BEST BOXER (1999)
When the 106-pound Grigsby captured the vacant IBF junior flyweight title in December, the St. Paul native also became the first Minnesotan to win an internationally recognized belt since World War I, when St. Paul's Mike "The Harp" O'Dowd held the middleweight crown. That alone would certainly put Grigsby in the running as the state's best boxer. Then, this past March, Grigsby supplied the cherry on top, as he successfully defended his title at the University of Minnesota. It was the first championship bout held in the state since Larry Holmes KO'd heavyweight contender (and Minnesota native son) Scott LeDoux back in 1980. Grigsby's title defense--a 12-round unanimous decision--may have disappointed some fans. His opponent--an obscure Filipino, Carmel Caceres--was brought in at the last minute because a more highly regarded fighter had visa troubles in Thailand (at least according to promoter Don King). The 29-year-old Grigsby, a counterpuncher, still displayed plenty of ring mastery, as he flecked away at the cautious Caceres with a stiff jab. And despite an injured hand, Grigsby showed flashes of power, too, dropping Caceres in the 12th round with a rugged body shot. A former Golden Gloves champ, Grigsby has followed a wobbly, but, in the fight world, not unusual career trajectory: signs of early promise, an extended layoff, scraps with the law, beefs with managers, and, in the end, an impressive return to the ring. Oh, did we mention that he has sustained just a single loss as a pro? With a stable management team and money in the bank ($55,000 from the February bout), Grigsby looks to remain on the scene for a good long spell--a welcome bit of good news for a Twin Cities boxing community still reeling from the death of "Jumping" Johnny Montantes, the popular St. Paul lightweight who suffered a fatal brain injury in a Vegas fight two years ago.