Tag Archives: Allen Litzau

Round-by-Round Report: August 28th, 2015 at Grand Casino Hinckley

Markus Morris (now 7-2 with 4 kayos) defeats Patrick Cape (now 6-12 with 3 kayos) by TKO at 1:54 of round one.

Round 1

The round begins with the fighters circling left.  Morris attacks first, catching Cape with an awkward punch, moving Cape’s head.  Cape escapes, no worse for wear, but Morris is the aggressor and resumes the attack.  Cape is is blocking Morris’s punches with his head in the early going.  Our fighters get into a phone booth and in a near-clinch Morris lands a solid left that drops Cape to his knees.  After the fight resumes there’s lots of rough stuff, with Morris landing lots of short hooks.  Cape is dropped again but beats the count, but looks a little disoriented in the neutral corner.  After another resumption, Morris attacks with purpose and Cape takes another short right, drops a third time.  Referee Mark Nelson stops the fight at 1:54 of round 1.

Raul Munoz (now 23-20 with 16 kayos) is defeated by Mohammad Kayongo  (now 18-4-1 with 13 kayos) by TKO at 2:14 of round 1

Round 1

Munoz starts out circling to Kayongo’s right.  Kayongo rotates to face his opponent.  Munoz throws several jabs to open the fight, but there’s no intent.  Munoz is moving, moving, moving.  Now Munoz steps forwar and lands one good left jab and moves out    Munoz is looking to score, but the next time he comes in Kayongo lands and chases him.    Munoz is moving, circling…he comes close again and Kayongo counters with a power shot.  ow the pattern is set, with Munoz stepping forward and Kayongo landing a wicked series of power punches.  Munoz looks wobbly for a moment, but collects himself and moves away.  One last time, the fighters close the gap, and Kayongo lands a killer combination of hooks to the body.  Munoz crumbles.  He’s grimacing as he rolls onto his back, and there’s no doubt it’s over.  Referee Gary Miezwa counts him out, and that’s a TKO win for the African Assassin.

Antwan Robertson (now 10-14-1 with 6 kayos) defeats  Philip Adyaka (now 4-6 with 2 kayos) by Unanimous decision after five rounds.  (48-47, 48-47,48-47)

Round 1

Adyaka leads things off with a snappy jab.  Both men feint, then both jab.  The fighters are measuring.  Robertson attacks like I haven’t seen him do in years, landing a one-two that scores nicely.  Robertson attacks again, but Adyaka counters.  Now Adyaka comes forward, landing a one-two.  Adyaka isses with a left hook and Robertson makes him pay with a double counter.  They tie up in the ropes, and breakk.  Adyaka is inching forward, leads with a triple jab, and scores.  Robertson is moving more, shuffling to his left.  Now Robertson retreats and gets into a corner.  Adyaka comes forward, but robertson runs.  They circle the ring, Adyaka finally attacking.  There’s an exchange that benefits neither man.  Ten seconds to go and Robertson tries to get busier, but Adyaka ties him up and lands several shots in the clinch.  The bell rings with Robertson trying to connect overhanded.

Round 2

Adyaka is coming forward in round two, the taller Robertson moving his feet to stay outside.  Now Robertson picks a spot and a clinch.    Robertson tries to touch and go, but gets caught by a left hook.  Adyaka comes forward, jabbing, and Robertson flurries then scoots.  Adyaka comes forward again and lands two of three power shots.  Robertson is staying outside, moving to hiss left.  Adyaka is looking for a big scores.  Robertson sticks and moves.  Adyaka steps in and lands a big left-right.    Adyaka steps forward and leads with a left hook that scores.  Adyaka is chasing, throws a double jab that bothers robertson.  Adyaka jabs and Robertson throws a counter that misses.  ten seconds to go, Robertson lands a hammering one-two.  There’s some shuffling, but no more offense before the sound.

Round 3

Adyaka is coming straight forward, leading with lunging jabs.  John Hoffman, in Robertson’s corner, keeps saying “He can’t tough you.”  But then Adyaka touches him with a serious one-two.  Robertson tries to swoop in, land, and move away.  Adyaka is getting closer, and there’s an occasional score, but …Adyaka finally gets inside and there’s a furious exchange.  Adyaka, bleeding from the mouth, rushes in and takes a big shot from Robertson.  His knees give, but he springs back up before hitting the deck.  Adyaka is infuriated, and comes forward again, throwing power shots.  Adyaka’s blood is on robertson’s shoulder and back.  Adyaka lunges forward, missing with wild power shots.  Robertson counters, landing a nice scoring shot.  Adyaka gets inside again, and Robertson ties him up.  They’re getting rough in there.  Miezwa tries to break them up, but Adyaka keeps throwing.  The bell rings.

Round 4

Adyaka comes looking for Robertson’s blood this round, and lands a number of power shots on Robertson’s guard.   Robertson is trying to keep him outside, but Adyaka’s aggression is hard to deny.  After a big flurry, Adyaka reins it in.  Adyaka tries to get inside, and Robertson lands a thunderous punch to the head that leaves Adyaka weak in the knees.  Adyaka is alert though, and resumes stalking Robertson.  now Robertson is glaring and flexing.  That kind of showboating can backfire.  Adyaka steps back and beckons Robertson, but Robertson isn’t biting.  Adyaka comes forward again, but Robertson stays away.  Robertson steps back one time to omany, gets his back into the ropes, and Adyaka catches him, but Adyaka can’t capitalize.  Ten seconds to go and Adyaka goes on the attack again, nearly ending up in a clinch, landing a left to the body at the bell.

Round 5

Ayaka knows he’s behind, and he’s looking for a big round.  Double jab, right hand from Adyaka.  Adyaka charges forward, Robertson has to leap out of the way and misses with a counter.  Tiny Adyaka, muscled like a bull, just can’t get inside on the lankier Robertson.  Adyaka comes forward with a triple jab but misses.  Adyaka charges forward again, landing several jabs to the body, but nothing showy.  Robertson seems content to run.  Adyaka traps Robertson against the ropes and lands two or three power shots to the body.  Coming forward again, Adyaka lands a big snapping right to the head.  Then again, and again.  Robertson retreats into a corner, Adyaka pursues and lands again.  This is Adyaka’s best round, as he has scored repeatedly on a shrinking Robertson.  The bell rings and both men turn away.  There is no evident love here.

The crowd boos the decision because they view this bout as a fight, instead of as a boxing match.  If it’s a fight, Adyaka wins.  Because boxing matches are scored like figure skating, Robertson wins.

George Carter Jr (now 12-0-1 with 6 kayos) defeats Ricky Smith (now 3-7) by Unanimous Decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-46)

Round 1

Smith and Carter meet immediately in the center of the ring, but they start out by pawing and feinting.  There’s a momentary pause, and Carter explodes with sudden power shots.  Smith is unfazed and scoots away.  Carter lands a power shot to the head, but Smith walks through it and clinches.  After the break, Carter attacks again with speed and power, but Smith is cagey and tough, refusing to be hurt.  Carter is forced to respect his opponent’s chin, if not his speed.  Smith dodges a left hook from Carter, and they clinch, then break.  Now there’s an exchange in which Smith actually lands a couple of punches, and for the first time this evening we’re going past the first round.  Bell.

Round 2

Smith looks more confident this round, poking the jab out and moving his head.  Carter is jabbing for measure.  There’s a break, then a clash that includes a bump of heads. Smith lands a right to the body before Miezwa breaks them up.  Carter is coming forward, looking for a big scoring punch, and bends Smith over with a punch to the midsection, but Smith doesn’t go down.  Smith is retrating and moving left, Carter is trying to put him away.  Smith’s corner tells him to “give him the business once in a while.”  Smith is holding his own this round.  He won’t hurt Carter, but he is scoring occasionally.  There’s another break, and Smith lands  ajab to the body.  Carter’s frustration is starting to show.  Smith dodges a punch and Carter growls in frustration.  Smith is showing some nifty moves, but one looks at that soft body and wonders how long he can keep it up.

