Tag Archives: Shobox

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!


Politics and Real Fighting

If you live in the United States and you’re a user of mass-media, you’ve just spent a month or more listening to middle aged men and women say or imply things about each other that they would be afraid to say to each others’ faces.  They call it campaigning, but it’s more like continuous character assassination.

In a boxing ring there is no innuendo and there are no lies.  Often there is taunting, but the taunter engages in that behavior at his or her own peril.

Come on out to the fights at Scheels Arena in Fargo this Friday night to see skilled professionals take their honor and reputation in their own hands.  Given all that you have been subjected to in the last month or so, you owe it to yourself to take advantage of this opportunity for catharsis.

See you there!

Spotlight: Ishe Smith

I usually try to avoid writing in the first person, but as a boxing fan and writer who lives in North Dakota I’ll tell you that I just don’t get to see big names fighting locally.  That’s one reason why this Friday night’s ShoBox event in Fargo is such a big deal for me – I get to see some really good fights within five miles of my own home!  There will be no long drive after the fights end, and I won’t be up until 4am unless I want to be.

Probably the brightest star to shine on Fargo this week will be light middleweight Ishe Smith (21-5 with 9 kayos).  Well known for taking part in a handful of entertaining fights over the course of a ten year prizefighting career (so far) and famous in particular for appearing on The Contender television series back in 2005, Smith recently took the time to talk with me in general terms about the state of his career and specifically about this Friday night’s ShoBox event.

Interviewing a stranger can sometimes be a little uncomfortable, and that’s one reason why interviews often begin with inane chitchat about ridiculous subjects.  Ishe Smith strikes me as an authentically genial person, the kind of person who makes an easy and interesting interview.  No insipid banter required.

To set the stage: Smith has had just 26 fights in a ten year professional career.  That means that he’s averaging 2.6 fights per year, far below the desired level of busyness for a pro boxer.  Smith had fought 14 times in the first four years of his career when he was selected to appear on “The Contender,” the innovative but sadly short-lived television show which pitted a number of promising young studs against each other in hopes of producing one genuine world-class contender.  After winning two bouts and losing one on The Contender, Smith has achieved mixed results in the last five years, winning 5 and losing 4 fights against some very tough competition.

Years of blood, sweat and tears go into producing a record and a career like Ishe Smith’s.  I wondered how Smith feels about the state of his career.  “I’m pretty happy with the team I have in place, starting with my trainer, Eddie Mustafa Muhammad and my promoter, Lou DiBella, and also my adviser Brett Mauren.  This is a stay-busy fight and we’re looking to get back into the mix of things, but I’m pretty happy with the way things are going right now,” said Smith.

But is there a master plan?  And is this business with James Kirkland for real?  “Yeah!” Smith enthused.  “Hopefully it is!  [Promotional agencies] DBE and Golden Boy have done business before, and hopefully this is something that we can make come together and and happen.  It’s a fight that I want, and hopefully a fight that he wants, and definitely a fight that I think the fans will want to see.”

Some professional athletes don’t love their own sport.  Some love to compete but are not fans of the games that they play.  Some even seem to feel trapped in the wrong profession.  Don’t count Smith among these unfortunates.  “I’m a student of the game,” he says.  “So after my fight is over I’m sure I’ll just kick back and enjoy the rest of the evening, watching the other fights and cheering the other fighters on.”  That raises another question – when Smith surveys Friday night’s fight card, are there any fights on the card that intrigue him?  “No, not really,” Smith deadpans, and then laughs.  “Not unless I was fighting them!”

A native of Las Vegas, Smith reminisces easily about his childhood, his introduction to boxing (by his mom), and the frequency of bouts in his hometown.  “Growing up I was a big fan of boxing.  You know, Las Vegas has fights all the time, so it’s kind of special to help bring boxing to some people that are really going to appreciate it, and I’m sure that the people from Fargo are going to turn out and be really enthusiastic about this fight card.”  A timely arrival in Fargo should make it easy for Smith to take in some of the local flavor.  “I’ll be there I think Wednesday or Thursday.  I’m excited.  I’ve been to a lot of places, but Fargo is one of the more, ahh – unique!”

