Rumble at Robert’s – July 11, 2009
By: Laura Zink
It’s seconds out to showtime. You have a fight venue booked, a working bout list for a pro boxing and MMA show, and PPV purchased for the one of the biggest UFC fights in history ready to stream in after the bouts. Then, week before the fight, the bout list begins to diminish, then the last pro bouts begin to fall through, and at the last minute even the ring docs pull out of the show. So, what do you do? Do you cancel the event? Do you just call it a day and stay in for the evening? Seconds Out promoter Tony Grygelko’s answer to this dilemma was to get in the ring…with the biggest possible gloves he could find.
Courtesy MinnesotaBoxing.com, Jesse Kelley
After almost a four year layoff, “Polish Pride” Tony Grygelko (5-2) stepped into the ring against 6 time Tough Man competitor and professional boxing trainer Tom “That’s What They” Halstad. To the hoots and hollers of family, friends, and fans, Grygelko disrobed as Halstad crawled into the ring on all fours peeking at Grygelko with quick flicks of the neck, prey-like, as if he were…a lizard?
“Yes, I am part lizard,” Halstad said after the bout, “My dad is 25% lizard, and my mom comes from the Amazon jungle, and she was raised by lizards, but wasn’t technically a lizard herself. As you can see, I am human, but I do have attributes that are lizard-like.”
And after rising to his feet, and glaring at Grygelko in the eye, their corners went under the ring and pulled out what must have been 700 ounce gloves. With Grygelko donning the red gloves and Halstad wearing the blue, and the bell dinged, and the two men were called to action as the crowd cried out for their favorite punch: “Uppercut!”
“In round one, it was the roundhouse right hand,” Halstad commented about his most effective punch, “I wound it up, and went over the top. That was a nice punch for me.”
But by round 2, Grygelko moved in with 2 lumbering 1,2 combinations, which sent Halstad back. Grygelko cleaned up with a straight left hand, sending Halstad to the canvas. But not to be outdone, Halstad advanced in round 3, using a hard shove and a right hand to knock Grygelko down.
“I told you you were soft!” one crowd member jeered.
“Shake it off Tone! Shake it off!” another screamed.
And for the remainder of the round, the two men went at it, monster gloves and all, for a comedic, yet surprisingly busy end of the round.
“I believe my most effective move was the Street Fighter 2 Arukin off the rope,” Halsted commented about round three, “I think that was a very effective punch for me. Granted, he had me down in round two, and I give him credit for that. But I got up like a good fighter and had him down in round three. It was a good fight, but I think I got it.”
Courtesy MinnesotaBoxing.com, Jesse Kelley
And in probably the most unlikely of main events, Joey Abell (25-4) took on cutman Jim Maurine…wearing sumo suits. Before Abell could even stand up after crawling into the ring on his belly, Maurine charged in and knocked Abell over with a sideways lunge. Not to be outdone, even in sumo suits, Abell kicked off round one with a torpedo head butt to the chest, knocking Maurine over. Between rounds even the ring card girl got in on the action. Abell grabbed her and accidently knocked her over where she proceeded to laugh as Abell pretended to dry hump her. After the referee led her out of the ring in a theatrical display of mock shame, Abell began to topple Maurine with twirling backwards flops.
“I didn’t want to keep just jumping on him,” Abell explained about his choice of strategy, “that was for the fans. I just kept jumping and twirling. I didn’t even know where I was going to land. I just thought I would jump up and spin, and I would land on him eventually. I was just trying to have fun.”
Round three clearly proved to be the greatest of Abell’s crowd-pleasing moves. As Maurine lay prostrate on his back, Abell leaped into the air and landed what this writer would dubb the biggest flying ass hat ever preformed in the annals of sumo suit wrestling history.
“I wanted to take the wind out of him,” Abell commented, laughing, “not to mention I ripped ass.”
But monster gloves and sumo suits aside, the card also had some very interesting exhibitions.
Starting off the night was an amateur exhibition between a very experienced 12 year old fighter, David Colon, and the most willing of yet-to-be-registered amateurs, Del Robinson. Colon, who began boxing at 6 and since then has fought 38 amateur bouts, took on Lyke’s Gym mate, the 15 year old Robinson. Colon began the bout using slick head movement and sharp counter-punching to keep the older Robinson at bay, showing that he clearly had an experience advantage and boxing reflexes deeply embedded in his young muscle memory. Robinson, to his credit, began to land straight shots in round two, which led to a chase – Robinson moving in and Colon slipping, ducking, and counter-punching until both fighters unleashed with 10 seconds to go in round three, ending the bout by slugfest.