Round 3

Carter is coming forward and loading up.  Smith is circling left.  Carter lands a flush shot to the head.  Smith responds with a glancing jab.  Carter’s speed and power are obvious, but his ring IQ is unfortunately not high.  Carter lands with a lead left that jolts Smith, but fails to follow up.  Smith is circling left again.  Carter misses with two jabs, but then lands two power punches.  Smith feints.  Carter throws a sweeping right that misses.  Smith throws a one-two that Carter ducks.  Carter is coming forward again, but Smith is proving hard to catch.  Now Smith comes forward with a triple jab, but nothing lands.  Carter with a left hook to the body.  Carter with a left jab to the head.  Smith is attacking ineffectually as the bell sounds.

Round 4

Carter is landing single shots to the body.  Now Carter flurries and lands a bomb.  The two meet in the center of the ring and trade, and the crowd cheers.   Carter continues to pursue and occasionally score.  Smith with a power punch to the head, there’s a rarity.  Carter comes forward and throws three punches, but Smith blocks.  Carter throws, Smith ducks, and Carter lands an overhand right.  There’s a close encounter and Carter is warned to keep his punches up.  Carter continues to press the action, and finally is rewarded when he lands, then lands again.    Smith jabs.  Carter steps into a left hook.  After a break, Carter attacks and lands big.  He follows Smith and lands several hurtful shots.  Smith, surprisingly, gets angry and trades with him.  Now the crowd is roaring!  Carter has his back to the ropes as the round ends, but seems unhurt.

Round 5

Carter is loading up, Smith pawing in the early going.  Carter steps forward and stabs a jab into Smith’s body, but Smith dances away, pounding his chest and belly.  The crowd likes the showmanship.  Smith leads with a left hook that misses and Carter reaches outside to land a right hook to the body.  Carter pushes Smith into the ropes, and Gary Miezwa breaks them up.  Carter is chasing, and lands a downhill right that leaves Smith wobbling.  The chase is on!  Carter is walking forward and throwing power shots, Smith is retreating, looking hurt.  Carter lands a big hook!  Smith, retreating, throws a straight right that lands flush.  Smith is an unlikely looking fighter, but he seems to hold up okay.  Ten seconds to go, Carter is lo0king to put Smith away, but Smith ties him up, then flurries with him as time expires.

Smith never had a chance in this physical mismatch, but he seems pleased to have frustrated his younger, fitter opponent, and the crowd is amused.

Cerresso Fort (now 18-4-1 with 12 kayos is defeated by Romon Barber (now 5-9 with 4 kayos) ; referee stops fight before the start of the sixth round

Round 1

The fight begins with tactical sparring, a lot of jabbing.  Barber is a tough guy, a gamer.  Fort hasn’t looked great the last few times out.  About midway through the round Fort steps into a jab that knocks Barber off balance, but when Fort pursues, Barber counters effectively and scores.  Barber is coming forward, but Fort is taller and stymies him for a moment.  When Barber gets inside, Fort ties him up.  Barber is getting more aggressive as the fight progresses, but Fort makes him pay.  There’s a near clinch, but they wrestle out of it, and the round ends.

Round 2

Barber comes right out to start the round, and though Fort at first proves hard to hit, Barber keeps charging in, and there’s a series of power shots, a tangle, and Fort goes down in the ropes.  Referee Mark Nelson pauses the bout to have a brief word with the combatants, and the fight resumes.  Fort is trying to stay ouside and  box.  Barber is trying to make it a war, coming forward and ducking.  Barber finally gets close and Fort ties him up.  After the break, Barber lunges forward and misses with a straight left.  fort’s footwork  and balance seem off.  Barber gets inside, throws a punch as he steps back, and rocks fort.  All of Fort’s movements seem compromised, from his exaggerated upper body movement to his clumsy feet.  Just before the round ends, Barber throws out a lead that Fort counters.

Round 3

Barber is eager to begin.  he comes forward and ducks a couple of sweeping lefts from Fort.  Fort jabs tentatively – that would have scored nicely if he’d put more behind it.  Barber is energetic, on his toes, coming forward.  Fort is jabbing and moving backwards.  Barber’s eagerness puts him in awkward positions, but Fort doesn’t take advantage.  Now they’re jabbing, with neither man taking the initiative.  Barber comes forward again, but Fort wards him off with a slow jab.  Fort is coming forward now, throwing wreckingball rights.  Barber ducks a bunch of them, but some connect, and the audience is impressed.  Barber comes forward again, but runs out of time in the third.

Round 4

Fort is jabbing to start the round, but Barber gets close enough to turn Fort’s head with a right.  Barber is coming forward again, and lands a big lunging left hook that staggers fort.  Barber has the definite advantage at this moment.  Barber continues to hunt his opponent.  Fort ties Barber up and walks forward, pushing the smaller Barber backwards and into the ropes.  this fight is devolving into a wrestling match.  Back in the center of the ring, Barber is dancing.  The fighters trade, and fort scores.  Barber hurts Fort with a power shot, chases him, and does it again!    Barber pursues Fort to the blue corner and lands a huge left that leaves Fort wavering, but the bell rings.  Fort does not look good.

Round 5

At the starting bell, Fort is called to a neutral corner to be inspected by the doctor.  The doctor nods at Mark Nelson, and the fight resumes.  Barber goes back on the attack, but Fort nullifies it momentarily.  There’s a clinch, and another break.  Fort is retreating, Barber coming forward.  Barber knows what’s been working, and he’s reluctant to take a backward step.  Barber steps into a counter left from Fort, a small victory for Fort in a fight that isn’t going well.  Barber comes forward again and eats a jab from Fort, but he again comes forward.  Barber steps forward and swallows a jab – Is Fort coming out of his stupor?  Barber continues to come forward, but he’s missing with those power shots this round.  Ten seconds to go, and Fort throws a big right, Barber ducks under it, and Fort nearly topples over.  This observer is concerned for Cerresso Fort’s health.

There’s some confusion in the ring.  Has the fight been stopped?  Yes, on the doctor’s advice referee Mark Nelson has stopped this bout.  Romon Barber wins.

Robert Brant (now 17-0 with 11 kayos) defeats Lekan Byfield (now 6-11-2 with 1 kayo) by TKO at 2:19 in round 3 of 8 rounds scheduled.

Round 1

Brant comes out immediately shooting a serious jab that connects.  Byfield, not to be intimidated, throws back.  Brant is staying in close, looking to put on a show.  Byfield steps forward with a one-two.  Brant responds in kind, flurrying as he comes forward.  Brant has a major league jab, and he is using it – a lot.  Brant pursues Byfield to the ropes, landing a left-right-right.  Byfield waggles his tongue as he retreats.  Brant doesn’t want to be shown up, so he turns on the juice, battering Byfield, but Byfield is a serious fighter.  Brant is taking some chances now, trying to trap and pummel his belligerent opponent.  Brant lands a series of power shots, punctuating the attack with a reaching left hook on a retreating Byfield.  byfield loses his mouthguard.  Action resumes for a few seconds before the bell, Brant scoring with hard shots.

Round 2

Brant comes forward, looking to score, and Byfield lands a left-right, two very good punches. Brant shakes it off and resumes thattack.  There’s a roving exchange, and Brant gets the better of it, sending Byfield reeling.  Byfield lands an uppercut.  Brant comes forward, leaves himself unguarded, and Byfield scores.  Brant fires a fusillade of hot power shots, and Byfield is hurt.  Brant chases Byfield into the blue corner and rocks him with a series of fast and hard punches from both hands.  Byfield escapes momentarily, but Brant clobbers him with a right.  Byfield barely kept his feet after that.  Brant is coming forward.  Byfield jabs to the body, then throws some arm-swinging punches that have no effect.  Brant continues to attack, and though Byfield blocks some punches, he absorbs more.

Round 3

Byfield comes out swinging.  He’s regained his swagger.  He’s better stop sticking his tongue out, or it’ll get mailed home.  Byfield lands several power shots on Brant – Brant comes forward.  Brant steps forward and eats a big right hand that buckles his knees, but his eyes are impassive and he regains his footing.  Byfield is fighting in close, and Brant wants to sharpshoot him.  Brant steps in again, but he’s stopped short by a series of punches from different angles.  Brant steps through the counters, batters Byfield from angry angles, and drops him with a big left to the head.  Byfield is up before the count, but he’s wobbly.  Brant jumps on him, cracks him like an egg, and Byfield stumbles across the ring while referee Gary Miezwa chases him, trying to catch him while waving off the fight.  It’s over, TKO for Brant.

