Tag Archives: Anthony Bonsante

The Best of Minnesota Boxing: 2010

It’s almost time to close the door on 2010, but before we do, let’s talk about the Best, worst, and most remarkable moments of the last year.  I don’t know whether anyone – fan, media, or official – has been to all the pro boxing shows in Minnesota in 2010.  The most likely candidate for that achievement would be Jesse Kelley of Minnesotaboxing.com.  But I’ve been fortunate to attend many of them.  This year’s “Best Of” awards are based partly on media reports and partly on word of mouth, but mostly on my own eyes.

Rules:  A fighter is eligible for consideration if he’s from Minnesota, regardless of where his fights have taken place or who he was fighting.  A fight is eligible if it took place in Minnesota or if one or both of the combatants was a Minnesotan.

Knockout of the Year

Javontae Starks TKO1 Alexander Tousignant on May 22nd at Shooting Star Casino – Starks displayed his preternatural punching power in this springtime bout in Mahnomen.  For not the first time in his career, Starks started slowly, allowing his opponent to take some free shots while Starks leaned back on the ropes.  I have no idea why he does that.  But then Starks let his left hand fly and sent Tousignant reeling.  Taking advantage of Tousignant’s vulnerable state, Starks flattened him with one more punch, and though Tousignant did somehow make it back to his feet before he could be counted out, referee Mark Nelson had no choice but to stop the fight.

Honorable mention: Andy Kolle TKO1 Darryl Salmon, Joey Abell TKO2 Josh Gutcher, Andy Kolle KO1 Francisco Ruben Osorio

Fight of the Year

Tony Lee UD4 David Laque on December 18th at Target Center in Minneapolis – Lee dominated the early going and looked to have Laque outclassed after two rounds.  But Laque refused to be worn down, and after scoring with a nice combination in the third, managed to bloody Lee’s nose before the round ended.  The fourth and final round showcased each man’s best attributes: Lee’s volumes of crisp and accurate punching versus Laque’s grit and determination.  This one turned into a real crowd-pleaser.

Honorable mention:  Caleb Truax SD10 Phil Williams, Corey Rodriguez and Charles Meier 6-round draw in which each man is knocked down once,  Ismail Muwendo RTD5 David Laque

Worst Moment of the Year

Matt Vanda’s suspension revealed in the morning on the day of his scheduled main event bout with Phil Williams – This episode hurt everyone involved.  Vanda looks unprofessional for failing to apprise the state commission of his true status, Williams is cheated out of a bout that he both wanted and needed, the commission looks inept for not knowing that Vanda had been suspended in New Jersey and was ineligible to fight in Minnesota, and both the promoter and the venue failed to notify the fans that the Main Event was no longer an officially sanctioned bout until the fans were in the building.  Some of these criticisms may turn out to be unfounded, but the appearance of wrongdoing can be as damaging as the reality.

Dishonorable mention:  Jon Schmidt and Josh Crouch are forced into a No-Contest due to a nasty cut caused by a clash of heads in round 4 of 6 scheduled.

Best Moment of the Year

If you were smart enough and lucky enough to buy a ticket while they were available, you saw the remarkable fruit of a remarkable labor when the brand new Minnesota Boxing Hall of Fame honored its first class of inductees at Jax Cafe in northeast Minneapolis on October 12th.  This event, and the effort that it signifies, will have a more significant and lasting impact on the boxing scene in Minnesota than any boxing match or fight card we’ve seen in the last year.  The event was granted more coverage by the local media than they would ever give to an actual fight – even an important one – but maybe in the spirit of the moment we should be thankful for the attention given rather than resentful of perceived slights.

Honorable mention: Jason Litzau’s big win – read the next item!

Upset of the Year

Jason Litzau SD10 Celestino Caballero on November 27th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas – Though it’s true that some local fans were predicting a Litzau victory based on a variety of factors (styles, weight classes, body types, Litzau’s commitment to the sport), the underlying factor is undeniably homerism.  Anyway, it’s the Vegas odds that count, and by various accounts Litzau was a 12-1 or 15-1 underdog when he stepped into the ring.