Not content to mind my own business, I asked whether Smith – a guy who only fights one to three times a year – does any work outside of boxing to make ends meet.  “No, I’m a full-time fighter, and a hands-on parent,” he responded proudly.  I coach my son’s football team, I coach soccer, I pretty much do it all.  I’m a mister mom, and thank God, because I wouldn’t trade this time for nothing.”

Notwithstanding such sentiments, the high point of Smith’s boxing career to date has to have been his 2008 defeat of unbeaten 21-0 prospect Pawel Wolak, then 21-0.  But Smith comes to Fargo on a two-fight skid, most recently a painfully close loss to 18-0 Fernando Guerrero in July.  “I feel good though,” Smith protests.  Even though I got a bad decision in my last fight I think that was the best I ever looked.”

I pointed out that Smith is no longer a young boxer.  Does he ever think about the end of his career, I asked, or is he still in it for the long haul?  Smith was silent for just a moment before answering: “I don’t drink…and I don’t smoke…I take good care of myself, and I think that as long as I continue down the right path I can keep fighting for a long time.  I feel the best that I’ve ever felt.”

Upcoming Boxing Event: November 5th Shobox in Fargo ND

First the fights, then the commentary…

Edwin Rodriguez (16-0 with 12 kayos) -vs- James McGirt Jr (22-2-1 with 11 kayos), super middleweights, scheduled for ten rounds

Marcus Johnson (19-0 with 14 kayos) -vs- Kevin Engel (18-3 with 15 kayos), super middleweights, scheduled for 8 rounds

Andy Kolle (22-2 with 16 kayos) -vs- Francisco Ruben Osorio (12-7 with 10 kayo), light middleweights, scheduled for 8 rounds

Aaron Pryor Jr (14-2 with 11 kayos) -vs- Dyah Davis (18-1 with 9 kayos), super middleweights, scheduled for 8 rounds

Ishe Smith (21-5 with 9 kayos) -vs- Alexander Pacheco Quiroz (14-8 with 12 kayos), light middleweights, scheduled for 8 rounds

Antwone Smith (18-2-1 with 10 kayos) -vs- Martinus Clay (13-26-4 with 5 kayos), welterweights, scheduled for 8 rounds

Corey Rodriguez (4-1-2 with 3 kayos) -vs- Nick Runningbear (4-3 with 1 kayo), light middleweights, scheduled for 4 rounds

Jamal James (1-0 with 1 kayo) -vs- Wes Ronchi (debut), welterweights, scheduled for 4 rounds

Top of the Card:

Edwin Rodriguez and Marcus Johnson are the TV attractions here.  Rodriguez faces his toughest opponent yet in sturdy and experienced James McGirt, while Johnson takes his chances against Kevin Engel, who lost to Rodriguez just last April.  Engel is no slouch, but his best wins have come against opponents with records of 6-0 and 7-1.  In what has been billed as a third co-featured bout, Andy Kolle returns to his former adopted hometown to take on Colombia’s Francisco Ruben Osorio.  Osorio’s best win was a TKO of then-15-9 Steve Walker back in 2004; his record since then is 0-5, but he’s considered a credible-enough opponent for Kolle’s first venture into the 154 lb class.

Faint Praise

After consecutive losses, Ishe Smith hopes to make a return to the win column against a man with a deceptively good record.  Alexander Quiroz is 12-7, but ten of his twelve wins have come against fighters making their professional debut and he once lost to a man with a record of 0-10.  To his credit Quiroz also owns a win against 19-6 Ignacio Solar, but he’s been unable to duplicate the feat of beating an opponent with a winning record for the last six years.  Antwone Smith will lay his 18-2 record on the line against 13-26-4 Martinus Clay, but it isn’t a sure thing for Smith.  Clay is remembered in Minnesota for outscoring Matt Vanda in an 8-rounder back in 2006.  Clay isn’t a great fighter, but history shows that you never know what might happen if a tough guy hangs in there.

