“If you laid all the professional boxers in Minnesota end-to-end, it would look a lot like a Friday night on the road.”
In a moment of good humor a local boxing professional shared this wry observation with me.
It’s certainly true that Minnesotans haven’t done well on the road in the last few years. It’s a well-established pattern that our local boxers rack up the wins and fatten up their records in Minnesota and then go on the road to try to step up. It’s a good thing that they get paid, because that’s usually all they get for their trouble. Even our best boxers do it. Here, for example, are the 2008-09 road records of some of Minnesota’s most popular and successful pugilists:
- Joey Abell 3-2 (Ratko Draskovic, Maurice Wheeler, Alfred Cole, Jason Nicholson, Billy Willis)
- Anthony Bonsante 0-1 (Adonis Stevenson)
- Willshaun Boxley 1-3 (Barbaro Zepeda, Eric Hunter, Arash Usmanee, Ronny Rios)
- Raphael Butler 2-4 (Kerry Biles, Eddie Chambers, Homero Fonseca twice, Marvin Hunt, Malik Scott)
- Chris Holt 1-0-1 (John McLean, John McLean)
- Andy Kolle – 0-1 (Paul Williams)
- Jason Litzau 2-1 (Robert Guerrero, Verquan Kimbrough, Johnnie Edwards)
- Caleb Truax 1-0 (Thomas Rittenbaugh)
- Matt Vanda – 0-4 (Sebastien Demers, JC Chavez Jr twice, John Duddy)
- Zach Walters 0-1 (Byron Mitchell)
- Phil Williams – 0-1 (Don George)
- Cumulative Record: 10-18-1
So seven of the ten fighters listed here compiled losing records on the road in 2008-09.
It’s appropriate at this point to acknowledge the extenuating circumstance: It’s a given in boxing that the tougher fights are on the road. Once a fighter has made himself road-worthy, it’s normal for him to get tough tests on the road and showcases at home.
But there are a couple of flies in that ointment, for while Minnesota boys occasionally go on the road and lose to big-name opponents, the reverse isn’t true; big-name opponents don’t come to Minnesota and lose to local boys. It may be that the best home-state win for a Minnesota boxer against an out-of-towner in the last two years was Wilton Hilario’s trouncing of Leon Bobo, decidedly un-super despite his 18-3 record, in November 2009. Also, it’s pretty obvious that only one of the ten victories listed above was truly significant, and that was Jason Litzau’s pasting of then 21-1 Verquan Kimbrough. Not surprisingly, Litzau is the only boxer in Minnesota who has established his world-class credentials.
Is there any hope for improvement? There sure is! There are some really promising young fighters coming up through the ranks who could reverse this ugly trend, most notably unbeaten middleweight prospect Caleb Truax of Osseo and light middleweight Javontae Starks, a new pro with a stellar amateur resume, of south Minneapolis. Not to be forgotten is Robert Brant, an amateur with his eye on the 2012 Olympics in London – Brant’s natural giftedness already has people talking about his potential as a professional. And there are others – too many to list here, in fact. Things are looking up!
The Fistic Mystic says: Keep your chin up, Minnesota boxing fan – we have some good prizefighters operating now, and there are reinforcements coming!