Tag Archives: Caleb Truax

Two Minnesota Fighters to Perform on TV in April

On April 11th, Caleb Truax challenges Danny Jacobs in New York City for Jacobs’ WBA World Middleweight Title. (This title represents what we used to call #1 contender, as the actual WBA “SUPER CHAMPION” is Gennady Golovkin.) This event will be televised on NBC.

Then on April 17th we have Robert Brant -vs TBA at Grand Casino Hinckley. Brant is a boxing prodigy – won a national amateur title within a year of putting on the gloves for the first time. Rumors are circulating that Brant is hoping to fight another local middleweight with impressive amateur credentials. This event will be televised on CBS Sports Network.

January 3rd Recap: A Wild Night in a Tame Town

On a snowy night in Minneapolis, Rances Barthelemy caught a lucky break, Argenis Mendez drew the opposite number, Ossie Duran spoiled the coming out party of the hometown hero, and Caleb Truax learned that he still has more to learn.

Rances Barthelemy and Argenis Mendez were matched for Mendez’s IBF Junior Lightweight trinket and the title that it represents.  Barthelemy, the challenger, won the bout under controversial circumstances.

The first round started slowly, with Mendez being respectful and tentative and Barthelemy testing the waters and evidently laying a trap.  After some soft jabbing and unexpectedly passive behavior, Barthelemy erupted about halfway through the first round with a ferocious attack that hurt Mendez.  In the second, Mendez was initially more active and tried to regain the initiative, but Barthelemy remained in control.  Finally Barthelemy exploded again and knocked Mendez down.  Then the end of the second was the beginning of controversy, as Barthelemy threw a right and a left well after the bell, and knocked Mendez out.  Though the referee and the TV audience didn’t hear the bell, numerous ringside observers and at least one IBF official in attendance confirmed to this writer that the knockout punch was thrown significantly after the chime.  Most up-to-date word is that an appeal will be  heard by the IBF, so hopefully the result can be changed to a No Contest and a rematch ordered.

In the Co-Main Event, Ossie Duran posed an unexpectedly tough test for rising middleweight star Caleb Truax, who was unable to solve Duran’s hard jab despite an admirable effort.  The end result was a unanimous draw, scored 95-95 by all three judges.

Duran is known to be a tough and experienced veteran, and he surely raised his stock by frustrating Truax with his tight defense and that punishing jab.  Truax maintained an aggressive attitude throughout, but wasn’t able to penetrate Duran’s defense with any consistency.  Though Truax had his moments (particularly in the later rounds), the enduring images of this fight will be Duran’s left hand in Truax’s face and the smudge of blood around Truax’s nose.

Though one wag was heard to say unequivocally that Truax should never rematch Duran, I think the opposite.  Duran was a tough riddle for Truax mainly because Truax had such difficulty solving the jab.  Truax should work on countermeasures for that jab and once he has learned to cope with it, he should show the world his improvement.  Or at the very least, he should make time to spar with Duran.

In undercard action:

  • Adrian Martinez (2-0-1) defeated Trevor Marmon (1-1-1) in a rematch of their September 21st draw.  The first match between the two was a crowdpleasing slugfest with an inconclusive conclusion, but this one brought a decisive result.  Marmon started out strong and aggressive, but Martinez’s strong leads and counters sapped his strength and Marmon ran completely out of gas (and verticality) in the third.  The result was a 3rd round TKO, per world-class referee Mark Nelson.
  • Dennis Galarza, a 21 year old whippet from Orlando, whipped Celiel Castillo in another four-rounder.  Castillo was much shorter than Galarza, and looked physically very soft.  Galarza knocked Castillo down in the first and maintained his dominance for the duration, finishing up with 40-35 scores across the board.  Galarza improved his record to 2-0 while Castillo chalked up a loss in his professional debut.
  • Erickson Lubin wasted no time in thrashing his opponent, Luis Santiago.  Lubin, with a wedge-shaped shock of hair atop his head, hammered his unfortunate opponent for one minute before taking him out at 1:01 of the first.  It was Santiago’s first loss after four wins to inaugurate his professional career.  Lubin advanced to 2-0 with 2 KOs, and more to come if he continues to perform as he did tonight.
  • Javontae Starks moved to 8-0 with 5 knockouts with a split decision win against Limberth Ponce, whose record is now 6-1 with 4 knockouts.  This match sometimes looked like a boxing match, other times a war.  Starks is a beautiful boxer with a strong right hand, while Ponce, in a pinch, would resort to brawling tactics.  The split result is an accurate reflection of the nature of the bout; one could have had either man winning.  The only result that couldn’t conscientiously be forwarded was a scoring draw, since Starks scored a knockdown with a big right-handed counter at the end of the second round.
  • Lightweight prospect Tony Lee improved to 9-1 with 3 knockouts by gutting out a punishing unanimous decision against Willshaun Boxley, now 6-9 with 4 kayos.  Lee is a disciplined and cautious boxer, while Boxley is a flamboyant boxer-puncher who started his career 5-0 and has been in freefall ever since.  Boxley hadn’t fought in nearly two years, and was fighting over ten pounds above his ideal weight, but he showed guts and determination in his bout against a man who held nearly every advantage – height, activity, management.  Boxley’s only advantage was power, but it wasn’t enough to make Lee pay.  Lee boxed well, and punished Boxley mercilessly with a hard and insistent jab.
  • In a sloppy bout campaigned by novices, Damien Hill improved to 2-3 while pinning Nate Richardson (now 1-1) with his first loss.  A fight like this one poses a challenge to the writer, because there is no real narrative to offer.  “Hill hits Richardson.  Now Richardson hits Hill.  Hill hits Richardson again.”  At this level of competition a jab might be no straighter than a hook, and a hook can pass for a straight.  Richardson possesses plenty of aggression and toughness, but those are insufficient virtues for a professional boxer.  Hill is significantly taller, and a more accurate puncher, and that made the difference.

