Minnesota may not have instantly become the center of the boxing universe, but it’s heartening to see the scene suddenly so much busier than usual.
With two shows by Seconds Out in January we got off to a nice start in 2009. Another show in February inaugurated what is expected to be a series of fight cards at Epic Nightclub in Minneapolis. Tony Grygelko says that he has invested in a cage for MMA bouts and a return to Epic for an MMA-only event is planned for March.
Now several more shows are coming up – two of them promoted by Justin Seurer of MSC – as well as a couple of big road trips for Minnesota fighters. Here’s a brief overview:
Road Trippers and Local Events:
- Zach Walters (23-3) of Horton’s Gym in Duluth faces former two-time super middleweight world champion Byron Mitchell in Buffalo NY of all places, a fight which should give the winner a big career boost, whomever that may be. Walters stays in his usual weight class (light heavyweight) while Mitchell moves up for only the third time. Here’s hoping the Jungle Boy can take advantage of his length and athleticism to gain a huge win.
- Eastsider Matt Vanda (39-8) travels to the real center of the boxing universe on Saturday February 21 to face John Duddy (25-0) at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Duddy rose to prominence as the hottest of hot prospects for a couple of very good years before hitting a serious speed bump when Walid Smichet (Wally Who?) took him the distance in what turned out to be a non-unanimous ten-round decision win for Duddy. Since then Duddy’s reputation has suffered and his momentum has waned. The choice of Vanda, however much we might like him in Minnesota, bespeaks not a ton of confidence from Duddy’s handlers. It should be remembered by even the most casual of local fight fans that Duddy defeated Anthony Bonsante back in 2007, just two months after Bonsante had handily defeated Vanda.
- March 21 is the targeted date for a Seconds Out show at the St Paul Armory. This one is expected to include Willshaun Boxley and possibly Joey Abell, as well as Harley Kilfian, Jon Schmidt, and Dion Savage. Abell has elsewhere disclosed that he will fight in March, but it isn’t certain whether it will be in Sweden, Philadelphia, or St Paul.
- One week later, on March 28, Minnesota sees its biggest in-state matchup in a couple of years when Anthony Bonsante and Andy Kolle mix it up for the state middleweight title. This card, promoted by Justin Seurer, has been skilfully filled out by matchmaker Cory Rapacz with a ton of attractive young talent who probably aren’t demanding big money for their participation. Foremost among the remaining matchups is a battle between Antwan Robertson and Brad Patraw, and all the remaining bouts should be interesting in their own ways.
- Caleb Truax hopes to appear in St Louis on the same night, on the undercard of Cory Spinks-Deandre Latimore. According to Truax, if Grygelko is unable to get him on that Don King-Lou DeBella promoted show, he would expect to be inserted into the March 21 event mentioned above.
- A mixed boxing/MMA event featuring Raphael Butler is tentatively scheduled for April 4 in Rochester, but no details are yet available. More information should become available soon, and the Fistic Mystic will try to keep you abreast of developments.
- Target Center hosts an event scheduled for April 18, the card for which has not been filled out yet. But we know that Jason Litzau is expected to headline, with big brother Allen Litzau facing undefeated prospect Wilton Hilario in what has been described as the co-main event. Matt Vanda has been tentatively scheduled to appear in this show, depending on the outcome of his February 21 fight with John Duddy (mentioned above). The name of Shelby Pudwill has been dropped as a potential opponent, but obviously nothing is yet finalized.