramatically, however, if he beats “Fast” Eddie Chambers when they square off on June 20.  Butler has an opportunity that won’t come his way too many times – to make a splash in a heavyweight division that lacks depth and flash, not to mention that it lacks successful Americans.  Verdict: not yet world-class
  • Andy Kolle – middleweight – 16-1 (12 kayos) – Kolle has done a good job of handling every obstacle that’s come his way so far.  His 16 wins include some tough competition – notably his decision win against Matt Vanda last fall – and his only loss was to Olympic gold medalist Andre Ward, a stoppage due to swelling around Kolle’s eyes.  However, there’s just not enough on the resume for us to elevate Kolle to world-class status yet.  On June 7 Kolle will face 34-9 Jonathan Reid – a couple of wins against fighters of Reid’s calibre would do much to fill out Kolle’s credentials.  Verdict: not yet world-class
  • Jason Litzau – featherweight – 23-2 (19 kayos) – Litzau was treated more fully in an article published here on May 20 titled “Is Jason Litzau Washed Up?”.  Suffice it to say here that one different outcome (against Jose Andres Hernandez) and his career might have taken a very different path to date.  Litzau has great tools and is well on his way to a fantastic career, but many boxing fans suspect that his chin will hold him back.  The Fistic Mystic thinks those fans underestimate Litzau.  Verdict: borderline world-class
  • Caleb Truax – light heavyweight – 6-0 (4 kayos) – Truax is at such an early stage in his professional career that he wouldn’t normally appear on such a list.  But Truax, a latecomer to amateur boxing who nevertheless won several regional tournaments in his short amateur career, has people talking.  He has also made a bit of a statement in the Boxrec rankings, already having spiked to nearly the top 100 in the world.  This young man has a blend of athletic ability, coordination, and intellect that makes him a very appealing prospect.  Despite all this, Truax is a long way from making his mark.  Verdict: a long way to go world-class
  • Matt Vanda – middleweight – 38-7 (23 kayos) – The unhappy truth about Matt Vanda is that he has fought the other three top middleweights in Minnesota (Bonsante, Kolle, and Kenny Kost) and lost to them all.  His signature wins, against Sam Garr and Yory Boy Campas, are considered questionable decisions by most observers.  What are we left with?  We are left with a prizefighter with 38 wins who still has a lot to prove.  Make no mistake: Vanda does have some good attributes, including a strong chin and a ton of courage.  But it’s what Vanda lacks that decides the case.  Verdict: not world class
  • Zach Walters – light heavyweight – 22-2 (17 kayos) – Walters is tantalizingly close to breaking through and becoming one of the world’s top light heavyweights.  The tall (6’4″), wiry, and powerful young man from Madagascar by way of Fergus Falls can make pretty good excuses for both of his losses (one was to a cruiserweight, the other to a highly ranked contender) and he has recently beaten a parade of aging veterans in convincing fashion.  Now Walters looks to step up in class.  In a recent news conference Walters and trainer Chuck Horton made it clear that they don’t expect Walters to fight much in this part of the country anymore.  Said Walters, “This is the last fight that we got booked in the area…I don’t know when I’m going to fight here again, so I want to make sure that I go out with a bang.”  Horton added, “I’m talking about the best in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, South and North Dakota, Chicago, and soon to be Missouri if we get our way fighting in St Louis this summer.”  Walters looks to the Fistic Mystic like the one fighter in Minnesota who really is poised to burst onto the international boxing scene.  Verdict: probably world class
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One response to “Are There Any World-Class Boxers in Minnesota Today?

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