ESPN Friday Night Fights – Round-by-Round – January 3rd, 2014

Adrian Martinez (now 2-0-1) defeats Trevor Marmon (now 1-1-1) by TKO in round 3 of 4 rounds scheduled.

Round 1

About ten seconds in Marmon, a southpaw, makes the first offensive move, leading with the jab.  There’s not much to write home about until 30 seconds in, when Martinez counters a jab with a meaningful right that lands but does no appreciable damage.  All the action is tactical in nature until finally Marmon backs Martinez into a neutral corner and pulls the trigger, but does little before allowing Martinez to escape.  There’s precious little action here.  Marmon is the aggressor, with Martinez looking to counter.  Marmon backs him into the ropes, and for a moment there’s some nice mauling action, with Marmon working the body, but Martinez punches his way out.  Ten seconds to go, and I’m just noticing a red mark on Marmon’s left cheek, when finally Martinez lands a Big right hand that nearly knocks him down.  Marmon saves himself from a knockdown by holding onto Martinez’s hands, falling backwards but pulling Martinez forward, and finally regains his balance.

Round 2

Marmon is again the aggressor.  He leads with that right jab and scores a little bit until Martinez ties him up.  Martinez is trying to remember to jab.    Marmon comes forward, leading with a big left hook, and conects twice to Martinez’s body.  That hurt.  Martin is again backing up and looking to counter.  After a period of inactivity, Martin lands a rising hook to the belly of Marmon.  Now they’re shoulder to shoulder, with Marmon the better mauler.  But Marmon is slowing down, and Martinez is gaining traction.  Martinez fails to capitalize, however.  Marmon comes in at an awkward angle, and Martinez misses with a big power shot.  Suddenly it’s clear that Martinez has found a target in the body of Marmon, and he attacks it with great success, about five or six straight power shots finding their mark.  Bell, and round 2 is over.

Round 3

Marmon is undeterred by the pain doled out to him in the second, and comes right forward into Martinez to start the third.  Martinez is now scoring frequently with power shots, and Marmon is visibly losing steam.  Marmon comes forward, jabbing and connecting, but with no effect.  Martinez attacks the body with vigor, but referee Mark Nelson steps in and warns him for low blows.  Upon resumption of the bout, Martinez resumes his attack and lands several power shots which wobble Marmon.  Marmon looks like he’s being held up by Martinez’s shots.  Finally Marmon drops to the canvas, taking one more shot to the head on his way down.  Nelson waves the fight off, and it is all over.

Celiel Castillo (now 0-1) is defeated by Dennis Galarza (now 2-0 with 1 kayo) after four rounds.

Round 1

Castillo looks notably soft for a small boxer.  The taller, leaner Galarza comes forward immediately, attacking with sharp jabs and power shots.  Castillo  throws back at him, but his shots are light and without effect.  Galarza is following, stalking Castillo, and finally catches him.  A left hook lands  hard and knocks Castillo right on his butt.  Castillo is up quickly, pouting and looking angry.  The fight resumes, and Galarza is the hunter.  He catches Castillo with a flurry that forces Castillo to cover up, but does no further damage.  Just before the bell Castillo feints and Galarza flinches – that might have been Castillo’s best moment of the round.

Round 2

Castillo attacks immediately at the start of the second, backing Galarza into the ropes and landing a bunch of shots, but Galarza counters effectively and bangs his way out.  In the snter of the ring, Castilllo lands a flush shot, but Galarza only sneers.  Galarza attacks again, backing up his much shorter opponent.  Castillo is showing a tougher beard than he did in the first.  But Galarza ccontinues to attack, and Castillo is wilting.  Lacking any visible advantage, all Castillo can do is back up, throwing those light punches up at his opponent.  Now Galarza tracps Castillo against the ropes and leans on him, forcing Catillo’s upper body between the ropes.  There’s a break, but the action after the break is the same.  Galarza stalks and sharpshoots while Castillo retreats.

Round 3

Galarza comes across the ring and attacks immediately.  He shouts when he punches, so his attack is announced as well as presented.  Castillo lands a counter left to Galarza’s head, but Galarza continues to press, trapping Castillo near a neutral corner and hurting him again.  Castillo covers up.  Now the scene repeats, with Galarza on the prowl.  There’s an odd moment when Catillo grapples his way behind Galarza and throws a punch at the bsck of Galarza’s head.  He’s warned by the referee.  Now Galarza is back on the attack, but he’s slowing down somewhat.  Castillo, emboldened, mounts a sustained attack for the first time.  It isn’t efffective, but it’s something.  Catillo attcks again, and Galarza freezes him momentarily with a counter left.  Now Galarza backs Catillo into the ropes, and Catillo lands  a single punch again.  I wouldn’t want you to get the wrong idea, though.  Castillo isn’t getting the upper hand; I just feel the need to point out whenever he lands one of those infrequent scoring punches.  I have Galarza winning all three rounds so far.