Honorable mention: Hector Orozco UD6 Jeremy McLaurin, Bobby Kliewer SD8 Anthony Bonsante, Christopher Martin SD10 Chris Avalos

Best Performance on the Road

Jason Litzau SD10 Celestino Caballero on November 27th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas – It’s been reported by enough sources just how Litzau did it, but what’s most important for boxing fans in Minnesota – in the Upper Midwest as a whole – is that one of our own went out on the road and won the big one.  This win was the biggest road triumph for an Upper Midwest boxer since Will Grigsby beat Victor Burgos for the IBF Light Flyweight title in 2005.  That contest, interestingly, was also hosted by the MGM Grand.  Keep an eye on that venue, fight fans.

Honorable mention: Jason Litzau TD7 Rocky Juarez

Prospect of the Year

Ismail Muwendo (7-0 with 6 kayos) – The lithe young Ugandan billed as the “Sharp Shooter” has his sights set on the big time.  He has already come a long way, but his destiny as a prizefighter is only partly in his hands – like any fighter, his career will be influenced by outside forces including (but not limited to) frequency of boxing shows in the local market, the performance of manager and trainer Scott Tolzmann, his own health, cash flow within the industry, and other factors.  Based on the part of the equation that Muwendo can control – his performance in the ring – his future looks very, very promising.

Honorable mention: Tony Lee, Jamal James, Gary Eyer

Boxer of the Year

Jason Litzau (28-2 with 21 kayos) – Litzau’s metamorphosis from an irrepressible brawler with untapped potential into a legitimate contender at the worldwide level is the biggest and best news in Minnesota boxing in 2010, though it didn’t all happen just in the last twelve months.  One attestation of Litzau’s transformation is the fact that the man who started his career with 14 straight KO or TKO wins and once sported a record of 20-0 with 18 kayos has now gone four bouts without putting away an opponent.  Litzau has embraced the virtue of winning his fights by any possible means, even if that means substance over style.

Honorable mention: Andy Kolle


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.

Round-by-Round: December 18th at Target Center

Correspondent Joel Bauman

Guest Correspondent Joel Bauman

By Joel “Broomsticks” Bauman

Matt Vanda -vs- Phil Williams [ed: the featured bout of the evening, this fight was changed from a ten-rounder to a six-round exhibition due to a licensing issue on Vanda’s part.  Though no official reason has been given for licensing problem, rumors abound that Vanda failed a drug test in conjunction with his last bout, a loss to Ossie Duran in New Jersey on November 12th.]

Round 1

Early on Phil stays constant. Landing multiple jabs to the head.  Vanda answers back with a nice body body head combination. Williams continues to keep Vanda on the outside of his jab throughout most of the round.  Vanda slips past and lands a nice shot to the body.  They end the round with foreheads touching throwing short uppercuts and hooks.

Round 2

The round starts out with Vanda landing a nice head-body combination to set the pace.  Vanda continues to throw hard punch combinations landing shots to the head and body.  Phil answers with repeated jabs and pushes Vanda back into the ropes where he keeps the pressure on him picking his shots. Most of the round is spent with Phil having Vanda on the ropes picking his shots decisively with Vanda answering with hard three to four punch combinations.

Round 3

The round starts out with Vanda coming out the aggressor throwing many three to four punch combinations to the head and body. Phil answers with stiff jabs keeping Vanda at a distance and outside.  Vanda contninues to close the distance to land quick explosive body shot combinations.  Williams presses forward to put Vanda on the ropes again where he throws short arm punches to the head and body to finish the round.

Round 4

Williams comes out and lands a stiff jab and Vanda answers back with heavy hooks to the body.  Williams closes the distance and continues to throw short arm uppercuts and hooks while Vanda is against the ropes.  They break and Vanda lands multiple hooks and jabs with Williams answering with straights and uppercuts. The round ends with fighters exchanging unfriendly looks and statements that makes the ref step in to corner them.