Al Sands (now 15-2 with 13 kayos) is defeated by Phil “The Drill” Williams (now 15-7 with 14 kayos) at 2:36 in round 1 of ten rounds scheduled.  Williams becomes the new Minnesota State Cruiserweight Champion.

Round 1

Sands throws first tonight, jab, jab, jab, double jab.  Nothing connects.  Williams ducks and jabs, and lands to the body.  Everything is jabs to start with, then Sands finally follows a jab with a straight right.  Williams stabs his foot forward and jabs to the body.  For the first time Williams turns his hips and throws a right, but it grazes Sands’ body.  Williams gets inside and throws a combination, but Sands counters and scores.  Williams sticks a hard jab to Sands’ midsection.  Williams steps and throws a left hook that lands on Sands neck and shoulder and staggers Sands.  He hesitates just a moment, then jumps on Sands.  Williams pounds Sands without mercy, beating him from pillar to post, and Sands staggers toward the ropes and then collapses.  Sands is up quickly, but has to hold on to a rope to stop from falling over, and referee Mark Nelson calls it!  TKO win for Williams, and Minnesota has a new cruiserweight champion.

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Minnesota Boxing: 2010 Year-End Pound-for-Pound List

The sport of boxing doesn’t often reward its devotees’ loyalty and emotional investment by producing yearned-for matches.  As a result, the greater part of being a boxing fan is speculating whether, all things being equal, one fighter could best another fighter in the ring.  That’s where pound-for-pound lists come in.

Here are the Fistic Mystic’s rankings of Minnesota’s best fighters regardless of weight class.  Last year’s ranking for each ranked fighter is in parenthesis following his record.  Unranked fighters are listed in alphabetical order.

  1. Jason Litzau – 28-2 with 21 kayos (1) – This spot was occupied by Litzau a year ago, and this year Litzau has widened the margin between number one and everyone else.  Since the 2009 rankings Litzau has added two more good wins to his ledger: a technical decision win against Rocky Juarez and a split decision (which should have been a wide unanimous decision) over Celestino Caballero.  No other Minnesota boxer can claim one so prestigious a win in 2010, much less two.
  2. Andy Kolle – 23-2 with 17 kayos (2) – Kolle maintains his position in the P4P rankings this year by virtue of style, rather than substance.  Though Kolle went 4-0 this year with two first-round TKOs, none of his wins came against substantial opponents.  The best of the four wins was a lopsided decision win against Matt Vanda in April, but Kolle had already defeated Vanda (albeit in less decisive fashion) back in 2007.  Kolle gets to keep his spot, but like all of Andy Kolle’s admirers, I’m hoping for something bigger and better in 2011.
  3. Caleb Truax – 16-0-1 with 10 kayos (6) – After fighting five times in 2008 and another five times in 2009, Truax began to experience the typical deceleration of career progress that many prospects encounter when they become known; it becomes more difficult to get them fights that are winnable, useful, and profitable.  So management has to be more selective, and fights become less frequent.  Since last spring it’s been well known that Minnesota boxing mainstay Matt Vanda would like a shot at Truax, and that would be one of the biggest events that the Upper Midwest boxing scene could produce in the next year.
  4. Joey Abell – 27-4 with 26 kayos (7) – The fighter called “Minnesota Ice” benefits from some shuffling in the rankings this year.  Abell didn’t do anything wrong in 2010, but he didn’t fight very much.  The fights he did have went according to plan; Abell dispatched overweight journeyman Josh Gutcher in the 2nd round in April and then avenged a loss by punishing Arron Lyons for four rounds in July.  Abell’s fans look forward to a career-defining moment on January 28th, when he’s schedued to meet former world title contender Chris Arreola in Temecula, CA.  With a win Abell could find himself finally making waves at the national level.
  5. Phil Williams – 11-3-1 with 10 kayos (5) – The banger from North Minneapolis didn’t have a great year, fighting only twice and going 0-1-1 in 2010.  Williams’ performance against 18-0-1 Donovan George in January was disappointing, but his April performance against Caleb Truax was more encouraging.  Truax piled up the early rounds but Williams came on late, scoring with heavy shots and looking like the stronger man in the last two rounds of the bout.  In a development that must have been hard for Williams to swallow, he had a third fight scheduled for December 18th but it fell out at the last possible moment when his opponent, Matt Vanda, was found to be under suspension in New Jersey, hence ineligible to fight in Minnesota.  The bout was changed from a prizefight to an exhibition, and reduced from ten rounds to six.
  6. Matt Vanda – 43-12 with 23 kayos (4) – Some fight fans think that Vanda is slipping.  I’ll reserve judgement for now, but I will point out that Vanda was only 1-3 this year, and that one win didn’t come against a great fighter.  If it turns out that Vanda’s career really is winding down, that’ll be too bad for local fight fans.  Few professional boxers exude more joy for the sport of boxing than Vanda – the pleasure that Vanda demonstrates in plying his craft reminds me of Johnny Tapia in terms of being a guy who just seems to love to fight.  On the other hand, one local boxing authority has privately expressed to me a fear that Vanda will “end up tragic.”  Whether Vanda’s failure to disclose his true professional status to the promoters of the December 18th show at Target Center is a step in that direction or merely an instance of profoundly poor judgement remains to be seen.
  7. Wilton Hilario – 12-2-1 with 9 kayos (3) – Hilario’s career trajectory illustrates just how difficult it is to rise and how easy it is to fall in the boxing world.  After going 0-2 in 2010 Hilario has seen his stock fall precipitously.  Hilario’s loss to Martin Honorio exposed some serious flaws in Hilario’s game, and his subsequent loss to Cuban prospect Luis Franco showed that Hilario is a slow (or reluctant) learner.  The good news for Hilario: nope, there is no good news yet.  If he’s serious about his boxing career Hilario needs to do some fast learning and get a couple of rebuilding wins.  If not, there are some nice paydays out there for a fighter with a record like his.  Now I don’t want to be unfair to a good fighter, so I will point out that Hilario’s two losses came to very tough competition – Luis Franco in particular is looking very good right now.
  8. Ismail Muwendo – 7-0 with 6 kayos (-) In hindsight, Muwendo should have been on this list a year ago.  My bad.  The “Sharp Shooter” is a real talent, a young man who has impressed in the prizefighting ring and earned the respect of other fighters in the sparring ring.  Muwendo reportedly sparred with Jason Litzau three or four times before Litzau’s defeat of Celestino Caballero, to the benefit of both men.  Expect to see Muwendo fight at the Hyatt on January 7th, provided an opponent can be located.
  9. Gary Eyer – 8-0-1 with 6 kayos (14) – Are you surprised to see Eyer rise so far in this year’s rankings?  To be perfectly honest, so am I. Eyer only fought once in 2010, but it was a dazzling 2nd-round win against Brad Patraw, who has since reclaimed the Minnesota bantamweight strap that he had previously lost to Antwan Robertson.  In that lone bout this year Eyer battered Patraw unmercifully, to the point that the only people in attendance who protested the stoppage were Patraw and his trainer, Johnny Johnson of the Rice Street Gym.  Eyer’s size (he formerly fought as a welterweight but has worked his way down to super featherweight) and his power have made him rather an unattractive match, but his manager Todd Bechthold and trainer Chuck Horton are too smart to bet so much hard-earned momentum on a risky opponent.  Eyer’s next fight is scheduled for February 12th, but no opponent has been announced yet.
  10. Corey Rodriguez – 5-1-2 with 3 kayos (10) – That Corey Rodriguez could maintain his position on the P4P chart after going 1-0-2 in 2010 owes something to the quality of his in-ring competition.  Rodriguez fought only once during 2009, losing a close decision to unbeaten Dave Peterson in Rochester.  C-Rod didn’t fight again for nine months after the loss, then packed three fights into five months.  Moving up to middleweight to face Charles Meier, a very respectable boxer and a bigger man than Rodriguez, Rodriguez got a majority draw.  Traveling to Cleveland to fight unbeaten Ohioan Dante Moore resulted in another draw.  Finally, Rodriguez made the trip up I-94 to Fargo and came within a whisker of knocking out tough journeyman Nick Runningbear, earning himself a wide unanimous decision win.
  11. Cerresso Fort – 10-0 with 8 kayos (17) – That an undefeated prospect like Mr. Fort could be ranked lower than Corey Rodriguez owes something to the quality of his competition, as well.  Fort seemed poised for good things as 2009 came to a close, though a close fight with Lamar Harris may have (should have) struck a note of foreboding in the hearts of supporters.  But in 2010 Fort fought only once, earning a unanimous decision in a four-rounder against 3-8 opponent Steve Macomber in California.  That’s it.
  12. Willshaun Boxley – 6-7-1 with 4 kayos (13) – Sometimes an athlete’s struggles against tough competition can establish the level of his talent even as he tallies a loss.  Consider Boxley a case in point.  Boxley’s record in 2010 was a dismal 1-4-1.  The cumulative record of his opponents, however, was 54-3.  Not only that, but at least one of Boxley’s losses (against Pier Olivier Cote) was an egregious miscarriage, booed by the fans and mocked by the television broadcast crew.  Fortunately, Boxley ended the year on a better note, ending an 8-fight winless streak with a win in Canada and then earning a draw against 15-1 John Jackson at Target Center.  Boxley is still as talented now as when he was 5-0.
  13. Dave Peterson – 12-0 with 7 kayos (8) – Missing in action for an entire year, Peterson is an enigma.  Eventually he’ll probably cash in on his record for a nice payday or two against impossible opponents.  Else he’ll retire undefeated.  Either outcome would be disappointing for Minnesota’s boxing fans.
  14. Mohammed Kayongo – 15-2 with 11 kayos (9) – Here’s another fighter who hasn’t been seen or heard from in a year.  This lanky welterweight seemed to be in a good place when he TKO’d James Todd at the Saint Paul National Guard Armory in November of 2009.  Since then his name has come up a couple of times as a possible opponent for bigger names, but nothing has developed, and Kayongo and former manager Scott Tolzmann have parted ways.
  15. Jon Schmidt – 10-1 with 6 kayos (-) – Schmidt fought just twice in 2010: a no contest against 6-1 Josh Crouch in June when Schmidt suffered a bad cut, and a points win against dangerous but limited opponent Ryan Soft in October.  Schmidt will take a major step up when he faces 10-0 former Olympian Shawn Estrada on the undercard of the Abell-Arreola event on January 28th in California.  Schmidt’s career has been undistinguished so far, but the young man with a reputation of a workout fanatic has a great opportunity to shine.  All of Minnesota should be pulling for Schmidt when the time comes.
  16. Javontae Starks – 4-0 with 4 kayos (18) – Young Starks has looked like a monster in the ring when he’s fought, but his opposition hasn’t been great and he has pulled out several fights in the last year.  Now it looks like Starks has severed ties with his original promoter, MSC, and is appearing on the January 7th card presented by Tony Grygelko’s Seconds Out Promotions.  Only time will tell what the future holds for this talented youngster.  If he had been more active this year, Starks would surely have advanced further up the P4P list than he did.
  17. Vicente Alfaro – 4-1 with 1 kayo (-) – A year ago only the most obsessive fight fans in Minnesota knew of Alfaro, but now he’s the owner of wins against Brad Patraw and former Olympian Ron Siler.  Alfaro also suffered his first loss in November, reportedly a one-sided beating at the hands of 11-0 Efrain Esquivias Jr in Ontario, CA.  Nevertheless, Alfaro remains nicely positioned to fight local small men like Antwan Robertson, Derek Winston, Gary Eyer, or even Ronnie Peterson.
  18. Brad Patraw – 7-3 with 4 kayos (12) -Patraw, fighting out of the Rice Street Gym, had an uneven 2010.  First he lost badly to Gary Eyer in April, then he faced off against Vicente Alfaro and lost a second straight fight by 2nd-round TKO (his third consecutive loss overall).  Finally, on December 18th, Patraw stopped his skid with a unanimous decision win in the rubber match between him and Antwan Robertson.  The win against Robertson was a carbon copy of the first fight between the two, which Patraw dominated.  Patraw has big ambitions, but he might be wise to use the Minnesota bantamweight title strap as an inducement to make fights with other local small men before trying to move up on a national level.
  19. Jamal James – 3-0 with 3 kayos (-) – With Javontae Starks seemingly out of the picture, you can expect MSC to push Jamal James as the next big thing in Minnesota boxing.  And why not?  James is a talented technical boxer who seems to have found power to go with his speed, precision, and slickness.  The junior welterweight from south Minneapolis also has a quirky personality.  Watch him bow and flourish in the ring before a fight and try not to smile!
  20. Hector Orozco – 3-6 with no kayos (-) – 2010 was Orozco’s best year as a pro.  As the new year dawned Orozco’s record was 1-4.  Orozco’s 2010 unfolded this way: first Orozco lost controversially to unbeaten Jeremy McLaurin, a stoppage due to a cut that was ruled a TKO.  In a rematch with McLaurin, though, Orozco befuddled his 7-0 opponent and took the win.  Next Orozco was rematched with 3-0 welterweight Danny Figueroa, by whom he had been beaten in a technical decision in 2009, and gained another win.  Finally, Orozco would take a loss to end up at 2-2 for the year courtesy of the blinding speed and punishing power of 6-0-1 prospect Michael Anderson.  The remarkable thing about Orozco is that all three of his wins have been against unbeaten fighters (Figueroa, McLaurin, and in 2009, RJ Laase).  In fact, the cumulative records of all of Orozco’s opponents at the time that he fought them was 37-7-1.  How good would this guy be if he were more selective of his opponents and a little more lucky in the ring?