Round 4

Castillo knows his predicament, so he comes out aggressive in the fourth.  This opens up opportunities for Galarza, who scores with some well-timed counters.  Galarza is coming forward again; Castillo’s offense has petered out.  Galarza is fighting a more defensive fight now, jabbing and moving, protecting his lead.  Castillo comes forward again, landing four punches of a six punch combination.  Galarza again backs him up, and sharpshoots, landing hard to Castillo’s head.  But Galarza is boxing now, moving about and picking off Catillo.  Castillo is really trying, bless his heart.  But Galarza has his number right up to the end, scoring with well chosen left jabs and following with rights.  There’s the bell, and this fight is over.  It should be a shutout in Galarza’s favor.

Intros: The crowd is on the smallish side, but very enthusiastic as Truax enters the ring.  The Target Center is resonating with the crowd’s vibrations.

Ossie Duran (now 28-11-3 with 11 kayos) and Caleb Truax (now 23-1-2 with 14 kayos) fight to a ten-round draw

Round 1

The fighters are moving quickly but rotating slowly to their left.  There’s a lot of movement and tentative jabs at the start.  Finally Truax taps duran twice with light jabs.  Rangefinders.  The first earnest punch of the fight is a right hook to the body of Duran.  Fifteen seconds later Truax lands two to the body – one on each side.  Truax backs into the ropes but Duran fails to attack, and the fight again moves to the center of the ring.  A voice in the crowd shouts “Knock his beard off!” and Truax grins.  It looks like he almost laughed.  Truax for the first time throws the 1-2 that served him so well against Don George.  Duran throws a big left hook to the midsection of Truax, which is blocked.  This has been a quiet first round.  Duran throws a looping overhand right that may have connected – it’s hard to tell.  Both men try to score just before the bell, but nothing of consequence was landed.

Round 2

Truax comes out jabbing in the second.  Single, double, double followed by a hook.  Duran is still playing it cool.  Both men are.  Now Duran shuffles forward and lands a left hand to the guard of Truax.  Truax is throwing multiple jabs and moving to his right.  There’s an exchange, but neither men  breaks the other’s guard.  Duran jabs, and Truax comes forward then ties up.  Truax is trying to poke that jab through Duran’s defense.  Duran comes forward again.  Truaxx throws a five-punch combination, with the final punch being the harddest.  It looked like that one landed.   Truax throws a big right that Duran blocks with his shoulder, Duran responds with a flurry.  Truax is boxing carefully.  There’s a clinch, and referee Mark Nelson warns Duran about hitting beihind the head.  The fighters are bouncing on their toes as the ten second warning sounds.  Duran attacks and lands a couple of power shots just before the bell.

Round 3

The crowd is urging Truax on, and he comes out and lands a right hook, then a left right away.  Duran throws back.  Truax is moving a lot, looking for an opening.  Now he lands with a left jab and a straight right.  Duran responds moments later with a hard jab to Truax’s face.  Duran comes forward with two jabs and a right hook.  Duran throws a right that impresses the crowd, but Truax blocked it with his left glove.  Truax jabs once high then hooks twice low.  Things are heating up.  Duran is unfazed, and comes forward with two good shots to Truax’s head.  Duran knocks Truax backwards into the ropes, but he attacks with hard shots and comes out.  Truax lands a jab but misses with a downward punch at a ducking Duran.  Bell and round.

Round 4

Truax is getting more aggressive as the fight wears on.  He’s throwing double jabs now, and finally a big right hand to Duran’s head.  Truax may be bleeding from the nose.  Duran is coming forward, throwing heavy wshots.  Duran lands a right hand, and Truax resopnds with a power shot that lands.  Duran throws a left, and Truax whacks him with a hard right to the body.  Truax comes in tight and mauls, but fails to score.  Truax lands a right to the head and a left below the beltline.  Duran attacks and Truax counters well.  Truax throws a left and then a right to the body, and the crowd likes it.  But Duran has a good jab, and he’s using it effectively.Truax lands with a good right, left, left.  Duran fires back.  Duran lands a short right hook to the head of Truax.  Duran continues to jab.  Truax is having trouble blocking that jab, but he’s determined and keeps countering to the bell.

Round 5

This round starts with more jabbing, but now Truax lands two good short rights that thrill the crowd.  Duran is still nominally the aggressor, but Truax is coming forward in spots.  Truax gets in cclose and lands some more sharp power shots.  there’s an exchange, and then referee Mark nelson warns Duran for hitting behind the head.  Truax is scoring more with his power shots, but Duran can always go back to that jab, and he does.  Truax leads with a big right but fails to follow up.  Duran throws a lab and then lunges in with a right, and Truax counters and hurts him.  But Duran, expressionless, shakes his head and comes forward again.  Duran looks a little more tentative – or tired – and the crowd senses things are turning in Truax’s favor.