And Don’t Miss…

Dyah Davis and Aaron Pryor Jr each bring a sharp looking record into the ring when they meet in another super middleweight bout; the career of the winner will get a nice shot in the arm.  (Do careers have arms?)  Corey Rodriguez of Minneapolis is a late replacement for Javontae Starks and will face 4-3 Nick Runningbear, the only North Dakotan currently scheduled to appear on this card.  Last of all, if you haven’t seen him yet (almost no one has), don’t miss the opportunity to see Jamal James fight.  Young James is an unknown who is sure to be a hot prospect within a year, and this is your opportunity to find out why.

The Fistic Mystic says: Buy your tickets today for this show at Scheels Arena (the former UP Center) in Fargo.  It’s cheaper than paying for premium cable.

Willshaun Boxley and Momentum

Momentum is a frequent flyer, and it often travels in disguise.  Those who think they have it are often surprised to find that it has gone, and those who talk the most about it are sometimes the least attuned to it.  Counterintuitive: Sometimes momentum is most easily recognized in hindsight.

Boxley Rushes In

Boxley Rushes In

In the spring of 2009  no fighter in the upper midwest had more momentum than Willshaun Boxley.  The bantamweight from Coon Rapids was sporting a jaunty 5-0 record and had notched his career-best win, a six-round domination of then 12-7 Torrence Daniels, in January.

That victory against Daniels had marked Boxley as a serious professional boxer, drawing rave reviews from eyewitnesses.  Boxley had beaten a veteran with a winning record and he had done so decisively.  Boxley and Daniels “stole the show in a bout reminiscent of a high speed chess match,” wrote Jesse Kelley.  Things were really looking up for the ultraconfident little powerhouse.

That’s when things began to go wrong.  That’s when they usually do.

In June Boxley suffered a tough loss to out-of-towner Thomas Snow in a bout that exposed a weakness: Boxley struggles with dirty, foxy, clever fighters.  Though Snow hardly laid a real lick on Boxley, he pulled off a scorecard victory by reducing the fight to what this writer referred to as a “touching contest.”  Boxley’s next fight was staged outdoors and was rained out after two out of six rounds had been completed.  The result was a no-decision.  Subsequently Boxley seemed to lose his direction along with his momentum, taking on a quick succession of six hot prospects with a combined record of 50-1.  Every single fight went down in the record books as a loss, though some stunk of fishy scoring and one in particular – a UD loss to Canadian Pier Olivier Cote – was booed by the crowd and mocked by broadcasters at ringside.

By the end of the summer of 2010 rumors were swirling that Boxley had retired from professional boxing.  Though he never confirmed the rumor to me, he was enrolled in college at Moorhead State University, far from the big city and his old gym, and he seemed happy to let his situation speak for itself.  It looked like one of the bright young stars of Minnesota boxing had flashed out, leaving behind only a trail of regrets and a 5-7 record.

Now comes word that Boxley has signed to fight again.  Without any fanfare, Boxley’s name was penciled in last week to fight a 2-2 clubfighter from Washington state, Josh Dahl, in Winnipeg.  I asked Boxley how it happened.  “I was offered…to fight on that Showtime [ShoBox] card…against Mickey Bey Jr, but the price that was offered didn’t sound good against the prospect that I would fight.  So I made a few calls to see if there was something else out there.  It didn’t have to be better pay, but it had to make sense for the opponent that I would be facing.  John Hoffman found something [for me].”

What about Boxley’s rumored retirement?  “I didn’t even want another fight for a couple months; I really wanted to surprise everyone by being back on top of my game by training secretly.  Plus right now I’m in school.  [I’m training] at my school’s gym, but…there’s a new gym in Fargo owned by Jesse Barbot that I will start training at for upcoming fights until I move back to the Twin Cities.”

And that’s not all.  Evidently the young man who used to call himself “The Fist of Legend” is interested in helping to train young fighters.  “I’ve always trained, taught, and sparred with the kids and anyone else that need some help in whatever gym I was at, so it will not be a problem to help out at this new gym whenever I’m able to have a set schedule.  It will lift my spirits.”

