Return of the Little Giant: Grigsby to fight for title, again

Last weekend, St. Paul boxer Will Grigsby travelled to St. Louis to take in the Cory Spinks-Roman Karmazin light middleweight title fight. But it wasn't just a pleasure trip for the former four-time junior flyweight belt holder. While in the Gateway City, Grigsby--who holds the distinction of being Minnesota's first boxing champ since World War I--also inked a deal to fight current IBF titlist Ulises Solis. Grigsby has been itching for the bout since January 7, when Solis got the best of him in a 12-round decision at Madison Square Garden.

What are Grigsby's chances? That's hard to say. At 36, Grigsby is is old for a boxer in any division and downright geriatric for someone earning a paycheck in the junior flyweight ranks, where fighters tend to be burn out quickly. That said, Grigsby is a young 36. He hasn't fought half as often as a lot of boxers his age; in fact, he has one fewer pro fights under his belt than the 24-year-old Solis.

Another reason for optimism: Grigsby has defied the expectations before. After first losing his IBF title to the Mexican great Ricard "Finito" Lopez back in 1999, Grigsby struggled through an exceptionally bad patch, both professionally and personally. In 2000, after besting the well-regarded Nelson Dieppa in a WBO title tilt, Grigsby had his belt stripped because of a positive marijuana test. Not long afterwards, his name was plastered in the headlines when he was arrested on dog fighting and terroristic threat charges. And after that, he was landed in prison for an 18-month stretch for firing a gun at his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend.

In other words, Grigsby looked washed up. He wasn't. After his release from prison, he took a couple of quick tune up fights and then got a shot against reigning IBF beltholder Victor Burgos. Fighting at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, he won by way of unanimous decision.

Given this propensity for the comeback, it's no surprise that Grigsby is confident about his imminent rematch with titlist Solis. "I fought him from the outside the first time. This time I'll fight him up close," Grigsby says matter-of-factly. "I'm just going to go in and over power him. I believe if I take the fight to him I'll beat him easy."

Grigsby insists that he plans to retire from the sport after one or two more fights. It's a common refrain among boxers, but Grigsby seems resolute. "I done made enough money at this. I still got my senses, ain't brain dead," he says. "A lot of fighters get caught up in the limelight. I just wanted the championship money. This ain't a sport to do just to do it. It's too dangerous."

He also has plenty of plans for the future. Currently, he work in the shop at Hubbard Broadcasting (the first legitimate job of his life) and he says he wants to enroll in plumbing school. He also speaks hopefully abut his desire to open a gym/youth center in the Summitt-University neighborhood of St. Paul. "When I was in prison, I met a lot of guys whose life was basically over before it even started," he explains. "A lot of these guys were 25, 26 years old and been in the system since they were 11."

No date or venue has been established for the Grigsby-Solis rematch. Grigsby expects it will take place in late September or early October.

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