Missed the cut:

Scott Ball – The middleweight from Rochester lost his only bout in 2010, to Marcus Upshaw, to go to 10-7 with 8 knockouts.

Anthony Bonsante – Came out of retirement to fight Bobby Kliewer after 20 months of inactivity.  Dealing with some stress in his personal life, Bonsante had hoped for a cathartic experience.  Instead he got a tough fight and was handed a humbling loss by a club fighter.

Raphael Butler – Only fought once in 2010, was outpointed by Canadian heavyweight prospect Neven Pajkic.  Butler felt he had earned the win and been cheated, but what losing fighter doesn’t think that?

Levi Cortes – After bursting on the scene with a gutsy performance against Gary Eyer a year ago, Cortes has been missing in action.

Danny Figueroa – This Hastings-based fighter is a genuine talent, but only fought once in 2010, losing to Hector Orozco.

Kenny Kost has reportedly been seen in the gym recently.  Kost, who hasn’t fought since losing to Hector Camacho Jr in the spring of 2008, should be expected to require a tuneup bout before getting into any serious scrap.

Tony Lee – Two fights into his professional career Tony Lee has an unblemished record.  His first fight, a win against Hector Orozco, I saw and was not too impressed.  His second fight, an all-action victory against scrappy David Laque, I didn’t see, but Lee got good reviews from everyone who saw it.  I expect good things from Lee in 2011, and you should too.

Antonio Johnson isn’t officially retired as far as anyone knows, but has only fought three times in the last three years, so what’s the difference?  Johnson hasn’t been seen or heard from professionally since notching his first loss (to Francisco Santana) in March of 2009.

Bobby Kliewer had lost four in a row and eight out of nine before shocking Anthony Bonsante in December.  That’s not to say that Kliewer is a bad fighter; the book on “Sweet Dreams” is that he’s a short notice opponent for good prospects.  A couple of wins in 2011 would get this young (23 years old) veteran a ranking a year from now.  He only just missed the cut this year.

Allen Litzau – I refer back to the elder Litzau’s entry from last year: “not a bad fighter, but no big wins in several years.   I’m hoping to see Allen fight and win several times in 2010.” There’s been serious talk of matching Litzau and Gary Eyer in Duluth.  Wouldn’t that be interesting?

Jeremy McLaurin fought three times in 2010, winning controversially against Hector Orozco, losing a rematch with Orozco, and winning impressively against 3-0 Joel Flores of Michigan.  I don’t know what to make of McLaurin.  He’s a likeable young man and a talented boxer, but I’m not sure he has the chin of a good prizefighter.  McLaurin has a lot of options, so expect to see him gain a couple of wins and get tested in the new year.