Round 5

Williams comes out the aggressor taunting Vanda putting his hands down and landing multiple hooks.  Williams continues to push forward putting Vanda on the ropes where he lands short arm punches. Vanda answers with hard body and head combinations.  Both men getting action in on the exchange by the ropes. The round ends with Vanda against the ropes taking more short uppercuts answering with hard body combinations.

Round 6

Vanda comes out swinging landing a looping left hook right away that makes Williams taunt by dropping his hands. Both fighters now drop their hands to taunt each other.  Both fighters throw heavy shots and big punches keeping each other honest and making them stay elusive. At the end of the fight Williams connects with a big left hook that sends Vanda back to the ropes where he crowds him to look for the finish to end the round.

Scores: None; exhibition

Jamal James (now 3-0 with 3 kayos) defeats Ryan Gronvold (now 1-6) by TKO in round 1 of 4 rounds scheduled

Round 1

Each fighter comes out quick looking to find their distance. James lands early with a stiff jab. He starts to capitalize on his reach advantage backing Gronvold up with more jabs keeping him on his outside. Gronvold presses forward and gets tagged with a counter left hook that sends him back to the ropes followed by more hooks to the head and body. Gronvold regains himself and looks for the hold. As Gronvold makes his way forward he gets tagged with a big left hook that drops his hands and makes the referee step in to call it at 1:49 in the first round for James.

Anthony Bonsante (now 32-12 with 18 kayos) is defeated by Bobby Kliewer (now 11-12 with 5 kayos) by Split Decision after 8 rounds

Round 1

The match starts with Bonsante showing his elusiveness dodging a combination while answering with a stiff jab to the body. Both fighters are looking to find distance for their shots. Kliewer starts to work the jab and get the upper hand early.

Round 2

Kliewer starts to work his jab early in the round and presses Bonsante to the ropes to put him down. Bonsante rises to his feet and advances forward looking for a lunging combination and gets tagged with a counter right straight to bring him down again. Bonsante rises to his feet to finish out the round.

Round 3

Bonsante starts to show some aggressive nature early in the round and tags Kliewer with a stiff combination. Kliewer answers with more jabs looking to land his straight. Bonsante seems to have gained confidence and continues to push forward most of the round landing big hooks to the body Winning the close exchanges .

Round 4

Bonsante looks determined and comes out swinging landing a big combination to the head right away. Kliewer fights him off with 1-2 combinations to the head. Bonsante continues to press forward most of the round being the more aggressive fighter while Kliewer looks to counter.

Round 5

Both fighters come out exchanging jabs early. Bonsante continues to move forwards scoring a knockdown off a hook from a hold. Kliewer comes back aggressive and holds Bonsante. Bonsante lifts and drops him losing a point. Fighters exchange heavy combinations in the middle of the ring. The 10 second bell rings and Bonsante catches a straight to his right eye that sends him to the mat for an 8 count to end the round.

Round 6

Both fighters come out with Bonsante looking for jabs with Kliewer countering with straights. Bonsante continues to look for big punch combinations as Kliewer looks to capitalize on his straights and jabs. Bonsante starts to work his 1-2 and lands multiple combinations through the round.

Round 7

Bonsante comes out throwing some jabs followed by straights connecting with multiple combinations. Kliewer counters and steps forward landing some shots to make Bonsante look for the hold. Both fighters stay aggressive landing big shots to the body and head.

Round 8

Kliewer lands a nice 1-2 to start the round with Bonsante answering with a hook to send him back. Bonsante continues to push the pace landing many jabs and straights pushing Kliewer to the ropes and corners landing big punches. Kliewer continues to answer with counter straights. Both men exchange big shots all over the ring with Bonsante pushing most of the pace throughout the last round with Kliewer answering with counters.