Visiting with Boxley is always illuminating.  After dealing with the relentlessly self-promoting alter-ego, “The One,” the “Fist of Legend,” it’s easy to forget just how genuine the real Willshaun Boxley is.  In a one-on-one situation Willshaun is unexpectedly unguarded, low-key and sometimes almost even humble.

What does the future hold for the man who a local promoter once called “the second best fighter in Minnesota?” It’s impossible to say.  Like most fighters Boxley is a bit of a contrarian; if you think he should zig most likely he’ll want to zag.  But here’s a pretty safe bet: the old swagger isn’t all gone.  Willshaun Boxley has the skill set and the cocksure attitude to be very Emanuel Augustus-like, if that’s the role he decides to play.  That means that it might not take more than a couple of quick wins to put momentum back into this young man’s corner.

November 5th Shobox Event: News Release

The real guest of honor

The real guest of honor

News Release from Scheels Arena, dated October 12th:

Showtime Network’s ShoBox coming to Scheels Arena Nov. 5

Fargo, N.D. – ShoBox: The New Generation, the critically acclaimed boxing series featured on Showtime Networks, will be live from Scheels Arena on Nov. 5.  Doors will open at 6 p.m. with non-televised fights beginning at 7 p.m.  Tickets, ranging from $20 to $65, will go on sale 11 a.m. Thursday.  Tickets can be purchased at the Scheels Arena box office, online at Ticketmaster.com or by calling (800) 745-3000.

ShoBox, which debuted in 2001, is the inaugural event in the Fargo area for Showtime Networks.  The series airs live on select Friday nights beginning at 10 p.m. CST.

We are very excited to see a nationally televised event finally come to Fargo,” said John Kram, general manager of Scheels Arena.  “Having a world-class event such as ShoBox come to our building is a testament to the level of service and professionalism our venue offers to event promoters.”

Boxing fans in the area can expect to see some of the top prospects in the nation face off in the nationally televised event.

“Fans in Fargo will be witness to some of the best young fighters in the world on Nov. 5,” said Lou DiBella, chief executive officer of DiBella Entertainment, the promoter of record.  “This is a unique opportunity to see young world ranked fighters, such as Marcus Johnson and Edwin Rodriguez,  in the biggest fights of their lives in front of Showtime’s cameras.  Scheels Arena will be the epicenter of the boxing world for one night on Nov. 5.”

The televised main event will feature Edwin “La Bomba” Rodriguez (16-0, 12 KOs) against James McGirt Jr (22-2-1 11 KOs), son of famed trainer and former world champion Buddy McGirt, in a Super Middleweight bout.  Marcus “Too Much” Johnson (19-0, 14 KOs) from Houston, Texas, headlines the opening televised bout in the two-part main event beginning at 10 p.m.  Johnson’s adversary in the second Super Middleweight bout is yet to be determined.  Also featured on the card will be current Minnesota Middleweight Champion and former NDSU student Andy “Kaos” Kolle (22-2 16 KOs) from Fergus Falls, MN in an untelevised feature bout.

The Fistic Mystic says: a posting on matchmaking website Makeafight.com lists other potential fighters for this card: Ishe Smith, Antwone Smith, Mickey Bey Jr, and Brian Mihtar.  More participants will soon be named.

Possible Shobox Date at Grand Casino Hinckley: August 6th

The Fistic Mystic has cofirmed with multiple sources that negotiations for a Shobox event at Grand Casino in Hinckley, Minnesota are in progress.  The planned date is August 6th.

To date the fighters slated to appear on this John Beninati-matched boxing card are Chris Avalos (16-0 with 13 kayos), Lateef Kayode (12-0 with 11 kayos), and Michael Anderson (6-0-1 with 4 kayos).  Local matchmaker Cory Rapacz suggests that the card may also include a measure of local talent.

Stay tuned for further developments, including an official confirmation.