In bout 2, middleweights Jon Schmidt (9-1) and Charles Meier (2-1) duked it out in their second exhibition performance. The crowd was obviously behind Meier from the gate, and Schmidt, who recently returned from a trip to Europe, got razzed by Meier fans with boos and crowd geers which ranged from “Take down the Cardboard Man!” to “Smack him in the tattoos!”. Schmidt was smiling and clearly in good spirits about the whole thing. In round 2, Meier picked up the pace, responding to Schmidt’s hooks to the body with nicely timed head shots and even some uppercuts.
“One of my main focuses tonight was that I was working on reaction punches,” Meier explained after the fight, “If someone goes to my body, I try to give them something in return right off the bat. And I did that consistently tonight. So my main goal, I accomplished. I landed a lot of punches, and one of them was a phenomenal uppercut.”
By round 3, Meier’s cornerman, Halstad, saw that Schmidt was beginning to get gassed in the exchanges and yelled “Amsterdam took its toll!” to which Schmidt again smiled perceptibly through his mouth guard. By round 4, Schmidt began to lean over and Meier capitalized by fighting from the inside, which led both fighters to bang at each other until the bell.
“I think we went toe-to-toe a few times,” Meier said, ‘And I think I did very well.”
Another interesting exhibition was between Jeremy Mc Laurin (4-0) and Ronnie Peterson (2-0). Labeled the “Battle of the Undefeated,” both fighters went into the exhibition like it was a regular pro bout. Peterson, like his older brother Dave, used crafty head movement to slip away, under, and to the side of McLaurin’s head shots. But toward the end of the round, McLaurin had Peterson on the ropes trying to fight his way out of a flurry of punches. In round 2, McLaurin landed a double jab, right hand combo which agitated Peterson, causing him to drop his hands to let McLaurin know that he wasn’t hurt. When McLaurin went in again and began to land shots to the body, Peterson stepped back and pummeled his sides with his gloves as if to say, ‘Made of steel. I can take it all day.’ After landing some shots of his own in round 3, Peterson was again taken to the ropes by Meier who landed countless shots to Peterson’s head and body. Dave Peterson, who was standing in his brother’s corner, shouted, “Get your hands up Ronnie!” But before the round was even over, McLaurin had Peterson caught in the neutral corner, which caused the ref to jump in and separate them for a short breather. After the break, both fighters took to it in the last seconds of the bout giving fans a spectacle of back and forth punches until the bell.
In other highlights, Caleb Truax (12-0) took on Marvin Rodriguez (1-2), where Truax showed fans his slick countering to overhand rights.
“It was a good show,” Truax commented after the bout, “It was all in good fun. Marvin goes to the same gym as I do, so we know each other. We’ve sparred a bunch of times at ACR. We were taking it easy, nothing too serious. I was just trying to pick up his overhand rights and counter it. He throws a lot of overhand rights, so I just tried to stay away from it and counter…worked the jab a little bit, too. That’s basically it.”
In another match, Wilshawn Boxley (5-1) took on Ismail Muwendo (3-0) in a bout which began like an exhibition, but after some uncharacteristic dirty fighting from Muwendo in round 1, took on a bit more of the flavor of a grudge match.
“I don’t know what he had in mind or whatever,” Boxley said after the match, “but he wasn’t fighting like himself. There was something different. I sparred him before and he did a lot better in sparring against me than he did tonight. He was frustrated. He was holding me down and pushing a little bit and it was really disrespectful out there, I thought. That’s why I started getting more aggressive. I was just a professional about it. I timed him, I waited, and I hurt him. If it was 8 ounces, it could have been a knockout.”
“Down the road, I think there is a possible fight…especially after all the disrespecting,” Boxley also commented, “I don’t know what his objective was or what his corner was telling him to do, but he was disrespecting me by doing the dirty fighting. But I think he’s a great fighter. I don’t take anything away from his game. I was kind of upset about the dirtiness…pushing my head down, and holding my head…it was weird. But if he wants to play dirty, we can have a real fight and play ‘Who’s the Boss?’ getting dirty. I’m not a dirty fighter though. ”
Everyone in attendance that night was clearly glad that Grygelko made the decision that he did. And granted, this show surely made him spend some money from the Seconds Out coffers, but to his credit, he treated everyone there to one hell of a party.