“Bad” Brad Patraw – Confident and Ready to Go
By: Laura Zink
While watching Antwan “Lil’ Superman” Robertson and Hassan Wassa step into the ring for an exhibition match last October 3rd, I turned around to scan the crowd. In the back corner, leaning against the wall with his arms crossed over a white button-down shirt and bearing a somewhat apathetic look on his face was none other than Robertson’s competition for the Minnesota State Title, “Bad” Brad Patraw. Knowing he would be fighting Robertson for the fourth time in his boxing career, Patraw came by the show solely to see if there were any developments in Robertson or Wassa’s fight game. Evidently, he wasn’t very impressed.
“It was a waste of my money and time to go there,” Patraw commented about attending the fight for the Robertson/Wassa exhibition. “I already knew what was going to happen. I figured I would check them out, and it seemed to me that they weren’t getting no better. I don’t think either one of them are going to come close to beating me. Neither one of them impressed me at all. They look like the same fighters to me than when they first started boxing.”
And what about the knockdown? Robertson did knock down Wassa in the second round. What did Patraw see in that?
“Not much,” Patraw said. “I felt Antwan’s power before, and it didn’t hurt me. I sparred Hassan back in the day when I was an amateur. I was really hurting Hassan. I mean, I didn’t think nothing. I don’t even know if it was a good knock down. But, it didn’t really affect me at all. Antwan don’t hit hard enough to hurt me.”
Just like he was that night at the West Saint Paul Armory, Patraw is feeling confident in his boxing skills, and confident that there is no other bantamweight in Minnesota who can beat him. But, practically, he knows that his first step in proving his bantam supremacy is winning the Minnesota State Title on October 23rd.
“Well I guess we are going to figure out who’s got the belt first,” Patraw explained. “And I am pretty sure it is going to be me, so it don’t matter what all them guys talk about and say they are the best. I mean, when I win, I will obviously be the best. I will have the belt. I think all them guys, they want to fight me because they already know who is the champ right now.”
For Patraw, this rematch is definitely about moving forward. He wants to prove Minnesota fight fans, and eventually to national audiences, that he is worthy of recognition. The Minnesota State Title is only step one.
“Well, basically the title is the reason that I would even take the rematch,” Patraw said about his decision to rematch Robertson. “I mean, I really don’t have nothing else to prove. I beat him in twice in the amateurs and once as a pro. I mean, enough is enough. But then they said, ‘Well, we can fight for the title.’ So yeah we will take it. And then the money is right. We can’t complain about that. So we said, ‘Yeah, we will take that fight’ and…nothing else was happening. We had a fight fall through. We were supposed to fight at Madison Square Garden. I can’t even remember the guy’s name, but he was 8-0 at the time. They ended up turning it down because if I would’ve went out there, I would have beat him, and things would’ve turned in a good direction for me.”
But now the direction is turned towards Robertson again, someone whom he fought twice in the amateurs – the second match fought for an amateur title: the Upper Midwest Golden Gloves. So what was it like fighting Robertson for a title back in the amateurs? How did it all play out then?
“The second time I fought Antwan, I only had a handful of fights at the time, maybe 20,” Patraw explained. “I fought him before that in the Regionals in Rochester. I ended up fighting him because nobody else was in there in that weight. It was like 2 weeks before the Upper Midwest. And Antwan actually happened to be there. John Hoffman asked if we would fight him, and at first we were like, ‘Well why would we want to fight him if we have to fight him in two weeks. That don’t make no sense.’ But John ended up saying, ‘Yeah, we’ll fight him.’ And we beat him.”
And how did Robertson fare when they fought for the Upper Midwest Golden Gloves Title a few weeks later?
“We fought him two weeks later [after the Regionals], and we beat him again,” Patraw explained. “In the second amateur fight he ended up coming out in the first round, the first half of the first round. He tried to bully me around a little bit, but it didn’t work out for him. But that’s why I think he was just running our first pro fight.”
