Brewer fights for championship, respect
By Lyle Fitzsimmons,
Contributing Boxing Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Oh sure, Grady Brewer knows the score.
Or to be more precise, all of them.
He knows he's 38 years old, which disqualifies him from legitimate title consideration in the eyes of some. He knows he's got double-digit losses on his record, which causes others to ignore the circumstances -- not to mention the 25 wins -- that share space on his resume.
And he knows his first shot at a world championship -- the IBO's title at 154 pounds -- is being largely ignored because, well -- it's the IBO.
But that doesn't mean he has to acknowledge the slights.
"People need to start realizing that I know how to fight," said Brewer, who'll meet former prospect Anthony Thompson at the Pala (Calif.) Casino Spa & Resort on Aug. 22.
"A lot of guys just go out there and try to get by on their natural talent, but I've learned how to use my mind in a fight and that gives me an advantage over someone with just pure talent."
It's been a long struggle for Grady Brewer to even gain a shot at respectability.
Brewer has faced all sorts of talent since turning pro in 1999, including reigning middleweight titlist Kelly Pavlik, ex-160-pound kingpin Jermain Taylor and recent title challengers and/or top contenders Peter Manfredo Jr., Marco Antonio Rubio, Jose Luis Zertuche and Sechew Powell.
Problem is, with losses in all six of those fights -- and five others -- it's been a long struggle for Brewer to even gain a shot at respectability, let alone actually achieve it.
"Every time I'd fight one of these guys, like a Jermain Taylor, he'd come to me with five or so weeks of preparation," Brewer said. "And for Taylor, that was his longest fight at that point, eight rounds. So I was in the fights with these guys. I might not have gotten the decisions, but I was in the fights.
"And these were guys that didn't have to work side jobs and put in 10 hours right before the fight like I was doing. I just knew that if I kept going, God would get me through."
The tide began turning for the Lawton, Okla. resident with his participation in season two of "The Contender" series on ESPN, which ended with him defeating former 130-pound world title claimant Steve Forbes by split 10-round decision for the show's championship.
A two-year stretch of injury inactivity followed, but Brewer returned in 2008 and has won three straight fights, including an IBO title-eliminator against fellow Contender alumnus Cornelius Bundrage.
He was originally scheduled to meet Russian-born slugger Zaurbek Baysangurov in the IBO championship match, but Baysangurov was scrubbed after he "was not responsive to communication from the promoter," according to IBO President Ed Levine.
Into the vacancy stepped Thompson, whom Brewer stopped in three rounds back in 2004 -- when Thompson was a pristine 15-0 and Brewer a supposedly less- threatening 15-8.
Thompson is 9-2 since the loss, including a controversial defeat last August against Ishmail Arvin -- who won when their fight was stopped on cuts at the end of the sixth round.
Brewer is 9-3.
"Anthony Thompson is No. 18 in our computer rankings and got a raw deal in his fight in Washington D.C.," Levine said. "The local commission would not reverse his loss even though subsequent review of the video clearly showed his (eye) injury was caused by a head butt. Had it gone to the cards he would have won that fight and moved up in the ratings.
"Grady Brewer's record is not indicative of his stature. His losses took place some time ago and since that time he has strung together many consecutive wins, including 'The Contender' series and a win in an IBO eliminator against Cornelius Bundrage. Bundrage, you may note, is now subjectively rated in the IBF at No. 2 and Grady Brewer at No. 13."
Additionally, Thompson is ranked No. 17 by the WBC.
Brewer is unranked by any other major sanctioning body.
"I'm very familiar with the IBO. I know a lot of guys have held their belts. Tarver. Klitschko. Hatton. And the guy who just beat him, Manny Pacquiao," he said. "They're all guys who've put on the IBO belts and they're considered world champions. It's a sanctioned belt.
"So if I win the fight, yes, I'll definitely be a world champion. I feel over 36 fights it's recognition that is overdue, so I'll definitely defend the belt and put it up against any of the other belts."
Andy Pierce and Edward Halligan will handle the bulk of Brewer's training camp duties, though he did mention a possible alliance with former female world champion Ann Wolfe later in the process.
Wolfe, whos not fought since 2006, trains unbeaten 154-pound prospect James Kirkland.
But regardless of the lead voice in camp and the corner, Brewer said the prep time will be an asset.
"Anthony Thompson is not a worry to me," he said. "I'm actually going to have more preparation time for this fight than I've ever had in my career, so I'm liking it. I almost don't know what to do with myself, but I want to make sure and take full advantage.
