"STEEL" WILL'S COMEBACK
By: Ramon Hough
“Steel” Will Grigsby is no stranger to making history.
In 1998, “Steel” Will Grigsby (17-2-1, 7 KO’s) became
the first Minnesota fighter since right after World War I to win a world
title belt. His title-winning fight was also the first time a Minnesota
boxer had even fought for a title since Scott LeDoux (knocked out in the
7th round) lost to Larry Holmes for the heavyweight title in 1980.
This Saturday May 14th, after spending more than one year in prison and
a total of two and a half years away from the ring, Grigsby will be looking
to add his name to an elite group of fighters who have won multiple world
titles in the smaller weights, a group that includes the great Ricardo
“Finito” Lopez and four-time world champion Michael Carbajal.
Ironically, Grigsby suffered his only career defeats at the hands of Lopez
The title fight pits Grigsby of St. Paul against Jose Victor Burgos (36-13-3,
21 KO’s) of Mexico for the IBF Light Flyweight title (108) on the
undercard of the Felix Trinidad/Winky Wright pay-per-view fight card.
Grigsby, whose legal issues have included arrests for dog-fighting and
domestic assault, actually would have won his second world title five
years ago when he defeated Nelson Dieppa via unanimous decision. But the
fight was later ruled a no-contest and Grigsby’s title was stripped
because he tested positive for using marijuana.
Grigsby, who has been training in Florida since March 21st spoke to Fightnews
about his upcoming fight, his past and why he came back from his latest
Here is Grigsby in his own words:
This will only be your third fight since coming back from a two-and-a-half
year layoff. How did this title fight come together so fast?
I knew once I had a couple of fights that I’d be fighting for the
title again. It was just a matter of time and getting the rust off. I
knew that once I got out of prison that Don (King) was going to get me
another shot. I just had to get ready and get the rust off. The rust is
gone. You’re going to see a new and improved Will Grigsby on Saturday,
How is training going?
Perfect. I boxed 12 rounds today. I'm boxing 12 rounds with two or three
different sparring partners. I've been at weight for (awhile) now. Everything
is going perfect. I'm running six to 10 miles a day.
What do you know about Burgos?
I know that he's got a lot of fights (had a draw with Rosendo Alvarez).
He's a good fighter. He used to be a southpaw, but he converted to a right-handed
fighter. Mainly, a hooker from what I see. I think I'm an all-around better
boxer than he is. I believe I got more power than he's got. He's more
of a one-dimensional fighter. I've watched three different fights and
in each fight, he does the same thing.
What is your game plan for Burgos?
I don't have too much of a game plan. My game plan is to win by any means
necessary. I'm not going to try and get in a war with him. I'm going to
try and outbox him and take it to the later rounds. I see that he (tires)
out in the later rounds. In between rounds six and 11, he's a (tired)
fighter. Hopefully, in those rounds, I can put something on him and stop
Do you have any concerns being that you’re fighting for
a world title in only your third fight back? Are you surprised that you
have a title shot in your third fight back…after the layoff?
I was champion before I went in, as far as I'm concerned. This won't be
the first time I took (time) off. In 17 years, I probably only have 20
fights. At one time I took four-and-a-half years off, came back and won
the title. I think the layoff actually has done me good. Most of the guys
in our weight die out early because we throw so many punches and get hit
so much. A lot of the fighters, nowadays, at my weight have about 40 or
50 fights and a lot of them have been through wars and have been hit a
lot. I've only been in one physical war against Javier Cintron (decision
win) and one mental war with Ricardo Lopez (decision loss). I believe
that I'm a lot fresher. I believe the time off has done my body good.
In regards to your two previous fights, what has it been like
being in the ring again?
Of course, I was rusty coming off the layoff. My first fight back went
kind of quick because I'm a lot stronger than I was before I went to prison.
(In) the second fight, we went eight rounds and I kind of dominated the
fight. Really, it's mainly a mental thing and I believe that I'm a strong-minded
person. I don't think it really affected me too much being out of the
ring. The main thing was getting the sparring…that is one reason
I came down here (Florida) was to get sparring with little guys. There
are a lot of top-notch little guys down here and that really has prepared
me for this fight.
