The discussion began elsewhere, but you didn’t think I would pass on this opportunity for a new blog post, did you?
So who is Minnesota’s Fighter of the Year for 2008? The most prominent candidates, based on overall record, quality of wins, and some other less tangible factors like press and image, are Matt Vanda, Caleb Truax, Zach Walters, Anthony Bonsante, and Andy Kolle.
Obviously we wouldn’t give it to Vanda for meaningful wins alone, but he made a splash on the international scene and got a good payday as a result of his somewhat controversial first loss to Chavez Jr and their subsequent rematch. So he had a profitable year and got some good press.
Truax is clearly the fastest-rising prospect in the state but he doesn’t have great, meaningful wins yet. However, he did get his first two out-of-state wins this year, as well as his first two wins against opponents who also were coming off of wins.
Zach Walters was having a decent year until August, and a win against Shawn Hammack might have made him the FOY, if only on the basis of three wins against opponents with glossy records. But instead Walters lost by TKO after dominating the action for most of eight rounds, which eliminates him from contention.
Anthony Bonsante had a 2-1 record this year, but the wins (against Carl Daniels and Ted Muller) weren’t very significant and that one loss was a horrid and notorious stinker. Ugh.
Andy Kolle is a man who struggles to get fights. After more than six months of inactivity, Kolle finally found an opponent in Jonathan Reid (then 34-9). According to eyewitness accounts, Kolle dominated the scorecards by narrowly winning most of the individual rounds. It looked like a significant step forward for Kolle at the time, but in light of Reid’s next result (a 4th-round TKO loss to Maxim Vlasov) it may tend to lose some of its luster. On September 20th Kolle was given a chance to fight world welterweight titleholder Paul Williams, which ended badly for him. The 1st-round KO loss to Williams bumps Kolle out of contention for this award.
2008 hasn’t been a stellar year by any measure, more to come on that topic later. For now, my vote goes to Matt Vanda as Minnesota’s 2008 Fighter of the Year. Let’s hope for better results next year!