Round 6

Truax is jabbing more at the start of this round.  Duran scores with a single let, then a single right.  A moment passes, and Truax throws a combination that scores.  Duran is tough as nails though, and comes forward again.  Truax attacks but misses, as Duran is gone when he gets there.  Truax finally hooks to the body and scores, but Duran has an answer for everything.  Duran leans forward and throws a right while balanced on one foot.  Truax throws back and lands two punches.  Now two more.  Now a hard Truax right to the body.  Duran is tired, but still coming forward.  Duran dodges a Truax punch, but Truax gets in close and lands several short hooks to the body.  Duran comes forward and lands, but Truax does the same in response.  Truax lands a big right to the body, Duran tries to respond and Truax flurries, scoring well.  Just before the bell Duran rallies, and one can’t help but admire the effort of both fighters.

Round 7

Truax has urgency as the round begins, jabbing a little and then throwing a combination.  Duran is so unfaed by Truax’s punches, it’s sometimes hard to tell what has landed.  Truax is busy.  Duran throws a left ahnd that lands, then ties Truax up.  Truax flurries and scores, but Duran punctuates the combo with a counter.  Truax is going to the body more.  Duran uppercuts Trua’s head.  Truax steps back and Duran pursues and scores.  Truax misses with a right hook but Duran doesn’t capitalize.  Truax scores with three punches of a five-punch combination, then a single right hook.  Duran is iron man – he comes forward again.    Truax again scores with a right to the head.  Duran is coming forward with single jabs, looking to score big.  Each man tries to land a combination just before the bell, but neither scores.

Round 8

Truax comes up short with a left hand, but batters Duran to the body and shoulders.  Duran comes forward and connects with  Truax’s head.  Truax is doubling-tripling the jab.  Now lands a wide right hook.  Duran continues to stand his ground, but Truax rallies and scores grandly with lefts and rights.  The crowd roars, but Duran responds by coming forward and landing stinging shots, battering Truax into the ropes.  Back in the center of the ring, Truax and Duran orbit to their left.  Truax goes right-head, left-body, and Duran counters.  Truax sores with short power shots, but Duran hurts him back.  Truax gets in close again, and again lands a hard short right.  Just before the bell, Duran scores a left to Truax’s head, then pulls a punch as the bell rings.

Round 9

The crowd stands and roars encouragement to Truax as the round begins, but tis round begins tactically.  Truax jabs, Duran jabs.  They get in close, and Truax throws then ties up  Duran is throwing single jabs, and they’re working.  Finally Truax counters and snaps Duran’s head back with an uppercut.  Duran turtles up for a bit, then comes out and throws.  Truax attacks and misses, and Duran clowns momentarily.  Duran comes in low, and Truax tries to counter at an awkward angle.  the pace is quickening.  Duran comes forward with a triple jab, and Truax answers with a flurry of power shots that hurt Duran and thrills the crowd.  Duran throws his hands up to say “I’m  not hurt,” but I’ve told you over and over what that means.  There’s a little give-and-take as the round ends.

Round 10

Duran looked a little wobbly at the end of the ninth, but he comes out jabbing sharply in the tenth.  Both men are moving to their right.  Then Truax stops and fires, scoring moderately.  Duran counters and lands.  Duran lands a left-handed superman punch, and Truax replies with a four-punch combination that scores.  Duran attacks and lands a one-two – hard.  Truax flurries.  Duran throws and lands a showy and hard single left.  Truax gets close and Duran punishes him to the body.  This fight is turning into a brawl.  Duran is going for broke, and that frees Truax to counter, which is a talent of his.  Both men are tired and are tying up more frequently.  Now breaking, Duran comes forward with a soft left and hard right.  Truax attacks back and hurts him.  Now with ten seconds to go in the fight, Duran bullies Truax into the blue corner where the fighters trade power shots on even terms until the bell rings.

I didn’t score this fight, but my sense is that it was even or a narrow win for Duran, who fought very well in spots.  Truax’s effort was more sustained, but he had fewer winning moments.

Luis Santiago (now 4-1) is defeated by Erickson Lubin (now 2-0 with 2 kayos) by KO at 1:01 of the first round of 4 rounds scheduled.

Round 1

Lubin comes out aggressive from the word go.  He batters Santiago with big left hands and chases him from one end of the ring to the other.  Santiago goes down with a thud in the blue corner, and referee Scott Erickson waves his hands.  This fight is over.

Rances Barthelemy (now 20-0 with 13 kayos) defeats Argenis Mendez (21-3-1 with 11 kayos), for the IBF Junior Lightweight Championship of the World, scheduled for 12 rounds

Round 1

This fight starts slowly, with both men feinting and jabbing softly.  Barthelemy throws a tentative uppercut (is there such a thing?) to the midsection of Mendez.  It might have scored well if it had been in earnest.  Mendez is coming forward and Barthelemy taking it easy until suddenly, with his back to the ropes, Barthelemy explodes in a furious assault that backs Mendez up, momentarily traps him against the ropes, and hurts him to the body.  Mendez’ brow is furrowed as the round continues.  Barthelemy follows him a bit and then hurts Mendez again to the body, and perhaps once to the head.  Mendez comes forward again, and Barthelemy is poking out a perfunctory jab, just trying to keep Mendez off.