Yet, when Patraw and Robertson met for the first time in the pros the circumstances for the fight proved much more difficult. Not only was this fight going to be Patraw’s first time fighting in the co-main event, he was also coming off of a layoff due to a pretty severe injury.
“I…ended up breaking my hand,” Patraw commented. “I got mad and ended up punching the wall and it was done. I ended up breaking my hand, so I didn’t end up doing anything. I was supposed to be out there running, but I didn’t. I just took it back and I thought about…I could’ve ended up ending my whole career. I was a little bummed out. And it was another time in my life where I was thinking ‘Should I proceed? Should I even go on with this?’ And about two weeks before my cast was coming off, I started out running and getting back into shape. I think right about the time when my hand was healed up and my cast was off, I got offered a fight with Antwan and we took it.”
“I think I trained for about two months with the cast off,” Patraw explained about the effect of his broken hand on his training. “But I don’t think I really used my right hand at all until about a month in. I remember working out a couple of times, every time that I would throw the right hand, it just felt like my bones were going to crumble. It was tough. I even thought of not even taking the fight, but I knew that it was going to heal up. It started not hurting as much when I hit the bags.”
“I was a little nervous about my hand being okay,” Patraw said about his concern over the injury. “In the third round, I thought I broke it actually. Actually every time I threw my right hand it hurt. I mean it hurt. In between each round I would just tell John, ‘I think my hand is broke.’ And he said, ‘Well do you want me to stop it?’ ‘No, I’ll keep going. I am not going to give up this fight over that.’ I fought through it, and then when we finally got the glove off my hand, it was swelled up big time. It was never was broke though. It went down and I could move my hand, so… It hasn’t hurt since.”
But even though he questioned the extent of his hand injury for that fight, one thing Patraw didn’t question was how he feels about having gotten to fight as the co-main event for Minnesota fight fans that night.
“I love fighting in front of Minnesota fans,” Patraw said about fighting on the Bonstante/Kolle Middleweight Title card. “Whenever there is a big fight coming up, they all come out. I knew that it was going to be big, but I don’t think I even knew that I was going to be the co-main event until later on. And when I finally found out, I was like, ‘Wow. I got some big shoes to fill.’ I just trained real hard and I wanted to make a great show. I knew that there was going to be a lot of people there…and there was.”
And now, instead of fighting as the co-main event to a Minnesota State Title match, Partaw is fighting for his own state title in a main event against a fighter whom he won a title against in the amateurs. Patraw, the fighter Jonny Johnson deemed as the “baddest man around” when he trained him as an amateur, is supremely confident about his chances in fighting Robertson for a title again.
“Well, he’s got two options,” Patraw said about his upcoming fight with Robertson. “Option one: to run and make it a boring fight. Option two: to try and stand in the middle of the ring and fight, and it’s gonna be an early night for him. That’s the only way I can see it coming.”
And not to be outdone in the ring, Patraw won’t even be outdone in training for this fight.
“And another thing,” Patraw continued, “I am sparring with the champ. I am sparring with Jason Litzau. There ain’t nobody around here that is going to touch him. So, you already know right then and there. I have been sparring 8 rounds with him. So, we are stepping it up. We have been sparring right now for about a week, so… We got some good rounds in and then after the fight I am gonna help sparring with him for his upcoming fight. Antwan is definitely not gonna show me anything that Jason hasn’t. Jason is a tricky fighter. He is fast and hits hard. I don’t think that Antwan is going to give me any kind of trouble at all.”
So on October 23rd, we will get to see the grand finale of the Patraw/Robertson match-ups at the Shooting Star Casino in Mahnomen. For Robertson, this could be his last chance to try to score a win and a title over Patraw. And for Patraw, this match could be his first step in proving, like Johnny Johnson said in the amateurs, that Patraw is in fact the “Baddest Man Around.”