|Grady Brewer, The Forgotten ‘Contender’
Interview by Ken Hissner (June 2, 2008) Doghouse Boxing
For the past year and a half I have been wondering “whatever happened to the 2006 Contender winner, Grady Brewer?” It’s been a mystery to whomever I have asked in the business. I was able contact him and talk to him in his Lawton, Oklahoma hometown. The miracle of how he was able to overcome injuries to qualify and win out is incredible. Here is what we talked about in a Q&A session.
Ken Hissner: Grady, where have you been hiding?
Grady Brewer: I’ve been here trying to overcome injuries that have prevented me from returning to the ring since winning season two of ‘The Contender’.
KH: I would like to go through your career and tell the people just how many obstacles you have had to overcome. Did you have much amateur experience before turning pro in October of 1999 winning your first 3 fights by first round knockouts?
GB: I had about 50-60 amateur fights. I have always had problems with getting proper training and I have always managed myself. In that third fight I broke my right hand for the first time in February 2000 stopping Stuart Beath (6-2) in St. Louis.
KH: After winning your first four fights you go to Dallas and beat the hometown fighter Marquez Reed (7-0-1) by decision in six rounds. How did you pull that off?
GB: They thought they won the fight and asked for a rematch. He was made to order for me. I took another fight two weeks later instead in Ft. Worth.
KH: I see Jesse Gonzalez (9-0-1) stopped you in the 6th and final round. What happened?
GB: We each had been knocked down about three times in that fight. I took the fight on a couple days notice after gaining ten pounds from my previous fight.
KH: A little over a month later you are back in with Reed.
GB: I stopped him in the 5th round. I figured I wouldn’t get another decision win.
KH: I see you were off for about six months after that fight. How come?
GB: I had a hairline fracture of my right hand from the Beath fight and had my first surgery. I came back and beat Pedro Alvarez (6-0-2) in the first round but hurt my hand again. I was called on Tuesday and took the fight on Friday. I don’t like turning fights down.
KH: Two months later you are back in the ring with a fighter named Kelly Pavlik (8-0) in Wisconsin in a four rounder. How did that come about and did you know anything about the current world champion?
GB: No, I didn’t and when I saw him he sure didn’t look like a fighter. Mark ‘Too Sharp’ Johnson was on top of the card. I had Pavlik cut on the top of his head and was overwhelmed with punches causing the referee to stop the fight in the second round. He was much more determined to win then I was. We rode together after the fight and talked. He was a real down to earth person. I made three grand in that fight.
KH: The following month you are again in Texas fighting Ignacio Garza (4-1-1). I note by your record you fought a lot of fighters with winning records. That is very unusual in today’s business. You stop him in three rounds and three months later are back in McAllen, Texas again fighting Efrain Garcia (15-3-1).
GB: I got knocked down in the third round. I got right up and the ref asked me to walk to him. Instead, I walk around him to get to Garcia and the ref stops the fight. I guess he thought I was out of it not listening to him. I would eventually get a rematch six months later. I knew I could beat him.
KH: You take on Peter Manfredo, Jr. (12-0) in Connecticut at Foxwoods Resort.
GB: I didn’t eat much as usual before the fight. I was usually nervous anyway. I just felt listless throughout and lost an eight round decision.
KH: Two weeks later you are back in with Garcia. What was the difference this time since the last time when he stopped you?
GB: I knew I could beat him because I was faster than him and more focused. I would say 75% of this business is mental. I cut him up, knocked him down. He didn’t want to get up. It was stopped in the 7th round.
KH: Two months later you are in with the Olympian Jermain Taylor (9-0) at the Miccosukee Resort in Florida. You really would fight anyone wouldn’t you?
GB: I had about five weeks notice. I was doing good for about four rounds. He was strong and disciplined. I had a swollen eye by the end of the eight rounds.
KH: Four weeks later you win the Texas State Light Middleweight title stopping Wilmer Mejia (12-1-2) in the second round. You score another knockout and take a fight with Carlos Bojorquez (19-3-6) for the IBA Continental Light Middleweight title in Kenner, Louisiana in a twelve rounder. You had only been fighting six and eight round fights up until then. That was a big jump to take and against a tough fighter who would get a title bout the following year.
GB: I had him down in the first round. I thought I was ahead going into the eleventh but I kept thinking “I have never gone this far before” and got knocked down in that round. When I got up the ref stopped the fight. He must have known I was too fatigued to go on.
