Here’s the final End-Of-Year article from the Fistic Mystic commemorating the events of 2009. In the first two articles (Minnesota Boxing P4P and Risers/Fallers) we discussed who’s the best fighter in the state and who’s had the best year. In this article we’ll take a broader look at the best and worst moments and the most outstanding achievements in Minnesota boxing in 2009. Now please enjoy, and if you think you know better, honor me with a comment!
Knockout of the Year
Marcus Oliveria KO2 Otis Griffin on June 5th at Grand Casino Hinckley - Griffin used his speed and effective jabbing to blunt Oliveria’s attack in the first round, but somehow Griffin lost the plot in round 2. Maybe it was because Oliveria quit going to the body, or maybe it was because the pace of the fight had slackened, but Griffin allowed Oliveria to slip inside and land a wrecking-ball right uppercut that knocked Griffin full out.
Honorable mention: Andy Kolle TKO3 Anthony Bonsante, Caleb Truax TKO7 Patrick Perez, Dion Savage KO4 Jeffrey Osborne Jr, Javontae Starks KO2 Dan Copp (body shot)
Fight of the Year
Gary Eyer UD6 Levi Cortes on December 4th at Target Center - Cortes came out throwing bombs and for a short time it looked like Eyer might not even make it past the first round. But Eyer began landing counters and Cortes slowed, so that what had started out looking like a Cortes walkover turned into a thrilling slugfest. The pattern that held through most of the fight was that Cortes came forward throwing rights, while Eyer gradually figured out how to time him, sidestep him, and counter with both hands. The last 30 seconds of the fight consisted of a toe-to-toe punching contest. When it was finally over Eyer looked like he had been brutally beaten, but Cortes looked even worse – like he had been trampled by horses.
Honorable mention: Cerresso Fort UD6 Lamar Harris, Christopher Holt SD8 Jonathan Corn, Caleb Truax TKO7 Patrick Perez, Dave Peterson MD6 Corey Rodriguez
Worst Fight of the Year
Cerresso Fort KO1 Yancy Cuellar on August 14th at The Myth in Maplewood - In the first round, the hapless Cuellar went down like he’d been shotgunned, and laid on his face until he was counted out. Then he got up and casually walked back to his corner. I don’t know, maybe he really did recover that quickly. But it looked like shenanigans.
Dishonorable Mention: Tomi Archambault RTD2 over Ronnie Peterson (Peterson retires with a shoulder injury)
Worst Moment of the Year
Joey Abell NC1 Raphael Butler on December 4th at Target Center - This fight and its aftermath have been talked to death. It’s enough to say that the way it ended (an after-bell knockout following the first round) was a disaster for everyone involved, and hopefully none of the corner dwellers are proud of their in-ring behavior afterwards.
Dishonorable Mention: Michael Davis TKO6 Jesse Barbot (scary-violent knockout, Barbot suffers bleeding on the brain)
Best Performance on the Road
Jason Litzau RTD3 over Verquan Kimbrough on August 15th at Coast Coliseum in Biloxi, MS - Litzau beat the tar out of 21-1-2 prospect Kimbrough in a supporting bout on the Roy Jones-Jeff Lacy card, the fight was stopped after three rounds to save Kimbrough from further injury. With the win Litzau earned himself an appearance on ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights, which he used to beat Johnnie Edwards.
Honorable Mention: Jason Litzau UD10 Johnnie Edwards, Joey Abell, TKO3 Billy Willis
Prospect of the Year
Javontae Starks - Starks’ amateur credentials and professional potential will compel his management to handle him very thoughtfully and with great care, but Starks is confident and ambitious. He wants to fight a lot and go up the ladder quickly. Given the right opportunities at the right times, Starks should reach the upper echelon of Minnesota boxers quickly. After that, who knows what might happen?
Honorable Mention: Cerresso Fort, Wilton Hilario, Ismail Muwendo, Derek Winston, Danny Figueroa, Dave Peterson, Jeremy McLaurin
Boxer of the Year
Jason Litzau (26-2 with 21 kayos) - The American Boy got better press than any other Minnesota fighter this year with his relatively high-profile wins against Kimbrough and Edwards. Add that to the totality of his career work, and there’s nobody who can share this podium with him. Litzau is one of the best reasons to pay attention to boxing in Minnesota, even if he doesn’t often fight here.
Honorable Mention: Andy Kolle, Matt Vanda