Round 2

Mendez left jabs to Barthelemy’s body, and moments later  throws a right at Barthelemy’s shoulder.  Mendez comntinues to come forward, but is missing with most everything.  Barthelemy is backing up again, but he has a nice change of direction and definitely has Mendez on guard.  Mendez is continuing to pursue ineffectively.  Barthelemy throws a slow double jab, but he’s definitelly biding his time.  Another double jab by Barthelemy, and this time he brings it back low and slow.  Mendez gets closer and throws to the body of Barthelemy, but there’s little behind it.  Finally Mendez throws a powerful punch, but Barthelemy responds in kind.  Barthelemy explodes again and knocks Mendez down.  Mendez looks angry, and indicates he was hit in the back of the head.    Now Mendez is back up, and the action resumes.  Barthelemy scores with a good punch just before the bell, and then lands an enormous punch AFTER the bell which knocks Mendez out.  I repeat, that was definitely and obviously AFTER the bell.  Does no one else see this?  Barthelemy and his corner are celebrating deliriously.  Barthelemy should be disqualified for throwing that knockout punch after the bell.

Rances Barthelemy is your new IBF champion, and he did it by knocking his opponent out with a punch landed after the bell.  I am very disappointed.

Limberth Ponce (now 6-1 with 4 kayos) is defeated by Javontae Starks (now 8-0 with 5 kayos by Majority Decision (57-56, 57-56, 56-57) after 6 rounds

Round 1

Starks, frequently a slow starter, is jabbing early.  Ponce is showing a lot of aggressiveness, but nobody is scoring yet.  Starks’ trunks seem to be riding up; he keeps pulling them down.  More jabbing from Starks.  Ponce finally comes in close, and Starks lands a glancing left counter.  Ponce is coming forward, feinting, moving around.  Starks is mostly just pivoting in the center of the ring.  These are all single jabs from Starks.  Now he finally throws a two-punch and then a three-punch combination.  Ponce continues to move.  Referee Gary Miezwa steps in to pull Starks’ trunks back up, which draws chuckles from the crowd, but Starks pulls them back down.  Ponce finally attacks, landing a couple of overhand rights.  Starks responds with an attack of his own, and sneaks one brutal right hand to Ponce’s body.  No doubt that hurt.  But Ponce defends himself with offense, attacking with a furiously that backs Starks into a neutral corner, and batters him.  Starks fires back, but the bell rings.

Round 2

The second round begins as the first one did, with feints by Ponce and jabsby Starks.  Ponce charges in and lands a single shot – Starks ties him up.  Starks coils up and throws a long straight right that connects.  Ponce rushes in and attacks back.  Ponce is moving backwards now, and Starks is avvancing behind that jab.  They get too close, and Ponce ties Starks up.  After the break, Ponce attacks with a fast and hard combination of four or five punches.  POnce and Starks throw simultaneous power shots, and both land.  Ponce continues to back up, then with seconds to go in the round, he attacks and Starks nails him with a rock-hard counter right.  Ponce goes down!  Ponce is up but the bell rings before Starks can do any more work.

Round 3

Ponce comes out looking slightly more tentative.  The look on his face is one of concern, not anger as in the first two rounds.  Starks is looking for his chance to counter as he did last round, and he is allowing Ponce to move in and out and attack.  Each time Ponce lands a pounch, Starks shakes his head and smiles.  If he isn’t toying with Ponce, he sure gives that impression.  Ponce is regaining his confience and attacking the body of Starks.  Ponce gives Starks the old shoeshine, but Starks counters with a hard right at an awkward, off-balance angle.  You don’t see that every day.  Ponce tries to maul Starks, but the two tie up and Starks slaps him to the body as the round expires.

Round 4

This round begins with Ponce circling and jabbing.  Now Starks comes forward, but Ponce throws a hard and effective 1-2 to stop his advance.  Ponce reverts to retreating, and Starks resumes following.  Starks bends at the waist to throw a punch, and Ponce counters with a hurtful shot that sets him up for mower powerr shots.  That’s Ponce’s best moment of the fight.  Starks throws a right to the body and a left to the head that lands cleanly.  Starks grimaces in a clinch and motions toward his head.  Possibly a head butt?  Now Ponce resumes his backwards strategy, and coming forward, Starks hits him with another one of those big right hands.  Starks is tall and slender and has a very long left jab that he follows with a wicked right hook.  Ponce’s face is drawn and blank as the round ends.  He’s still giving and taking, but he doesn’t have the concentrated look that you like to see on a fighter’s face.

Round 5

The bell rings for the fifth round, but the bout is paused for some dangling tape on Ponce’s wrist.  Ponce is looking a little better as this round begins.  Ponce comes forward and puts Starks in a headlock.  Now they’re fighting in a phone booth, and Ponce is throwing everything he can muster at Starks, landing thudding and slapping punches to the body.  Starks is a gifted counterpuncher, though, with a strong chin and great balance.  Ponce goes body-head and scores.  Ponce bulls in with his head down and lands a big right.  Now Starks picks a spot and rocks Ponce with a right.   Ponce is game, but Starks smacks him on the right cheek with a left hand.  Starks pokes Ponce with a light jab and Ponce goes off balance.  But again, Ponce finds a second wind just before the bell and throws an overhand right that lands solidly.  Starks will not put him away this round, as the round ends.