KH: You beat Leonard Townsend (37-11-1) by a decision in eight and just eight days later are in with Danny Perez (27-3) who had lost to Antonio Margarito for the WBO title in his previous fight.
GB: I re-broke by hand in the first round. I fought him with one hand.
KH: Three months later you are in with Jose Luis Zertuche (9-1-1) in defense of your Texas title. He stopped you in the fifth. What happened?
GB: I hurt my hand in the second or third round. He stopped me in the fifth. He was a tough, strong puncher.
KH: You’re off for five months and win a majority decision over middleweight Miguel Martin (16-0) in January of 2004. Two of the judges had you ahead by four points.
GB: Oscar De La Hoya was at the fight. I came in heavy at 160.
KH: The following month you take on Top Rank’s Anthony Thompson (15-0) in Las Vegas.
GB: I lost the first two rounds and caught him with an uppercut and dazed him. I caught him with another uppercut and finished him in the third round.
KH: Several fights later you lose back to back fights to Sechew Powell (12-0) by split decision and Marlon Thomas (30-5-1).
GB: Two bad decisions. The Powell fight was on Showtime and I had him down in the fifth round. Thomas was in his hometown of Detroit. I had to knock him out to win.
KH: In your next fight you fight Floyd Trumpet (12-4-2). Was he a musician?
GB: (Laughing) I don’t think so. I tuned him up in seven for the IBA title.
KH: Next was the hard hitting Marco Antonio Rubio (29-2-1) who is scheduled to fight Pavlik in September.
GB: I had taken too many cortisone shots in my left shoulder. I couldn’t throw my left hook that well. It was close for seven rounds. He stopped me in the eighth. In August I had my shoulder operated on to fix a tear. I was told not to fight for a year.
KH: Five months later after the operation you are fighting on the ‘Contender’ show. How could that be?
GB: I prayed a lot. I got called in October. I had tried out in the first season so they wanted to give me another chance. In December at the tryout, I fought southpaw for a round. Ray Leonard and Chris Byrd were there, but neither noticed. I impressed them enough to be chosen. I told my wife, “I can’t do this only throwing three lefts in a round.” I had to take a physical exam by their doctor after that. I could hardly raise my left arm without showing pain and the doctor questioned it. Thank God, I raised it on the second effort and he passed me. I think that is why the following season they put all the fighters through all those different events.
KH: How was Ray Leonard to be around?
GB: I don’t think I fit his picture as The Contender. I was 18-11. He was more or less a front man. Mark Burnett was the producer and Jeff Wall ran the show.
KH: The first fight you had was in January against that big mouth, Vinroy Barrett (21-4) of Jamaica. You won a five round decision.
GB: You noticed he had a big mouth? He was saying I had a big mouth.
KH: Twelve days later you are in with Mike ‘No Joke’ Stewart (39-4-2) who had just stopped Ebo Elder.
GB: I knew he was strong. Ebo had outboxed him, and I did the same.
KH: Just four days later you fight Norberto Bravo (22-10-3). He had just beaten Gary Balletto.
GB: He had me down in the first round. I was determined to win and got the majority decision. He had his whole family there and was a fan favorite.
KH: You got seven months rest before you fight Steve Forbes, the former two time super featherweight champion. He had just beat K-9 Bundrage. He also just gave Oscar De La Hoya all he could handle.
GB: K-9 is a friend of mind. K-9, Ebo and I are Christians. Forbes being a former champion was the favorite for the championship.
KH: In a real good fight you win a split decision to take home the $500,000 prize.
GB: I think I paid my dues. Trainer Tommy Gallagher motivated me. He is the best motivator I have ever seen.
KH: Now let’s get down to why you haven’t fought in 19 months?
GB: I had loose bone bodies in my right knee after the Forbes fight. I have had two operations on that knee here in Oklahoma. My third is scheduled to be done in Texas. I have had knee cartilage implants. It has not helped me yet. It seems like every time I have been scheduled to fight something happens.
KH: Grady, you have fought some really tough opponents throughout your career and earned your time in the spotlight. I only hope you can cash in on it for all you have been through. Please keep me posted on your medical progress. It has been a real pleasure talking with you.
GB: Thank you for the interview and I will get you K-9’s number. You two will enjoy talking to each other.
e-mail Ken at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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