Tony Lee (now 2-0 with no kayos) defeats David Laque (now 2-7-1 with 2 kayos) by Unanimous Decision after 4 rounds

Round 1

Both fighters are elusive right away with Lee breaking forward with big punches backing up Laque early. Laque begins to answer by moving forward trying to find his distance. Lee continues to keep the pressure on Laque throwing big punches

Round 2

Lee again comes out swinging with big shots and backing up Laque early in the round. While Lee comes forward Laque looks to score ducking and weaving looking for counters.

Round 3

This round shows to be the most promising for Laque as he comes out landing a combination to head and body early. Lee answers with more big shots and combinations to the head and body. Laque lands a big counter left hook in the middle of the round that makes Lee’s nose start to bleed. Laque starts t gain confidence, getting close and landing some big shots.

Round 4

Laque starts to pressure Lee and begins to gain confidence crowding Lee and landing some shots inside. Lee begins to retaliate with the same onslaught of head and body counter hooks backing up Laque yet again. Laque answers by keeping the pressure forward and his hands moving. Lee continues to look and land big hooks late in the round that land hard but don’t seem to bring Laque down. Laque moves forward to continue to pressure till the end of the round showing his heart.

Scores: 40-36 40-36 40-36, all in favor of Lee

Antwan Robertson (now 6-4-1 with 4 kayos) is defeated by Brad Patraw (now 7-3 with 4 kayos) by Unanimous Decision after 6 rounds.  Patraw regains the Minnesota State bantamweight belt that he lost to Robertson in October of ’09.

Round 1

Much respect shown by both fighters early with Brad being the first to move forward. Patraw is backing up Robertson with a lot of forward movement not giving him time to set his feet while sticking him with multiple hooks to the body. Robertson seems to be looking to find some distance to land some punches but continues to get crowded by Patraw. Patraw gets Robertson to the ropes throughout the round and lands multiple hooks to the head and body.

Round 2

Early Robertson comes forward making Patraw miss landing a counter right straight sending Patraw to the ropes. Robertson chases him but can’t seem to take advantage of the situation making Patraw have to hold. Patraw regains his composure and starts to move forward again landing more big shots to the body of Robertson. Robertson lands another big counter straight to let Patraw know he is still in the fight; however Patraw still is the more aggressive fighter keeping Robertson on his heels the majority of the round.

Round 3

Patraw begins to pressure early in the round landing some hooks to the body and head. Robertson starts to become passive trying to move more while Patraw continues to back him up with body shots and combinations. Robertson doesn’t seem to be throwing many punches and looks comfortable with Patraw being the aggressor. Robertson lands a few counter hooks and straights in the round, but most of the big shots are from Patraw.

Round 4

Both fighters meet in the middle early with Patraw coming out swinging. Robertson starts to let his hands go early but can’t seem to answer Patraw’s constant pressure as he continues to get backed up and and hit in the corner. Robertson holds and looks to land big hooks on the breaks landing few but he continues to get backed up against the ring throughout the round and hit hard in the body.

Round 5

Robertson starts to let his hands go early pushing the pace to back up Patraw. Patraw answers with big shots staying comfortable with his newly acquired slowed down pace. Robertson continues to press forward, looking for powerful combinations to the head and body while Patraw continues to stay and look comfortable. Patraw stays passive while focusing mostly on his movement, landing some jabs and straights to finish the round.

Round 6

Robertson comes out the aggressor with Patraw being elusive and defensive. Patraw starts to move forward backing up Robertson with body shots leaving himself open for a big counter. Patraw stumbles back with Robertson looking for the finish landing heavy shots on Patraw. Patraw regains himself and pushes Robertson back again. The round ends with Patraw landing shots on Robertson against the ropes to solidify his victory.

Scores: 59-55 59-55 59-55, all in favor of Patraw

Don Tierney (now 3-2 with 1 kayo) is defeated by Bobby Butters Jr (now 1-1) by Unanimous Decision after 4 rounds

Round 1

Butters startss to look to find the distance of his jab early while being the immediate aggressor. Tierney is picking his shots and is so far (early in this fight) being a defensive counter puncher. Butters gets Tierney up against the ropes early and looks to land big shots, however Tierney lands nice counters on the breaks. Butters puts his hands down to taunt and gets tagged with a right straight. The bad blood is eminent; however Butters seems to be pressing the action with big punches to the body and ribcage.

