Minnesota Bad Blood

By Cory Rapacz


Minnesota Bad Blood

A look at the undercard

This Friday night at the Target Center in Minneapolis Tony Grygelko’s Seconds Out Promotions presents “Bad Blood”, highlighted by the highly anticipated Minnesota super-fight between Matt “The Predator” Vanda and Anthony “The Bullet” Bonsante.  Even though most fans will be attending this card for the main event, they will also be treated to an undercard featuring some of Minnesota’s brightest young talent. 

Allen Litzau, brother of  better-known Jason Litzau, will be fighting in the chief supporting bout against Elvis Martinez, 10-19-2.  Like Jason, Allen was a very accomplished amateur before moving on to his professional career.  Allen’s boxing skills are superb and he relies on them to carry him in most fights.  Minnesota fight fans are buzzing about a possible showdown between Litzau and rising prospect Wilton Hilario.  Tensions were running high as the two traded words at a press conference to announce this event.  Hilario is 6-0 and is regarded by many fans in Minnesota as our top prospect. He will be fighting former Litzau opponent Juan Polo Perez, 46-44-4. Hilario’s vicious body attack mixed with Litzau’s excellent technical ability will has all the makings of a huge Minnesota fight in the future.  Look for these two to meet this spring if they are both successful on Friday night.

Minnesota’s two most promising heavyweight prospects will also be featured on Friday night.  Rochester’s Rafael Butler will be taking on heavyweight journeyman Louis Monaco in a six-round bout.  Monaco is 15-34-4 but has pulled off a few upsets over the years. Butler was last seen on a national level losing a decision to Jason Gavern on ESPN.  Butler, a former National Golden Gloves champion, will be looking to re-establish himself as a contender in the heavyweight division by adding Monaco to his list of victims during his most recent winning streak.  Butler, along with heavyweight prospect Travis Walker, was one of the heavyweights whose sparring helped convince former WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko to retire instead of facing Hasim Rahman.  Look for the physically gifted Butler to attempt to take his career to the next level in 2007.

“Minnesota Ice” Joey Abell burst onto the heavyweight scene in 2006 by building his record up to an impressive 9-0 (now 9-1) with all wins coming by early knockout.  Abell quickly established himself in Philadelphia by appearing on several cards there.  Abell’s momentum was severely damaged when his fight against Aaron Lyons was stopped in the first round after Lyons landed a combination.  Abell’s management, trainers and Blue Horizon promoter Don Elbaum are all very adamant that the fight was prematurely stopped by an inexperienced referee.  Abell will get his chance to avenge his loss against Lyons in February, but first the power punching heavyweight will have to get by Larry White, 3-2.

Undefeated welterweight Raul “The Matador” Gracia will also be featured in a four round bout on the undercard.  Gracia’s manager and trainer John Hoffman said, “The ‘Matador’ is very excited to box in front of his own home town. He has been training very hard to be the best he can be January 12th at the Target center. Raul looks great. He seems to be peaking at the right time.  He has worked hard at the gym, and never complains; in fact he's always smiling. He has a lot of fun, and is a joy to work with.”  Gracia will be looking to push his record to 7-0.

In maybe the most intriguing fight of the undercard, “KO” Kenny Kost, 10-2, will be moving up in weight to take on late substitute Mike Word, 3-4-3.  Kost, who was last seen on a national level fighting (and badly hurting) Andre Ward on Fox Sports Net, is one of Minnesota’s many talented middleweights and is said to be looking fantastic in the gym.

Final Note:  The Vanda vs. Bonsante fight comes at the perfect time for Minnesota fight fans.  The end of 2006 certainly presented us with a roller coaster of highs and lows.  First we got our state commission back and saw our first major card in two years take place, but that excitement was quickly extinguished when our top three prospects Jason Litzau, Joey Abell and Zach Walters were all KOd within a month of each other.   

As far as the main event goes, as a fan of Minnesota boxing I think you’d have to hope for a Matt Vanda victory.  Bonsante is nearing the end of his career and has been on the national stage quite a bit.  Vanda, on the other hand, has disappeared from the mainstream boxing eye going 1-1 since his career best win over Yory Boy Campas.   In fact, Campas would be a common opponent shared with potential Vanda (or Bonsante) opponent John Duddy.  Vanda getting the Duddy fight would intrigue people much more than Bonsante getting that opportunity.  The world knows what Bonsante has, but few know that Vanda was more impressive vs. Campas than Duddy was, and would prove to be his biggest test to date.   

Cory’s Prediction:  Matt Vanda by Split Decision.