Round 6

Ponce comes out aggressive in the final frame, again throwing everything he can at Starks.  Ponce is determined byut wobbly.  Starks, with that long snaking jab, should be able to keep Ponce on the outside, but fails.  Ponce gets inside and lands two good shots to the head.  Starks felt those.  Starks lands a nice short hook to Ponce’s head, but Ponce counters.  Starks is going for it now, throwing a left and following with his biggest right, but misses.  Starks now throws a single right that catches Ponce by surprise.  Ponce flurries back.  Starks gets Ponce in a corner and lands two good shots, but Ponce doesn’t go down, instead skittering to his right and escaping.  Referee Gary Miezwa breaks the two fighters, and Ponce attacks immediately.  Starks gets free of Ponce, but then Ponce rushes in again and the two tie up until the bell rings.  That’s the fight.

Kudos to Ponce for his guts and determination.  He doesn’t have Starks’ athletic gifts, but he never gave up and he just might have pulled this fight out.

Willshaun Boxley (now 6-9 with 4 kayos) is defeated by Tony Lee (now 9-1 with 3 kayos) by unanimous decision after 6 rounds

Round 1

Lee is busy early on, with a sharp jab that’s keeping Boxley on the outside.  But Boxley gets inside after about 30 rough seconds and lands a wildly looping right that catches Lee and sends him reeling.  Boxley is definitely the stronger man, though Lee has the advantage of length and quickness.  Lee is backing up, Boxley coming forward.  Boxley again lands a big right hand, but this time Lee comes back and after a moment scores with two good shots.  Boxley looks serene and confident as he stalks Lee.  He’s certainly making it hard for Lee to get comfortable.  Lee stands his ground for a moment, then comes forward with a jab.  Moments later Lee misses badly with a jab.  Then just before the bell, Boxley dodges two

Round 2

Lee has slowed things down this round.  Boxley is still ccoming forward.  Boxley ducks in, lands a loud right hand to the body, and disappears.  Lee connects with a glancing right to Boxley’s head, and Boxley laughs.  Lee clips Boxley with a good punch and Boxley ducks into the ropes, getting stuck between them.  Lee winds up and deliberately punches Boxley while he’s trapped.  No no.  Lee is scoring frequently against a rusty Boxley, but Boxley is having fun, clowning, and showing off.  Lee is throwing lefts at Boxley’s body and connecting hurtfully.  Boxley dodges a punch and nods theatrically.  He’s getting under Lee’s skin.  Boxley misses with a wide left hook and there’s a tie up.  After the fighters are broken up, there’s no time for any more fighting.

Round 3

Lee is getting more aggressive this round, throwing power shots and standing his ground.  Boxley hasn’t got the speed or quickness at 135# that he had a few years ago at 122#.  But he does have flair, and he shows it in coming forward and landing a couple of showing punches.  Lee is landing that left hand almost at will now, but Boxley persuades him to fight at close quarters and scores with a couple of good short punches to the body.  After a clinch Lee reverts to jabbing, but Boxley again pushes his way in and lands some hard shots.  Boxley is battering Lee!  Lee is tottering, and Boxley is walking in and rocking him.  but boxley runs out of gas and Lee comes back with a flurry of his own.  Boxley dodges two punches just before the bell.

Round 4

Lee rushes across the ring and jabs the heck out of Boxley at the start.  boxley has a sleepy look.  Is he acting or is he exhausted?  Boxley catches Lee with a left but doesn’t follow up.  Lee is scoring again with that mean jab.  Boxley wants to trade, but Lee walks forward and hits him with a nice double left.  Lee lands five straight punches.  This is hard for a friend of Willshaun Boxley to watch.  Boxley ducks a Lee punch, puts his forehead in lee’s chest, and thuds away with body shots.  There’s a brief clinch and boxley grabs the back of his head.  I don’t know what his complaint is.  Boxley traps Lee in a corner and forces him to clam up, throwing hard shots.  Lee gets away though, and again finds a home for that jab.  The fighters set up to trade, but the bell rings and the round is over.

Round 5

Boxley is trying to get in and out with a right handed power shot aoin the early going, but Lee’s length and quickness are stymieing him.  Lee slows down and that allows Boxley to land another single right.  Now Lee is bouncing away from Boxley, and Boxley is chasing, but he’s too off-balance to land anything solid.    Boxley scores with a good left hand to Lee’s forehead, chases him into a corner, misses with a punch, and elbows Lee in the head on the withdraw.  Lee is looking tired now.  Boxley lands an overhand right.  There’s a standoff, then Boxley comes forward.  Most of his punches have little mustard now, but he’s still trying.  Lee lunges forward and lands a strong left.    Lee throws a flurry of about eight punches, of which only the last one lands, but it’s a good one.  These guys are tired, very tired.  Conditioning could win it.

Round 6

This rounds starts with aggression from Lee.  He’s jabbing Boxley and bouncing him back.  Lee is up on his toes,now he’s showboating.  Boxleyt is trying to jab, but he’s just not long enough to make it work against Lee.  Lee comes forward and Boxley slips a punch, misses with a right, but connects with a left.  Lee is potshotting Boxley now, hurting him.  Boxley puts his hand out to jab, but no punch comes, and he lets it drop.  Lee attacks again, battering him into the ropes, hurting him again.  Boxley wants to brawl, and occasionally he can persude Lee.  He bulls Lee into the ropes and lands a collection of power shots.  Ten seconds to go, and Boxley clowns.  Lee tries to connect, but can’t muster much of an attack.