Jonathan Perez just turned pro a couple of weeks ago.  It’s too soon to give him a ranking, but with some good wins we could see him make a splash.  Having a promotional deal with MSC doesn’t hurt.

Antwan Robertson suffered through a 1-3 campaign this year, his only win coming against 0-1 William Bellcourt.  Robertson is a tremendous athlete, but that athleticism hasn’t consistently translated into success in the ring.

Derek Winston has only fought twice since turning pro in October of 2009, both times taking wins against difficult opponents, but has yet to show the kind of potential that built him a reputation as an amateur.  A cousin of Antwan Robertson,  Winston has talent and access to good sparring.  Some say that Winston is a better boxer than Robertson.  With a little luck and some more favorable matching, 2011 could be Winston’s year to make some noise.

Minnesota’s Glamor Divisions

A couple of years ago it was written here that middleweight was the most talent-laden division in Minnesota boxing.  That statement could easily have been expanded to include the entire Upper Midwest – at the time the premier division boasted the premier names of Bonsante, Kolle, Kost, and Vanda.  Since then, however, the landscape has changed significantly.  Bonsante is retired, Kost might as well be for all the action he’s been getting, Kolle wants to move down to junior middleweight, and Vanda has been testing the waters of the super middleweight division.  Furthermore, no fighter is obligated to stay in any particular division, so any analysis has to allow for the certainty that weights will change over time.

With that said, what is the best division in Minnesota boxing now?

Let’s survey our most prestigious divisions.

Junior Featherweight (130#):

Players: Jason Litzau (27-2 with 21 kayos), Wilton Hilario (12-1-1 with 9 kayos), Willshaun Boxley (5-7 with 3 kayos), Ismail Muwendo (6-0 with 5 kayos), Gary Eyer (8-0-1 with 6 kayos), Allen Litzau (13-6 with 7 kayos), Hassan Wasswa (5-11-3 with 2 kayos), Darby Smart (11-4 with 4 kayos), Brad Patraw (6-3 with 4 kayos), Antwan Robertson (6-3 with 4 kayos), Vicente Alfaro (4-0 with 1 kayo)

Jason Litzau (right) lays some hurt on Verquan Kimbrough

Summary: Admittedly I’m being a little bit generous to the division by including a few men from lower divisions, but it’s a fact that in those lower divisions the fighters have to be willing to travel.  Jason Litzau is the only sure-fire world class fighter in Minnesota.  How do we know?  A sure sign that a fighter has reached that echelon is that lesser men are naming Litzau as a desired opponent.  Wilton Hilario has been on national TV before and will be again in less than two weeks.  It was less than two years ago that Tony Grygelko was calling Boxley “the second best fighter in Minnesota,” but the bright and affable Boxley seems to have no more idea how to manage his career than do the buttons on his shirt.  Proof of this fact: Boxley has now lost seven fights in a row against fighters with a combined record of 60-2, after starting his career with fight straight wins.  Hilario, Boxley, Muwendo, and Eyer are all very credible second-tier guys who fans would love to see matched against each other.

Junior Middleweight (154#):

Players: Andy Kolle (22-2 with 16 kayos), Kenny Kost (14-4 with 6 kayos), Dave Peterson (12-0 with 7 kayos), Corey Rodriguez (4-1-2 with 3 kayos), Jon Schmidt (9-1 with 6 kayos), Javontae Starks (4-0 with 4 kayos), Danny Figueroa (3-1 with 2 kayos)

Andy Kolle after a job well done

Summary: Kolle is the current Minnesota middleweight title holder, and he’s on the cusp of cracking the top 15 in the world in that division.  Though Kolle has continued to campaign as a middleweight, for the last couple of years he’s been intermittently been protesting his desire to move down a class to take greater advantage of his length and power.  Expect to see Kolle finally make that move in the coming months, and he will stand head and shoulders above everyone on this list when he finally gets to 154.  Kenny Kost gets kudos for his experience and a win total in the teens, and for beating Matt Vanda back in 2007, while slippery Dave Peterson is credited with an unbeaten record and a hard-earned win against Corey Rodriguez in 2009.  This division is thick with prospects, none of which come with greater hype and potential than Javontae Starks, who has devastating power, and whose amateur accomplishments give him a national reputation.

Middleweight (160#):

Players: Kolle, Kost, Cerresso Fort (10-0 with 8 kayos), Tyler Hultin (1-0-1 with 1 kayo), Caleb Truax (15-0-1 with 9 kayos), Matt Vanda (43-11 with 23 kayos)

Caleb Truax

Hot prospect Caleb Truax

Summary: Kenny Kost isn’t officially retired, as far as anyone knows, but he hasn’t fought for two years and he isn’t getting any younger.  Caleb Truax is seen as an up-and-comer in this division, but the truth is that usually he weights in a pound or two over the limit.  With three wins against Matt Vanda and the now-retired Tony Bonsante in the last few years and no immediate challengers, Andy Kolle rules the roost here until he leaves.  Minnesota fans have asked for a Kolle-Truax matchup, but the promoters haven’t seen fit to make that fight.  One possibility: both fighters’ management are smart enough not to want to risk cashing in their fighter for the relative pittance that an all-Minnesota fight is likely to generate.

Super Middleweight (168#):

Players: Traux, Vanda, Phil Williams (11-3 with 10 kayos), Tim Taggart (4-2-2 with 2 kayos), Bobby Kliewer (10-11-2 with 5 kayos)

Heavy handed puncher Phil Williams

Summary: Despite the fact that he usually weights over 160#, Truax has been billed and marketed as a middleweight.  Matt Vanda is small for a super middleweight, but this seems to be where he wants to live, while Phil Williams is a former light heavyweight who moved down.  Taggart and Kliewer are young guys who will gain weight with age.  My point?  For most of these guys, the super middleweight division seems to be a way station on the road to somewhere else.  Nevertheless they are here now, and some interesting matches can be (in fact have been) made.

The Fistic Mystic says: The two best divisions in Minnesota right now are junior feather and junior middle.  This quick survey of active fighters and their records suggests that while middleweight still holds the potential for some very interesting matches, it’s junior featherweight and junior middleweight that have the most potential for fireworks.

Mayweather -vs- Mosley: Prefight Analysis and Observations

Saturday night, May 1st will be one of the rare instances when the attention of the sports world turns to boxing.  That’s when unbeaten superstar Floyd Mayweather (40-0 with 25 knockouts) and future hall-of-famer Sugar Shane Mosley (46-5 with 39 knockouts) will meet at the top of a great boxing card assembled by Oscar De La Hoya’s promotional outfit, Golden Boy Promotions.

Introducing the Combatants:

Every sporting event benefits from a compelling angle to draw in the fans, and this one has a doozy:  the relentlessly self-promoting Mayweather, who has long claimed to be the world’s best active boxer, has recently begun to compare himself favorably to the all-timers.  Mosley, meanwhile, is enjoying a resurgence at the sunset of his career (he’s 38 years old) following a dominating performance against Antonio Margarito in his last fight, in which he claimed the WBA world welterweight title while becoming the first man ever to kayo the shady Tijuanan.  Dig deeper and the story  of Floyd and Shane becomes even more interesting.

Psychology and history provide subtext

Inflated egos are common enough in professional sports, but even in the sport of Ali, Leonard, and Tyson, such an enormous ego has rarely been known.  It’s fair enough to grant that Mayweather is a great star and a larger-than-life personality.  His family name is well known (his dad was a world champion boxer and two uncles were also fighters of some note) and he’s a smooth talker with a pretty face.  Mayweather’s technical proficiency as a boxer is underniable, and as a lightweight he had no equal.

From the beginning Mayweather was groomed by his father to be a great amateur champion, an Olympic medalist, and a professional superstar.  Denied an opportunity to compete for an Olympic gold medal by some sketchy scoring in the semifinal round, Mayweather secured the win in the consolation round and brought home a bronze.  Early in his professional career Mayweather was treated to a brief locker-room encounter with good-guy Mosley, in which he revealed his awe and admitted with unusual candor that he would be thrilled to produce a carbon copy of Mosley’s career.