"I've been fighting guys my whole career who were able to do all sorts of things in preparation that I wasn't able to do, so I'm looking forward to it and to how confident it'll make me feel in the ring."
And as for a career finish line, don't expect it anytime soon.
"I don't really feel that I have to do this. I want to. I feel like I have a lot to prove to the world and a lot of money that's out there for me to make," Brewer said. "The only one who can really answer the question for me is God, so I'll just go until I can't go no more.
"And I don't know when that day will be. It might be when I'm 61."
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This week's title fight-schedule:
SATURDAY IBF bantamweight title - Sunrise, Fla. Joseph Agbeko (champion) vs. Vic Darchinyan (unranked) Agbeko (26-1, 22 KO): Second title defense; Unbeaten since May 2004 (5-0) Darchinyan (32-1-1, 26 KO): IBF champion at 115 pounds; Won 11 of 12 title fights
FitzHitz says: Darchinyan in 9 NOTE: Live fight-night updates from the BankAtlantic Center at twitter.com/fitzbitz.
IBF cruiserweight title - Newark, N.J. Tomasz Adamek (champion) vs. Bobby Gunn (No. 15 contender) Adamek (37-1, 25 KO): Second title defense; Won six of seven title fights Gunn (21-3-1, 18 KO): Lost lone career title fight (KO 1); Three-fight KO win steak
FitzHitz says: Adamek in 4
IBF featherweight title - Tuxtla Gutierrez, Mexico Cristobal Cruz (champion) vs. Jorge Solis (No. 1 contender) Cruz (38-11-1, 23 KO): Second title defense; Unbeaten in three title fights (3-0) Solis (37-1-2, 27 KO): Defeated Cruz by decision in 2003; Unbeaten in Mexico (28-0-1)
FitzHitz says: Solis by decision
Vacant IBO bantamweight title - Kempton Park, South Africa Eric Barcelona (No. 23 contender) vs. Simpiwe Vetyeka (No. 43 contender) Barcelona (48-15-4, 18 KO): Lost two previous IBO title fights; Five-fight win streak Vetyeka (20-1, 12 KO): Lost WBC title fight in 2007; Unbeaten in South Africa (20-0)
FitzHitz says: Vetyeka by decision
Vacant IBO welterweight title - Kempton Park, South Africa Lovemore N'dou (No. 32 contender) vs. Phillip N'dou (unranked) L. N'dou (46-11-1, 31 KO): Former IBF champion at 140 pounds; Lost three of last four fights P. N'dou (32-3, 31 KO): Ranked No. 51 at 140 pounds; Second fight after five- year layoff
FitzHitz says: L. N'dou by decision
WBA middleweight title - Nuerburg, Germany Felix Sturm (champion) vs. Khoren Gevor (No. 2 contender) Sturm (32-2-1, 14 KO): Seventh title defense of third reign; Nine wins in 12 title fights (9-2-1) Gevor (30-3, 16 KO): Lost IBF title fight in 2007; Reigning European champion at 160
FitzHitz says: Sturm by decision
TUESDAY WBA minimumweight title - Kobe, Japan Roman Gonzalez (champion) vs. Katsunari Takayama (No. 1 contender) Gonzalez (23-0, 20 KO): Second title defense; Fourth fight in Japan (3-0, 2 KO) Takayama (23-3, 9 KO): Former WBC champion; Lost two of three career title fights
FitzHitz says: Gonzalez in 7
WBC bantamweight title - Kobe, Japan Hozumi Hasegawa (champion) vs. Nestor Rocha (No. 4 contender) Hasegawa (26-2, 10 KO): Ninth title defense; Unbeaten since 2001 (23-0) Rocha (21-1, 7 KO): First career title fight; Four-fight win streak since 2007
FitzHitz says: Hasegawa by decision
WBC featherweight title - Tokyo, Japan Takahiro Aoh (champion) vs. Elio Rojas (No. 1 contender) Aoh (17-1-1, 8 KO): First title defense; One win since 2007 (1-1-1) Rojas (20-1, 13 KO): First career title fight; First fight outside North America
FitzHitz says: Rojas by decision
Last week's pick: 0-1
Overall picks record: 104-39 (73 percent)
Lyle Fitzsimmons is an award-winning 20-year sports journalist, a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and a frequent contributor to Stone Cold Sports on the MVN Network (stonecoldsports.com) and several sports radio talk shows throughout the U.S. E-mail him at email@example.com or follow him at twitter.com/fitzbitz.