Damien Hill (now 2-3) defeats Nate Richardson (now 1-1-1 with 1 kayo) by split decision after 4 rounds

Round 1

This looks like a sloppy one from the start.  Hill comes out leading with jabs, hooks, uppercuts, wahtever.  The shoorter man, Richardson is trying to take the initiative, but having trouble getting close and landing.  Hill leads with a straight right.  Richardson backs him intoa  corner and scores, but neither man is a slugger.  Hill, fighting southpaw, is getting chased around.  Richardson gets in close and scores nicely to the body, but Hill counters and then turns him around and attacks back.  Hill is finding his range, and lands one flush power shot that resounds through the now mostly empty arena.  His corner shouts “Where’s your power, Damien?”  Time winds down and the round ends.

Round 2

Richardson comes out with plenty of aggression, and he has a tendency to lead with his head.  Don’t be surprised if there’s a cut before this one is over.  Hill back sup until his back is against the ropes and Richardson finds him there, landing some good shots.  This fight doesn’t have a ton to offer, but both fighters are game.  Richardson follows Hill into a trap and gets countered.  Richardson lands a left-right to Hill’s body.  Richardson continues to pursue, but again Hill counters him and scores.  Richardson has more aggression than is good for him.  And yet, Richardson finally gets the upper hand for a moment and flurries with nearly twenty punches from all angles.  Hill throws the last few punches of the round.

Round 3

Richardson again comes out on the attack, and this time Hill is less effective in countering.  Hill does sneak in a punch here and there, though.  He seems to be at his best when his opponent’s attack peters out.  Richardson pins Hill against the ropes and fires an extended volley, but Hill escapes and heads for the center of the ring.  As these guys use up their legs, they become less mobile and the fight becomes more entertaining.  Richardson is initiating most of the exchanges, and scoring occasionally.  Hill is doing a fair job of countering in spots, but usually with only one punch.

Round 4

Hill’s corner wants him to know this is the final round.  About 20 seconds in Richardson scores with a body shot, but Hill counters well and may have hurt him.  Richardson comes forward again, and finishes a mostly ineffective combination with a single right.  Richardson is squaring up to his opponent, and it’s leaving him wide open.    Richardson finds Hill against the ropes and both men windmill for a moment.  Now they’re in the center of the ring, and Richardson scores with a single left hook to Hill’s ear.  It rocks Hill but doesn’t visibly hurt him.  There’s another exchange that ends with Hill scoring with a left.  Hill times a Richardson punch and counters well, then presses his advantage as the last seconds tick away.  Richardson survives the round.

Midwest Boxing Outlook: Mid-Winter 2010

Here are some things that I know that I know…

  • Of interest to those who saw Edwin Rodriguez and Aaron Pryor Jr win their fights with James McGirt Jr and Dyah Davis at Fargo’s Scheels Arena on November 13th: Rodriguez and Pryor face each other in a super middleweight bout tonight on ESPN.    Though Pryor (15-2 with 11 kayos) has a pronounced advantage in height and reach, those seem to be his only advantages over Rodriguez (17-0 with 13 kayos), a hot prospect approaching contender status, who will be widely favored.  The Friday Night Fights broadcast will originate from beautiful Key West, Florida.  Peter Manfredo -vs- Daniel Edouard tops the bill and the broadcast.
  • Joey Abell, who faces Chris “The Nightmare” Arreola in California on January 28th, will be accompanied on the road by fellow ACR Gym denizen Jon Schmidt (10-1 with 6 kayos).  Schmidt is slated to face former Olympian Shawn Estrada (10-1 with 9 kayos) of East Los Angeles in a six-rounder.
  • Seconds Out Promotions brings us an IBF light heavyweight title eliminator on February 4th.  The fight will feature Otis Griffin and Yusuf Mack.  At this time the Fistic Mystic has no information on the undercard.
    Emily Klinefelter (9-0 with 3 KOs)

    Emily Klinefelter (9-0 with 3 KOs)

  • On February 5th in Iowa City, Adam Pollack of Win by KO Promotions will present a mixed show with amateur Muay Thai (4-5 bouts) and professional boxing (6-8 bouts) at the Johnson County fairgrounds.  The show will be headlined, as usual, by one of the Klinefelter girls.  The one sure thing on the card so far is the main event, which will pit super bantamweight Emily Klinefelter (9-0 with 3 kayos) against Christina Ruiz (5-3 with 3 kayos).  Tickets are available at Sushi Kicchin at the Old Capital Mall or by calling Win by KO Promotions at 319-338-1633.  The fairgrounds is located at 4261 Oak Crest Hill Road in scenic Iowa City.
  • Hortons Boxing presents a once-postponed show in Duluth on February 12th.  It can be confirmed that the following fights have been inked: RJ Laase -vs- Hector Orozco (rematch), Al Sands -vs- Zach Ziegler, and Aaron Green -vs- Jordan Ziegler.  Gary Eyer hasn’t been matched yet but is still expected to appear on the card.
  • Philip Adyaka is now managed by Scott Tolzmann.  It was originally believed that Adyaka would fight Gary Eyer in Duluth on February 12th, but Adyaka is now penciled in opposite Jonathan Perez for the 26th of February at Grand Casino Hinckley.  As of Thursday night the Hinckley show was reportedly 99% confirmed.  The headlining bout there is the much-anticipated rematch of Caleb Truax-Phil Williams, which ended in a surprising Split Draw back in April of 2010.  In that fight Truax had swept the early rounds but Williams took that last couple of rounds with effective power punching – it looked like a decisive points win for Truax until the scores were read, but in the end it’s the scorecards that do the deciding.  Supporting that bout is an interesting mix of fighters from Seconds Out Promotions and Midwest Sports Council (MSC).  Could this signal an era of greater cooperation between the two promotions?  That’s an eventuality that this writer has persistently hoped for, and in print.