Over time Mayweather has put a lot of effort into developing a persona – he dropped his original moniker (Pretty Boy) a few years ago in favor of the somewhat more original “Money Mayweather.”  It’s no accident that Floyd is a big star now; that’s how he planned it.  But the common criticism of Mayweather is that his carefully planned star-building campaign has included surprisingly little risk over the last five years, at least compared to other great champions.  Mayweather’s record is littered with washed-up former contenders and former champs with glittering records, who posed little danger to the defensive-minded sharpshooter.

Mosley, not to be outdone in any aspect of his boxing career, has an equally compelling story to tell.

Like Mayweather, Mosley was trained up as a fighter from an early age by his dad, Jack Mosley.  Also like Mayweather, Mosley’s professional relationship with his dad soured when he was at the peak of his career.  And like Mayweather, Mosley carried the proud burden of an unbeaten record deep into the meat of his career.  In his own words, “I think there is too big a deal being made about the fact that Floyd is undefeated.  Before my first loss, I was 38-0 with 35 kayos.  That’s a hell of a record, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t be beat, and it doesn’t mean Floyd can’t, either.”  Unlike Mayweather, though, Mosley has fought the very best competition in the world over a period of many years.  The career strategy hasn’t always panned out – Sugar Shane did drop two fights to the late great Vernon Forrest and two more to chronically underrated technician Winky Wright, but he also took two wins against Oscar De la Hoya in Oscar’s prime, as well as single victories against Philip Holiday, John John Molina, Wilfredo Ruiz, Jesse James Leija, Golden Johnson, Antonio Diaz, Shannan Taylor, Ricardo Mayorga, and just last year, an astonishingly complete domination of the seemingly invincible Antonio Margarito.

The Part with the Analysis:

It may be true – in fact it’s fair to say that it’s probably so – that it was the win against Margarito that set Mosley up for this match with Mayweather.  The Mosley-Margarito result may be a bit deceptive, however.  To quote Graham Houston’s apt turn of phrase, “Mosley, coming up for 38 [years old], has been in many wars and might have been flattered by the Margarito performance.”  In other words, Mosley may have had his last great hurrah in that Margarito fight – Margarito certainly didn’t look like his usual self that night, and it couldn’t have helped that his handwraps were found to be illegal before the fight began.  As a result the fight itself was contested under a dark cloud of suspicion.

Just the same, Mosley must be given credit for the rebirth of his career following a 1-4 stretch that lasted from 2002 to 2004.  Since the second of twin losses to Winky Wright to close out 2004, Mosley has piled up a record of 7-1 with 4 kayos, against opponents whose aggregate record came to 225-18-3 at the time of the bouts.  The Margarito win was icing on a fabulous cake.

The sad fact about Mayweather is that he has a history of choosing the less dangerous of two possible opponents at almost every juncture.  Given a choice of two possible opponents, Mayweather consistently chooses the one with less chance of beating him.  Even Mayweather’s biggest win, a 10th round TKO against 43-0 light welterweight world champ Ricky Hatton, pales in comparison to Hatton’s subsequent 2nd-round flapjacking at the hands of Manny Pacquiao.

This fight is no exception: Mayweather had a very public (and very ugly) dispute with world pound-for-pound choice Pacquiao and finally backed out of a planned fight with Pacquiao.  When the much older Mosley  became available, Mayweather jumped at the chance to match him.  Accordingly, a win against Mosley will garner Mayweather a gargantuan payday but little credit among boxing types, considering that although Mosley is a great old champ, he has lost some of the speed and some of the reflexes that helped to make him a great star in the 1990s and early 2000s.  Invariably, a Mayweather win against Mosley would be played down by knowledgeable fans as a win against a faded champ of advanced age.

The Part with the Bullet Points:

  • One of the great fascinations of this fight is the psychology of Mayweather.  Money has spent so much time and energy (and money) building up his image, and he has made so many claims of greatness, that one wonders what it would do to his psyche if he were to drop a decision to Mosley.  Would he go to pieces?  Would he tone down the rhetoric and behave more like a grown-up?  Or would he dishonor his conqueror and his sport by making make excuses?  If a loss to Mosley exposes once-and-for-all the rickety foundation that Mayweather’s image and career have been built on, will we find that his psyche is equally unsound?
  • Conversely, if Mayweather wins, will he get full credit for the win or will he be accused of tallying another victory at the expense of another creaky, past-it old timer?
  • What happens to Mosley if he shocks the world again and takes the win?  He’s never achieved the stardom that he has always seemed to deserve.  Would a victory against the generally acknowledged #2 pound-for-pound fighter in the world finally make Mosley an international star, or would he continue to be a non-factor in popular culture?

The Fight Card:

“Sugar” Shane Mosley (46-5 with 39 kayos) -vs- Floyd Mayweather Jr (40-0 with 25 kayos), welterweights, scheduled for 12 rounds

Daniel Ponce de Leon (38-2 with 32 kayos) -vs- Cornelius Lock (19-4 with 12 kayos), featherweights, scheduled for 10 rounds

Hector David Saldivia (33-1 with 26 kayos) -vs- Said Ouali (26-3 with 18 kayos), welterweights, scheduled for 10 rounds

Saul Alvarez (31-0-1 with 23 kayos) -vs- Jose Miguel Coto (31-1-1 with 23 kayos), welterweights, scheduled for 10 rounds

Eloy Perez (16-0-2 with 4 kayos) -vs- Gilberto Sanchez Leon (21-6-2 with 7 kayos), super featherweights, scheduled for 10 rounds

Jesse Vargas (9-0 with 4 kayos) -vs- Arturo Morua (25-13-1 with 14 kayos), light welterweights, scheduled for 8 rounds

Luis Ramos Jr (14-0 with 7 kayos) -vs- Allen Litzau (13-4 with 7 kayos), lightweights, scheduled for 8 rounds

Dion Savage (7-0 with 5 kayos) -vs- Tommie Speller (5-3 with 3 kayos), middleweights, scheduled for 6 rounds

Daniel Reece (debut) -vs- Nichoulas Briannes (1-4 with no kayos), light welterweights, scheduled for 4 rounds

The Fistic Mystic says:  Pay attention, Minnesota boxing fans.  There are at least two Minnesota connections on this bout sheet:  Allen Litzau of St Paul is the older and less successful brother of Jason Litzau, a contender in the lightweight division.  And trainer Dion Savage of Michigan, a project or protege of trainer Roger Mayweather,  fought in Minnesota twice during the winter of 2009.

Willshaun Boxley Says Everything!

I had a long and wide-ranging conversation with Willshaun Boxley the other night.  A visit with Willshaun is both illuminating and entertaining, and there isn’t a lot that I can add to what he says.  I will say this, though.  Whether you think that he’s the truth, or full of himself, or full of BS, you cannot deny that Boxley has shown himself to be fearless – he is willing to fight any man in Minnesota, and virtually any small man in the world of boxing.  One gets the feeling, talking to the brash featherweight, that the reluctance of his peers to give him a fight is the primary cause of doubt and frustration in his boxing career.

So here are Boxley’s thoughts about potential opponents in Minnesota – why he wants to fight them, or why he thinks they ought to fight him.

Brad Patraw

“Back  in the day we had a rivalry, COD and Rice Street, and he was the only one who ducked me [from Rice Street] and he got more credit than he deserved as a great boxer in Minnesota.  I want to expose him more than Robertson did.  If you want to be considered great, you’ve got to fight the guys in your own back yard.  I want to use Brad to build my record!”

Antwan Robertson

“I could live without fighting Robertson, because everybody tells me that the Minnesota belt that he has is fake.  But if you’re going to be the bantamweight champion, you might as well take my challenge.  I know my record isn’t the greatest, I’m only 5 and 5, but name a bantamweight in Minnesota who can beat me!  I would fight him at 120 or 122 – I won’t go lower than 120.”

Jeremy McLaurin

“We got a beef.  Me and Jeremy got a beef.  We’ve had our words, and it got heated before during a sparring match.  I mean, people get heated in sparring matches lots of times, but we’re men.  People don’t get as mad as he got when I was sparring him.  The words that he used made me want to fight him.  I would tell him to use his gloves to speak his words, and I’ll speak my words with my gloves.”