Round 2

Again Butters comes out being the aggressor with Tierney moving around the ring trying to create space, backing Butters up with stiff counters. Butters stays resilient in looking to land many hooks to the body with Tierney countering with many shots to the head. Butters continues to look for mostly body in round two while Tierney is looking to passively counter.

Round 3

Tierney starts out being the immediate aggressor; however, Butters backs Tierney up to the ropes and lands a nice left upper cut with Tierney countering hard with a straight right. This sends Butters back into the ropes where he lands another straight that forces Butters to hold. On the break, Butters presses forward to work for the body as Tierney continues to counter and land very hard straight rights that send Butters back to the ropes yet again. The bell rings as Butters regains himself from a hold.

Round 4

Both fighters come out early throwing big shots looking to win decisively against the other. Butters starts to taunt and gets back up to the ropes. Tierney continues to look to counter as the action slows. Tierney gets backed into the corner where he lands some big hooks that questionably downs Tierney with Tierney immediately rising to his feet landing a lunging straight right that lands while he begins to get counted. Tierney is upset about the call and both fighters meet in the center throwing a borage of punches to end the round.

Scores: 40-35 40-35 38-37, all in favor of Butters

John Jackson (now 15-1-1 with 13 kayos) and Willshaun Boxley (now 6-7-1 with 4 kayos) fight to a majority draw after 6 rounds

Prefight: A very intense staredown from both fighters.

Round 1

Jackson starts working the jab early keeping his hands high. Both fighters are looking to find their distance early. Boxley finds Jacksons early and continues to work it many times throughout the first. Jakcson is landing more combinations, while Boxley shows his power early with counter hooks and straights to the body. Very intense, action-filled first round.

Round 2

Jackson starts to look for the jab early. Boxley lands another hard straight to the body. Jackson starts to let his hands fly and lands a mean 4 shot combination. Boxley is moving forward while Jackson is looking to stick and move. More punches are being thrown by Jackson this roundl

Round 3

Boxley moves forward early landing another bod shot. Jackson lands a nice combination of 3.. Answered by jab to a hard hook that seemed to wobble Jackson. Both fighters are landing powerful shots. Jackson starts to move forward after he lands a nice combination of multiple shots to the head and body, and continues to move forward until the end of the round with Boxley landing nice counter hooks

Round 4

Jackson comes out and lands a nice two jab combination with a straight down to the body. With Boxley answering with 3 straight rights to the body. Both fighters are landing nice counters. Jackson seems to be the aggressor in these later rounds with Boxley landing nice counters in the exchange.

Round 5

Jackson comes out the aggressor pumping the jab and throws a nice right hook that landed. Boxley lands a nice counter shot and continues to look to counter throughout the round. Jackson is looking to let his hands fly landing big shots to the body backing up Boxley. Boxley is landing a nice counter 1-2 however that makes Jackson aware that he is still in the fight. Jackson continues

Round 6

Both fighters meet in the center looking for jabs and straights early with Jackson landing the cleaner shots. Jackson backs Boxley up to the ropes and lands powerful shots making Boxley hold him, Backson again gets him in the corner sending hooks to the body making Boxley hold. Jackson continues to be the aggressor Boxley landing nice shots on the break.

Scores: 57-57 57-57 58-56, Draw

Afterwards both fighters talk in the center of the ring

Jonathan Perez (now 1-0 with 1 kayo) defeats Randy Ronchi (now 0-2) by TKO in round 1 of 4 rounds scheduled

Round 1

Perez starts to push the action landing the first shots including a jab and a nice left hook to the body. Ronchi begins to look for counter shots and is seeming to respect the power of Perez’s punches.. Perez scores a knockdown in the first from a left hook. Perez lands another knockdown from a counter left hook to the head. Ronchi again makes it to his feet. Perez immediately comes out to look for the finish, lands a counter right straight to get the final knockdown at 2:31 of the first for the win.

