How do you tell someone they're not very good? Minnesota fighters keep coming up short

By Paul Strauss: The best answer is to just point out the facts. Friday night Matt "Predator" Vanda got TKO'd by Marco Antonio Rubio. Phil "The Drill" Williams was TKO'd by Andrezj Fonfara. But, don't stop there. Look further. In Vanda's last six fights, he has lost four times. His claim to fame was his draw against Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. In a rematch, he was soundly defeated. Vanda has also lost to Peter Manfredo, Jr., and Luis Ramon "Yory Boy" Campas (Yes, he's still fighting!). There are several other losses on his record to guys whose names have long since been forgotten, or were never known in the first place.

So. is it pick on Vanda time? Not really. It just so happens that he and Williams fought and lost Friday night. There's no doubt about the willingness and courage of these two, or any of the guys from Minnesota (MN), but it's also a sad fact that for quite some time now, fighters who come out of MN just aren't very good when it comes to the big stage.

Why is that? What's missing? Who knows, but before you offer your opinion, you should examine the facts. In recent times, Minnesota fans have had more than their share of disappointments. Jason "The American Boy" Litzau came closest to bringing some real pride to the state when he scored his great upset win over Celestinio Caballero. Then he got blasted out by Adrien Broner. It was Litzau's second chance at the big time. His first came against Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero, but he was stopped in that fight as well. Joey Abell had his chances, but most recently got blasted out by Chris "The Nightmare" Arreola. Back a while, Andy Kolle was thought to have promise, but then he got blasted out by Paul "The Punisher" Williams. Phil "The Drill" Williams was first exposed by Donovan "Da Bomb" George and now Andrezj Fonfara. Anthony "The Bullet" Bonsante was a celebrity of sorts due to his appearances on The Contender tv show. However, his time in the spotlight or fifteen minutes of fame soon ended with a stretch of four losses in six fights. He got back on the winning side with some weak competition, but then got blasted into retirement by Adonis Stevenson and Andy Kolle. Yes, that's the same Andy Kolle that was a Paul Williams' KO victim. Wilton "Pretty Warrior" Hilario blew his big chance by fighting an incredibly stupid fight against Martin "El Brochas" Honorio, and now he recently lost another one, this time an 8 rounder against (who cares)? . Caleb"Golden" Truax, the current Minnesota middleweight champion, is about the only undefeated fighter left, but his 18-0 record was compiled in his backyard. He barely beat Kolle for the state title. If current boxing analysts from ESPN, Showtime and HBO were forced to check out his record, they wouldn't be impressed. There are many more examples of failed attempts. .

So, what's the problem. What's missing? Before you jump in with your answers, consider a few more things. Could it be that the Northstar State's coaches and trainers aren't paying attention? Don't they realize real changes need to be made? What's that old cliche about the definition of insanity. "It is when you keep doing the same thing, but expect different results". Is it possible that when these individuals, along with their fighters, view film of their fighters' losses, they fail to recognize needed areas for change and just think they need to improve on failed strategies! Are they in denial, blaming repeated embarrassing losses on everything but the real reasons? What are the real reasons? Don't know? One thing is for sure, something has to change or their shrinking fan base will disappear all together.

Admit it now. when odds-makers and boxing fans in general see a MN fighter's name listed in the program for the big stage, they automatically assume he isn't going to be any good. They're not going to rush out and drop a bet on him. That's for sure! Unfortunately, they're usually right. The facts speak for themselves. It's not because the fighters lack courage. They just don't have the skills and real experience necessary to be creditable fighters on the big stage. So. how do they get these needed things necessary to take them to the next level?

I'm sure you will agree, that's a complicated question. It involves many factors, one of which is simply a lack of money. A corporate sponsor or two would be nice. But, it's a Catch 22. Why would any business owner realistically want to invest in a MN fighter? For the fighter, the benefits are obvious. With a good sponsor, he would then have:the ability to train full=time and develope properly. He would have less worry and distractions, proper equipment and needed quality sparring. He also would have added motivation to do well. But, if there haven't been any successes in the state for a long time, why would a business person think anything was going to change? The system doesn't warrant his investment?. As a result, all of Minnesota's recent headliners, with the possible exception of Joey Abell, have had to hold down full time jobs while trying to make a career in professional boxing as well. It's a difficult task.

But, the truth is that's kind of a cop out. Fighters elsewhere manage to deal with it. Consequently, money is not the only problem, and certainly not an insurmountable one. What about the "feeder system", the amateurs? Obviously that is a the major potential talent pool from which the professional level draws. Necessary teaching and experience can be gained at the amateur level if it's run well. Undoubtedly, Minnesota has plenty of dedicated and loyal people trying to provide what is needed, but do they need to reexamine their strategies? If success is the objective, then the answer is yes, because the fact is national amateur champs from MN are far amd few between.

In fairness to the amateurs, the two way street or Catch 22 shows up here too. If there's success at the pro level, it generates interest at the amateur level. It's like a pass rush helping out the secondary, or vice versa. But, nights like this past Friday don't help. The pattern repeats itself over and over again and no improvement is realized. Failure becomes contagious to both levels. Again, if you have the answers, jump in, because apparently no one in the current MN system does. In the meantime, Minnesota fans and boxing fans in general, who on occasion mistakenly let feelings of hope creep into their thoughts continue to be disappointed. They end up wondering why they foolishly thought things would change?. The fighters names change, but the system stays the same, and the sad fact is if some day a good fighter happens to come out of Minnesota, it won't be because of the sytem, it will be inspite of it. To think otherwise is the definition of insanity..

Article posted on 19.12.2011

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