You're a former world champion. Your only defeats came to Lopez
and Carbajal, which came in only your second pro fight. Do you think that
you are or can become the same fighter that you once were?
I believe that I'm a better fighter now than I was then. I'm stronger
mentally. I'm healthier. I ain't drinking or smoking marijuana. I'm a
totally different person now. My mind is set on one thing and that's being
a champion for the third time.
Why did you decide to come back?
When I went to prison, I was actually training for a fight. I came home
for a couple weeks and that's when I got into trouble. I was actually
training to fight for the title again in December. I went to prison in
November. When I was in prison, all I did was train 'cause I knew when
I got out, I was going to fight again. I just basically took the year
and a half in prison and put it straight through training. I ran every
day. I lifted weights every day. I knew that I had the right promoter
and trainer to get there.
You're 35 years old and you were away form the sport for a few
years. What makes you think you can be a world champion again?
My ability speaks for itself. I don't have to think it...people see it.
Even before I went into prison, I never the lost in the ring. I lost it
taking a UA. To me, I was still champion.
You won your titles at 108, but since you've been back, you've
been fighting at 115. Have you had trouble making the 108-pound limit
for this fight?
The only reason I took the fights at 115 was because it’s harder
to get fights at 108. If you look at my record, sometimes I took fights
at 115 or 116, but I only weighed 110 or 109. That is one reason I don't
have a lot of knockouts is because I fought above my weight a lot. But
usually when I fight at 108, it usually ends in a knockout.
You fought under Don King. Are you back with Don King?
I’ll be with Don King until it’s over. There is only one promoter
who can get me where I want to be and that is him. A lot of other people
don’t feel that way, but I’m a three-time world champion dealing
with Don King. He believed in me and trusted in me. He waited on me to
get out of prison. He stuck with me.
Can you talk about how it felt when you became a world champion?
It was one of the greatest feelings of my life, besides my (two) kids
being born. It’s a feeling that I want to get back. That’s
why I’m in there is to get that feeling back. It’s hard to
describe. It’s a one-of-a-kind feeling to know that you’re
one of the best in the world at your weight…doing something that
you love. I fulfilled a dream that one in a million people do. A lot of
us have that dream, but (most) of us don’t get there.
What would a win mean to you?
I’m going to win. Not only will it prove to myself that I’m
a great fighter and I’ll probably go down in history in my weight
class. I (also) proved to everybody else who thought I was finished, that
I’m still there. I’m the only person that can stop me from
doing what I do. It’s going to mean a lot to me, standing up there
with that belt, pointing my finger at everybody and saying, “I told
you so.” There are a lot of people who still doubt me and don’t
believe that I can get back there.
You’ve had many problems outside of the ring. Can you comment
I’m a man. I take the good with the bad. I made a mistake. I tested
positive for (smoking) marijuana and I paid the consequences. (Marijuana)
is a deterrent, it’s a downer. Its not an upper, its not like a
steroid or anything. If anything, I’m going to be better than I
was then, being drug-free.
What do you see happening on May 14th?
A win. Everybody keeps asking me if I’m going to knock this guy
out, but I don’t know. I know that he’s been stopped a few
times. He’s lost 13 times. All I have to do is put him in that position
and he’ll quit or he’ll get beat. My thing is to put him into
that position to lose. Whichever (way) I have to win it, I will. If I
have to out-box him, then I’ll outbox him. But if I have to punch
him and hit him, then I’ll punch him and hit him. I got to see what
Any thing you want to add?
I’m looking forward to winning and being champion again…bringing
that belt back to Minnesota. Helping out the up-and-coming fighters from
Minnesota and showing them that it can be done.
Since you came back, you’ve been a road warrior. Will you
be fighting in Minnesota anytime soon?
I believe that after I win the title, I’m going to defend it in
Minnesota. After I win it, I have to defend it in 90 days. We’re
going to try and defend it there.
---Fightnews would like to thank “Steel” Will Grigsby for
taking the time out from training to speak to us---
For Questions or Comments Email Ramon at