Boxing Results: Seasons Beatings, December 18th, 2010 (Vanda, Williams, Bonsante, etc)

A blow-by-blow account of tonight’s proceedings will be posted as soon as it’s received from our correspondent at ringside, Joel “Broomsticks” Bauman.

Matt Vanda (43-12 with 23 knockouts) -vs- Phil Williams (11-3-1 with 10 knockouts), super middleweights, scheduled for 10 rounds – this fight was changed to a six-round exhibition due to “a licensing problem” that the promoters’ representative said was unknown to the promoter until 10am Saturday morning.  The licensing problem is said to be related to Vanda’s last fight, a wipeout loss to Ossie Duran in New Jersey on November 12th.

Jamal James (now 3-0 with 3 knockouts) defeats Ryan Gronvold (now 1-6) by TKO in round 1 of 4 scheduled

Anthony Bonsante (now 32-12 with 18 knockouts) is defeated by Bobby Kliewer (now 11-12 with 5 knockouts) by decision after eight rounds.

Tony Lee (now 2-0 with no knockouts) defeats David Laque (now 2-7-1 with 2 knockouts) by decision after 4 rounds.  Fight is said to be a thriller!

Antwan Robertson (now 6-4-1 with 4 knockouts) is defeated by Brad Patraw now (7-3 with 4 knockouts) by unanimous decision after six rounds.  Patraw reclaims the Minnesota State bantamweight title that he lost to Robertson in 2009.

Don Tierney (now 3-2 with 1 kayo) is defeated by Bobby Butters Jr (now 1-1 with no kayos), light middleweights, scheduled for 4 rounds

John Jackson (now 15-1-1 with 13 knockouts) and Willshaun Boxley (now 6-7-1 with 4 knockouts) fight to a majority draw after 6 rounds

Jonathan Perez (now 1-0 with 1 kayo) defeats Randy Ronchi (now 0-2) by TKO in round 1 of 4 scheduled

“If You Laid All the Professional Boxers in Minnesota End-to-End…”

“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!

Kolle-Vanda 2 and Kost-Truax In the Works

Jim Erickson, boxing commissioner for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe (Grand Casino Hinckley), has confirmed a tip to the Fistic Mystic that Midwest Sports Council (MSC) has come out on top in the bidding for the next boxing show at the casino, and that the headlining bout of the evening is expected to be Andy Kolle-Matt Vanda Part-2.  “Yes, the contract has yet to be routed through corporate control at the casino, so it isn’t final, but that is correct.”

Caleb Truax

Caleb Truax

The tip came from a source with intimate knowledge of the bid, who also asserted that the losing bid from Seconds Out Promotions would have had Caleb Truax fighting Kenny Kost.  Reached for comment, Truax corroborated the report, saying that that fight “is in the works and hopefully both sides can make this fight happen, because it’s a fight that Minnesota boxing fans want to see.”  It’s no sure thing that the fight will happen without casino money, but for his part, Truax definitely wants it.  In fact, he’s been talking about this matchup for at least a year and a half.  In July of 2008 Truax told me that “I’d love to get two or three more fights and then get in with Kenny Kost. He’s an interesting guy, and he’s been around the block. He’s a little smaller than me, but I can get down to his weight without too much trouble. Hopefully he’ll think the same way…”

The two matches are compelling, but the bigger picture is this: with Kolle’s defeat of Anthony Bonsante for the Minnesota middleweight championship last spring and Bonsante’s subsequent retirement, Kolle (19-2 with 14 kayos), Vanda (42-9 with 22 kayos), Kost (14-4 with 6 kayos), and Truax (14-0 with 9 kayos) are the top four middleweights in Minnesota.  If this spring brings us Kolle-Vanda 2 and Truax-Kost, that would amount to a nice little unsanctioned Minnesota middleweight tournament.  A championship match might not be inevitable, but it might turn out to be too lucrative to pass up.

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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.