Jump to content

Michael Grant-Big Pretender


Recommended Posts

Once he was said to be the future of heavyweight boxing. He certainly looked the part: at 6'7, with a perfectly chiseled physique most other fighters could only dream of, a reach of 86 inches, punching power and good boxing skills, Michael Grant looked poised to take over the heavyweight throne at the turn of the century. However, a few devastating losses ended that dream for him and the notion that he really could be the future of the division. There was simply something he lacked, be it dedication, focus, or something else. This is the story of Michael Grant.


Born and raised in Chicago August 4 1972, Michael later relocated to Blue Bell, Pennsylvania. He was a natural athlete and as young excelled in basketball, football and baseball. However, poor grades prevented him from getting an athletic scholarship. In 1992, he travelled to Vegas to see the great heavyweight match between Evander Holyfield and Riddick Bowe. He was so thrilled with what he saw that he decided to become a boxer, especially after famous referee Richard Steele suggested it. He had only 12 amateur fights before turning pro in 1994. He was trained by Holyfield's trainer Don Turner. He streamrolled over most of his early opponents and most notably beat almost equally giant Corey Sanders by TKO2 and tough trialhorse Ross Puritty by UD10. He was stepped up in class for the first time against former IBF cruiserweight champion, Alfred "Ice" Cole, who was a good and clever technician. It was June 20 1997 in Atlantic City and Grant dominated the fight, giving Cole a beating so severe he had to retire after round 10 with a bad swelling around his eyes. The fight was for the IBC title, an alphabet one, but the boxing establishment took notice of Grant. He was then matched against the equally giant Cuban amateur star, Jorge Luis Gonzalez, who was once seen as a threat to the throne but had since then been knocked out three times. It was November 7 1997 when Grant made short work of Gonzalez, first dropping him with a great right hook and then knocking him with a barrage punctuated with a right hand, after only 2 minutes of the fight. It was the first and only time Gonzalez would be taken out in one round. He then defended his IBC title for the second time against David Izon, a strong contender who was also the Olympic silver medallist. Izon was no match for the 4-inches taller Grant and was stopped in round 5 after getting hit with more than 20 punches. Grant also stopped Obed Sullivan in 9 in his third defense, May 30 1998.


Grant then vacated the title and set his sights for the NABF one. He was matched for it against Ahmed Abdin, a strong and tough Kurdish-Syrian, January 30 1999. Grant dropped Abdin down twice in round 9 and once in round 10 before the Syrian retired in his corner. He then decisioned Lou Savarese in June, also knocking him down once, before he was given a WBC eliminator fight against the wild card, Andrew Golota, November 20 '99. It was Trump Taj Mahal in Vegas and Golota, 3 inches the shorter man but still strong and crafty, surprisingly put Grant down twice in the opening round, both times with right hands set up by a left jab. It was the first time Grant had been down and he suddenly didn't look as invincible as he had appeared until then. Golota also looked stronger in the next few rounds, but Grant won most of the middle rounds. Both men got a point deducted for low blows. Grant then made a statement in the 10th when he hurt Golota with a huge right hand, and then dropped him with a combination. Golota beat the count and appeared able to continue, but chose not to, thus giving Grant a TKO10 victory. He was now the challenger for Lennox Lewis' WBC and IBF titles. Lewis chose to forfeit his WBA title he had won from Evander Holyfield, rather than fighting John Ruiz. It was the first time ever that a 6'7 guy fought a 6'5 guy for a boxing championship.Their combined weight was almost 500 pounds. It was April 29 2000 at Madison Square Garden and Grant, always a devoutly religious man, told Lewis "God bless!" as they touched gloves. But God could not help him here. Grant opened aggressively and threw a good left hook which slightly rattled Lewis. He pursued Lewis, trying to capitalize on his physical advantages, but Lewis had far more experience from world title and world class fights and he weathered the storm, and then put Grant down with a left uppercut and a right hand. Grant got up on wobbly legs and was put down again at the end of the round with a right hand. However, Lewis holding and hitting went unwarned by the referee and in the second round he put Grant down twice that way before the fight was over. Grant also injured his knee after all the knockdowns. The fight was over at 2:53 and with it Grant's dream of becoming the best heavyweight on the planet. He wept in his trainer's embrace following the devastating defeat.


Because of the knee injury, he was absent from the ring for 15 months. When he returned, it was against Jameel McCline, regarded as a rather beatable opponent for him. McCline was 6'6 and weighed even more than Grant with his huge build. It was July 21 2001 at Caesars Palace and McCline caught Grant by surprise after only 33 seconds when he landed a left hook that made him hit the canvas, injuring his ankle badly in the process. Grant was unable to continue and so, the fight was over after only 43 seconds. After this unfortunate and embarrassing loss, Grant was away from the ring for the rest of the year but came back in March next year, scoring a TKO4 against Reynaldo Minus. He put together a streak of altogether 7 wins, all by TKO, before getting another pivotal fight against the undefeated contender and new hope, Dominick Guinn. The fight was on the undercard of Lennox Lewis-Vitali Klitschko fight, June 7 2003 at Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City. Grant weighed in at 254, while Guinn came in at 218. Grant appeared slow and was rather easily taken apart by the faster and more nimble Guinn, who put him down once in round 3, twice in round 4 and finally once in round 7 to end the fight by TKO. Grant then had a short layoff before coming back in early 2004. He was now far down on the rankings and had to go the long way back. In 2008 he won the WBA NABA USA title on points against Paul Marinaccio. His first significant fight since the Guinn fight was against Tomasz Adamek for the IBF International and WBO NABO belts, August 21 2010. Grant, at 6'7 and 261, clearly outsized the 6'1 1/2 and 217 Adamek, but once again, the smaller man was better for most of the fight, even though Grant had Adamek in trouble in the last round. In the end, Grant lost by the scores of 117-111, 118-111 and 118-110.


Big Michael then scored his last two victories, first knocking out the even taller Tye Fields flat with a right in round 3 and then wearing out and knocking out another former Lewis-victim Frans Botha in 12 rounds. Both fights happened in 2011. It looked like he was on his way back, but any notion of that was dispelled in his next fight against Cameroonian powerhouse Carlos Takam, who stopped him by TKO8 in 2013. Next year he also lost to Lebanese-German contender Manuel Charr by a corner retirement in 5, before taking a break and then returning for the last time on April 22 2017 against Polish Krszysztof Zimnoch; the fight was in Poland and the 45-yearold Grant was easily handled by the 33-yearold Zimnoch, who knocked him out in 2 rounds. Grant is currently inactive and it seems he has retired. His record is 48 wins, 36 by ko, and 7 losses. Grant was a capable fighter in his own right, but he fell short of achieving the ultimate goal. Perhaps due to the dominance of Lennox Lewis and also his injuries, perhaps due to him just not being good enough and also due to getting unlucky in his comeback against McCline, he never quite could get it all together after the Lewis fight.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Re: Michael Grant-Big Pretender


--- I saw Grant up close at a Houston title fight card, and he seemed smaller than his size though he was tall. Dominick Guinn was very impressive looking in spite of being smaller.Funny how size works in street clothes.


Yes...Guinn was smaller but meaner. Another guy who wasted his talent away.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...