Allen Litzau

“In the amateurs he got a fluke victory over me.  Wilton and I went down to his gym together and I sparred him, let’s put it like this: after we got done sparring, he wasn’t too happy.  This was exactly after the judges gave an upset victory to him, Wilton and me sparred Jason and Allen, and I whipped the crap out of Allen.  Plus he called me out, and then I got in the ring and made him look like a clown, then he wouldn’t accept the calls from my management to make the fight.  So I guess he just chickened out after he called me out!  I want to treat the men on this list like my sons – I want to make them learn!”

Gary Eyer

“Out of all of these guys, I think Gary is a warrior, and I’d just like to respectfully fight him.  I think it would make a great match for the fans, because a Boxley -vs- Eyer match is going to be a great fight.  It’s a great fight even without hype behind it, and it’s going sell tickets!”

Ronnie Peterson

“I want to fight Ronnie Peterson just for the heck of it, but I can’t because he’s too soft.  He chickened out in his last fight and he took a dive.  We all know there was nothing wrong with his shoulder in that last fight!”

Other fighters who Boxley wants to get into the ring, in no particular order:

  • Hector Orozco
  • Tony Lee
  • Hassan Wasswa
  • Ismail Muwendo
  • Levi Cortes
  • Wilson Rivera
  • David Laque
  • Derek Winston
  • Sam Morales

Happy New Year, and Good-Bye to 2009

Here’s a new tradition: the Happy New Year article.  Just like last year, I’m going to outline which Minnesota boxers gained ground, which backslid, and which ones didn’t make a move in 2009.

Risers:

  • Jason Litzau – Some people may have thought that Litzau was toast after being manhandled and kayoed by world champ Robert Guerrero in his only fight of 2008.  But in 2009 Litzau shined while moving up from 126# to 135#, and then back down to 130#.  It was his fight with Verquan Kimbrough that really put him back on the map, as Litzau battered the 21-1-2 Kimbrough on his way to a 3rd-round win by retirement.  That win earned him a date with ESPN, but his win against Johnnie Edwards was less than glamorous.
  • Caleb Truax – Truax was on this list last year, too.  Everything has come up roses so far for the 14-0 prospect from Osseo, though he had his bell rung by Patrick Perez before coming back to win in his fourth bout of 2009.  Truax also looked gassed at the end of his ten-rounder with Kerry Hope in November.  Nevertheless, Truax won all five of his bouts in 2009, three of them by KO or TKO.
  • Matt Vanda – It’s a bit of a surprise to me to find Vanda on this list at this point in his career, but a 3-1 record in 2009, including wins against 40-6 Tocker Pudwill and 11-1 Phil Williams, got Vanda back on track.  Vanda has reached the point in his career where he accepts that he isn’t world-class, but he still loves to fight and he’s pretty good at it.  Kind of like a woman who is appealing and desirable despite not being beautiful, a Vanda fight is usually a fun spectacle despite not being a work of art.
  • Andy Kolle – People are talking.  I have people ask me all the time why Kaos Kolle isn’t fighting more frequently.  All I can tell them is that I know he wants to, and his team is trying to make it happen for him.  For now, Kolle can look back at his March 28th win against Tony Bonsante and feel good about being Minnesota’s middleweight champion.  We’ll see how long he remains satisfied with that.
  • Antwan Robertson – How can Robertson go 1-1-1 in three fights and still be on the list of risers?  Because he looked so very good in his October 23rd win against then 6-0 Brad Patraw.  Robertson started the year as an untested 4-0 prospect whose opponents had only one win between them.  He ended the year as Minnesota’s bantamweight champ.  That’ll lift you.
  • Gary Eyer – For some reason I hesitated before adding Eyer to this list, but he went 3-0 in 2009 and won Minnesota’s fight of the year against previously unbeaten Levi Cortes in December.  Eyer, now 7-0-1, is in a pretty good place for a prizefighter: he’s undefeated and he’s exciting to watch.

Fallers:

  • Anthony Bonsante lost to Andy Kolle in March and announced his retirement.  That was a pretty good move by the Bullet.  At the end of the summer rumors were flying that Bonsante would fight again, but he didn’t and that’s a good move too.  Here’s hoping that Bonsante finds other ways to keep busy, like working for the boxing commission.
  • Zach Walters lost twice in three bouts this year.  The loss to Byron Mitchell was a bummer, but not a dealbreaker.  The win over 11-12-3 James Morrow really wasn’t meaningful.  The first-round loss to smaller opponent Larry Sharpe was the deal-breaker.  Well, it was really the 1-3 stretch that started with a loss to Shawn Hammack in ’08 that was the dealbreaker – the loss to Sharpe was merely the final straw.  Walters is retired from fighting now, and it’s for the better.
  • Allen Litzau lost his only boxing match of 2009, to unbeaten prospect Wilton Hilario.  As Litzau is less and less active his stock continues to plunge.  We need to see something good from the elder Litzau before he falls off our radar entirely.
  • Cory Rodriguez also lost his only boxing match of 2009.  Rodriguez is a good fighter – a very good fighter, but he doesn’t fight often and he’s already 30 years old.  Something’s got to give in the new year, because a 4-1 prospect on the wrong side of 30 isn’t in a position to be choosey.

Sideways:

  • Phil Williams – It’s hard to know what to do with Williams.  He had two important results this year: a TKO win against Antwun Echols and a split decision loss to Matt Vanda.  I expect to see Williams on the ‘Risers” list next year, but this time all I can do is acknowledge his mixed results for 2009.
  • Brad Patraw beat Antwan Robertson handily in March but got knocked down twice and lost to Robertson in October.  In between was a make-work fight with tough but limited Javier Segura in August.  The two fights with Robertson are what interest me.
  • Willshaun Boxley fought six times in 2009, winning two and losing three (one fight ended in a no-contest due to weather).  His wins came against pretty good fighters and his losses came against very good fighters.
  • Jon Schmidt – It probably seems odd that a 9-1 guy ends up here after going 3-0 in 2009, but Schmidt’s three wins came in the form of a split decision against Joshua Rodriguez (then 4-5, now 4-10) and blowouts against a couple of MMA guys in the boxing debuts.  The bottom line is that a guy could do worse, but not doing worse isn’t the goal.

Make a Move!

  • Kenny Kost would be a non-factor if he hadn’t recently announced that he was going back to the gym to get ready to fight again.  He’s young enough and good enough to keep fighting, and he’s been mentioned as a possible opponent for Andy Kolle, Caleb Truax, and Cerresso Fort.
  • Jon Laboda fought just once in 2009, versus Patrick Cape back in April.  It’s time for another fight.  Does Jon know that Javontae Starks wants to fight him?  I’m not sure.

Non-Factors:

  • Antonio Johnson – The Saint Paul Kid still wants to fight, he’s told me so.  But he only fought once in 2007, once in 2008, and once in March of this year.  I don’t know what the holdup is, but the clock is ticking on this once-promising career.

Minnesota Boxing: 2009 Year-End Pound-for-Pound List

Here comes the first in a series of obligatory year-end articles.  A few thoughts on these pound-for-pound rankings: (1) even though I might think a guy has the potential to be very good, he still has to earn his way up the list (2) there might be someone missing from my list, please leave a comment if you think I’ve missed the boat, and  (3) I respect every man on this list, so there’s no dishonor in being ranked lower than someone else.