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.

Q&A – Andy Kolle

Junior middleweight Andy Kolle recently answered a few questions for the Fistic Mystic.

Fistic Mystic: You’re coming off of a second consecutive first-round TKO win, with both of them coming on the undercards of ShoBox events.   I reported from that event that your opponent, Francisco Osorio, hit you with some good shots and forced you to walk through his power to put him away. Please give the readers your take on how that fight unfolded.

Andy Kolle: In the fight with Osorio, I came out and tried to establish my jab and make this fight more about boxing rather than going right after him.  The jab made him move into my power hand and I dropped him with a left hand that kinda hit him in the back of the head (completely unintentional, but he turned his head as I threw the punch and it was too late).  When he got up I think he was a little pissed because he came at me swinging.  During this time he got me up on the ropes but I was able to slip and block most of his shots. A few got through but I got off the ropes asap.  When I got back to the center of the ring he came right at me again, however; I wasn’t gonna let him get me out of my game and I just picked and countered his shots and landed a big left hook right on the chin and that was it!

Osorio crumbled in just under a round.

Osorio crumbled in just under a round.

Fistic Mystic: Have you or your team gotten any feedback from network people or boxing industry people following those consecutive one-round wins?

Andy Kolle: Yeah, the phone has been ringing off the hook but all the fights are at 160 and I am committed to staying at 154 as long as I can.  The showtime people seemed interested but at the same time they don’t make the fights.  But I am confident that something will come together early next year.

Fistic Mystic: It must have been special fighting so close to to your home town of Fergus Falls for the first time in several years.

Andy Kolle: It was great! The timing of the event was not the best considering it was opening deer hunting in Minnesota.  That might not matter in other states, but in Minnesota that is a big weekend!  The fans in that area have always been so gracious to me and it is a great feeling.

Fistic Mystic: You told me nearly three years ago that you were open to fighting in the junior middleweight class. Now you’ve officially made the move down from 160 pounds to 154. That doesn’t seem to bode well for you to get matched with Caleb Truax [middleweight Truax, from Osseo, is 16-0-1 with 10 kayos].   Do you have any desire or intent to defend your Minnesota middleweight title again?  If you didn’t plan to defend it would you announce that you’re vacating it?

Andy Kolle: Honestly winning that title was huge for me because of how I earned it. Titles are titles and they are a great thing to have, but they are not the only thing in boxing. I think the best thing for me and my career is to stay at 154 pounds and keep trying to push out onto the national scene. I don’t think that any MN vs MN fight is gonna further my career in the national direction.

Fistic Mystic: There have been rumors that you’ve turned down offers to fight some name guys at middleweight. If true, those rumors seem to show that you’re serious about your new weight class. Are the rumors true?

Andy Kolle: The rumors are very true, but like I said, we have made a decision to campaign at 154 and plan to stick with it.

Fistic Mystic: Do you still see any circumstance where you could end up fighting Truax or any other middleweight?

Andy Kolle: Anything is possible in this sport.  Caleb has his own thing going and it seems to be working for him.  In-state rivals are great but there is a bigger picture to this boxing world, and my ultimate goal is beyond Minnesota.

Fistic Mystic: Looking around your home state of Minnesota, there are a bunch of good, young junior middleweights coming up.  I’m talking about guys like Dave Peterson (12-0), Cerresso Fort (10-0), Jon Schmidt (10-1), Javontae Starks (4-0), and Corey Rodriguez (5-1-2).  It’s beginning to look like Minnesota’s most loaded weight class.  What do you know about these guys; have you worked out or sparred with any of them?

Andy Kolle: I have seen most of those guys fight, and I would be willing to fight anybody my team puts in front of me. The only one I have been in the ring with is Cerresso, and that was as an amateur when we fought twice.

Fistic Mystic: On a completely different subject, we’ve never talked about your experience sparring Antonio Margarito a few years ago, before the controversy with his hand-wraps and his subsequent losses to Shane Mosley and Manny Pacquiao.  When you were in Margarito’s camp, did you ever see or hear (or feel) anything that made you think twice about whether Margo and his team were bending the rules of boxing?

Andy Kolle: Naw man, Antonio and his team was great to us, and I still stay in contact with all those guys.  I don’t know about what they were doing in fights but when we were sparring his power never bothered me at all.  It was his relentless pressure that made him a tough guy to work with.  It was a great experience and it helped make me the fighter I am today, and I thank the whole team for bringing me in to help!

Fistic Mystic: I understand that Horton’s Gym is presenting an evening of boxing on January 8th in Duluth.  Is it possible that you’ll fight on that card?

Andy Kolle: Like I said before, anything is possible and if we can’t get something planned before that, then that is a possibility I would be open to in order stay active.

Fistic Mystic: Thanks again for sharing your thoughts. I’ve always appreciated that you’re one of the most available and friendly guys in boxing in the Upper Midwest.  I think it will only help you more and more if you continue to take that approach as your career progresses.

Andy Kolle: No problem!  A big thank you to you and all the other boxing writers that keep the fans informed!