  1. Jason Litzau (26-2 with 21 kayos) – No one else could have ended up in this slot this year.  Litzau went 3-0 in 2009 and made himself a factor in both the 130-pound and 135-pound weight classes.  Something big is guaranteed to happen for Jason Litzau in 2010 – either a marquee appearance on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights or a title shot on premium cable.
  2. Andy Kolle (19-2 with 14 kayos) – Kolle could only have had a better 2009 if he had fought more.  Kolle won both of his fights this year, and one of them was for the Minnesota championship in the state’s most prestigious and accomplished division (middleweight).  The news out of Duluth is that Kolle and Chuck Horton are searching high and low for a suitable opponent for a soon fight.
  3. Wilton Hilario (12-0-1 with 9 kayos) – Here’s a guy whose career was stalled due to injury for a year between 2007 and 2008, who has come back to make a major statement on the local scene in 2009.  Hilario’s record in 2009 was 3-0 with the first two wins coming by TKO.  The first win was merely work, but the second was a nice career boost at the expense of Allen Litzau.  The third and most important win was against 18-3 veteran Leon Bobo, in which Hilario showed that he can also do it the ugly way.
  4. Matt Vanda (42-9 with 22 kayos) – Skelator began his year with a February loss to John Duddy in which he was thoroughly dominated until the tenth and final round, when he landed big and had Duddy hurt, but couldn’t seal the deal.  Vanda won his last three fights of 2009, thought the first – the decision win against Pudwill –  seems to have been controversial in some quarters.  The win against Teddy Muller made an important statement – Vanda showed that he could outpunch a legitimate super middleweight.  Vanda’s defeat of Phil Williams was his highlight of the year.  With his herky-jerky dancing, taunting, and trash-talking during the fight, Vanda showed the kind of energy and bravado that were once his trademark, but which have gone largely missing in the last couple of years.
  5. Phil Williams (11-2 with 10 kayos) – This was an up-and-down year for the barber from north Minneapolis.  Down: his unanimous decision win against mediocre Isaiah Henderson wasn’t a knockout.  Up: A TKO of former contender Antwun Echols resulted in an enthusiastic endorsement from Echols, and Williams’ stock was rising fast.  Down again: the loss to Vanda was puzzling because Williams is a much bigger puncher and a much more imposing figure, but it was Vanda who took the initiative and stuck it to Williams for the first six rounds.  Williams had his moments in the last few rounds, but a few big bombs aren’t enough against a tough and determined foe like Vanda.  Williams says he’s learned that lesson.
  6. Caleb Truax (14-0 with 9 kayos) – The gregarious young man from Osseo with a college degree and a million-dollar smile did nothing but rise in 2009.  Truax won five out of five this year, with three wins coming by KO or TKO.  More importantly, Truax began to step up to tougher opponents this year; his last three fights came against men with records of 11-2, 25-6, and 12-2.  Why is Truax not ranked higher?  Because his last two opponents really stretched him.  But keep an eye on this one: a fight with Andy Kolle seems almost inevitable.
  7. Joey Abell (25-4 with 24 kayos) – Maybe you raised your eyebrows when you saw Abell ranked in this slot, but his career record of 25-4 with 24 kayos is only half of the story.  If you weren’t at Target Center on December 4th you didn’t see that Abell was one combination away from taking a knockout win in his state championship match with Raphael Butler.  That fight ended, unfortunately, with Abell getting his knockout but not the win; the knockout came on a punch after the bell.  It makes you wonder what could happen for this big heavyweight if he could just have one good night where nothing goes wrong.
  8. Dave Peterson (12-0 with 7 kayos) – Sometimes he looks like a great talent, sometimes he doesn’t.  Dave Peterson returned from a long layoff to go 3-0 in 2009, but his results were something of a mixed bag.  His win against Joshua Rodriguez was expected and his narrow victory against Cory Rodriguez looked like a big one at the time, but his TKO win against Silas Ortley should raise some questions.  Peterson was bigger and stronger, but he didn’t look tremendously fit and he got hit much more frequently than a 12-0 prospect should.  Maybe it was an unfavorable matchup, or maybe he had some bad milk before the fight.  I’m not saying, I’m just saying.
  9. Mohammed Kayongo (15-2 with 11 kayos) – Kayongo, aka the African Assassin, had only one fight this year, but it was an important one for his nearly comatose prizefighting career (Kayongo had fought only twice in the preceding three years).  Kayongo was favorably matched with an inexperienced 2-1-1 brawler, improbably for an alphabet title.  Kayongo was the faster and harder-hitting man in that fight, and his reward was a 3rd-round TKO win and the WBF Intercontinental welterweight title.  What a way to get your name back in the mix!
  10. Cory Rodriguez (4-0 with 3 kayos) – Here’s another fighter who had only one fight this year, but it was the close loss to Peterson.  Rodriguez is a guy who could be in a lot better place if he fought more frequently.  Promoters like to cast him as a money-grubbing prima donna, but this writer likes C-Rod personally and hopes that his 2010 is much better than his 2009.
  11. Antwan Robertson (5-1-1 with 3 kayos) – Robertson and his rival, Brad Patraw, could almost be tied in this spot.  After all, they split two fights in 2009.  But there are two reasons why Robertson is ranked above Patraw: first, he knocked Patraw down twice in his win, while Patraw never managed a knockdown of Robertson in his win.  Secondly, Robertson’s win against Patraw was the rematch.  A third bout between the two seems like a sure thing in 2010, but sure things don’t come to pass nearly as often as we expect.
  12. Brad Patraw (6-1 with 4 kayos) – In contrast to his absolute confidence before and during his March win against Robertson, Patraw seemed confused and unsure of himself in the October loss.  Hopefully Patraw returns to form in the new year.  His next bout is penciled in for January.
  13. Willshaun Boxley (5-3 with 3 kayos) – The difference between Boxley and the two men ranked just above him?  Boxley has been taking the toughest out-of-town fights he can get and losing.  One big win on the road would see Boxley leap over not only Robertson and Patraw, but a bunch of other names on this list as well.
  14. Gary Eyer (7-0-1 with 5 kayos) – Eyer is one of those guys who are just fun and exciting to watch.  After his big slugging match with Levi Cortes at Target Center in December, Eyer isn’t a well-kept secret anymore.  The lightweight from Duluth might be much more desirable to promoters now, but the retirement of Jungle Boy Walters could instead result in his being more carefully matched.
  15. Raphael Butler (35-8 with 28 kayos) – It seems obvious that Butler was in serious danger of a legal knockout before Joey Abell flattened him after the bell in their December title match.  The no-contest spared Butler the loss on his record, but at what price?  The NC result was the result of a brutal after-the-bell knockout that resulted in some short-term memory loss.  That’s serious stuff.
  16. Scott Ball (10-6 with 8 kayos) – Ball returned to the prizefighting ring after a twenty-two month layoff with an impressive first-round stoppage against journeyman Mike Davis.  Tall, slim, and young, Ball has a reputation as a good technical boxer with decent power.
  17. Cerresso Fort (9-0 with 8 kayos) – Hopefully Mr. Fort can continue to step up in terms of quality of opponent while duplicating his 5-0 record in 2009.  On the other hand, fans of Minnesota boxing would not like to see Fort fight the same way against Phil Williams or Caleb Truax that he did against Lamar Harris; a display of wild and undisciplined slugging not befitting an undefeated prospect.  Fort got the win in that one, but that kind of performance won’t do the job against Minnesota’s better middleweights.
  18. Javontae Starks (2-0 with 2 kayos) – Starks is only 2-0, but they were two great knockout wins.  This youngster is the kind of prospect that the state of Minnesota doesn’t produce very often.  The tall and slender Starks is unnaturally strong and fast.  Watch for improvement in his fundamentals – that will be a sign of how hard this ambitious and optimistic young man is working in the gym.
  19. Jeremy McLaurin (6-0 with 4 kayos) – He has yet to lose, he recently signed a promotional deal with MSC, and he is a strong and accurate puncher.  It’s unclear what McLaurin’s ceiling is, but it seems clear that he hasn’t reached it yet.
  20. Levi Cortes (3-1 with 2 kayos) – I’ll admit to not knowing anything about Cortes prior to his fight with Gary Eyer in December.  Now I’m a fan.  Cortes has a wicked right hand and looks very strong.  Other than that, I can’t tell you much.  He doesn’t seem to have much of a plan in the ring and he tired rapidly against Eyer, but that could have been the result of Eyer’s tremendous counters rather than any cardio deficiency on Cortes’s part.

Missed the cut:

Michael Faulk – keep winning in 2010 and you’ll make next year’s list, Mike.

Yevgeniy Shishporenok (Boris the Russian Giant) – One good win away from taking the 20th spot, Shishporenok has compiled a pretty good record against pretty bad opposition.

Antonio Johnson – Just one fight in 2009, no wins since 2007…I want to include Johnson on this list but it’s hard to justify it.  One win against anyone  in 2009 would have done the job.

Allen Litzau – not a bad fighter, but no big wins in several years.  I’m hoping to see Allen fight and win several times in 2010.

Kenny Kost – didn’t fight in 2009.  I have to consider Kost retired until he fights again.

Anthony Bonsante – retired after the loss to Kolle in March.