By Mitch Abramson
Grady Brewer must have felt it was Déjà vu all over again.
In a career that started 12 years ago with big wins followed by losses, many of them on short notice, the one reliable facet of his career has been his ability to get fights against young, undefeated prospects.
“I kind of just keep finding myself in those situations,” Brewer says with a chuckle. “It really is a surprise that I keep getting picked.”
He was surprised again nearly three weeks ago when he got called out yet again.
The former U. S. Olympian, Demetrius Andrade was looking for an opponent after the main event fell out of a fight card in Hammond, Indiana scheduled for Aug. 19 at the Horseshoe Casino. His promoters mentioned the possibility of fighting Brewer, and Andrade jumped at the chance.
For the 40-year-old Brewer, who was coming off perhaps the biggest win of his career- a fourth-round stoppage of previously undefeated Fernando Guerrero- it was a no-brainer. He wanted the fight too, thinking a win would get him closer to that elusive world title shot he’s been seeking.
But he was also a little confused as to why Andrade wanted the 10-round junior middleweight fight, as well.
Why would any young fighter want to fight Grady Brewer?
“I guess because I’m older they think they can take advantage of me and make a name off beating me,” Brewer says. “They think I’m vulnerable because I have 12 losses.”
Many have tried, only to walk away disappointed. Brewer (28-12, 16 knockouts) has made a cottage industry of beating young, undefeated fighters. Since turning pro in 1999, Brewer has faced and beaten six undefeated boxers, knocking out four of them.
Anthony Thompson was once a mesmerizing talent before Brewer stopped him in three; the same happened to Guerrero, 21-0 at the time; it almost happened to Sechew Powell, who was hit so hard by Brewer in the fifth round, he went back to the corner apparently not knowing he had just touched the canvas, judging by his reaction in his corner. Powell escaped with a split decision victory, but Cornelius Bundrage, the current IBF junior middleweight champion, wasn’t so lucky, losing a split decision to Brewer in 2008. Now, the soft-spoken yet confident Brewer is hoping to add Andrade to that star-studded list.
“He’s definitely going to feel my power, my man strength,” Brewer says. “I’m going to hit him hard. I think he’s been in with soft opposition and we’re going to find out if he’s ready to take that next step. He hasn’t faced the kind of pressure that I’m going to put on him. I don’t think the fight is going to go the distance. I’m hoping I can stop him in four to five to six rounds.”
Joe DeGuardia, who co-promotes Andrade with Artie Pelullo admitted in a very candid interview that facing Brewer is a risk. In a perfect world, DeGaurdia said he might have taken a more cautious approach and chosen a safer opponent given the money that has been invested and the stakes involved in this fight. It’s the first time that DeGuardia has ever faced Brewer as a promoter, and he’s a bit leery, given Brewer’s track record in these situations.
“I would have liked for him to have gotten a few more fights under his belt,” DeGuardia says. “But the world doesn’t always work like that. This decision [to face Brewer] has a lot of positives and negatives. If he wins, it looks great on his record and everyone realizes he’s a Top-10 fighter. But a loss would be a major setback.”
DeGuardia said it was Andrade’s decision to face Brewer, that the 13-0 fighter wanted the chance to prove himself against a fighter of his stature. Pelullo, who believes that Andrade is ready to have a breakout performance, also acknowledged the risks involved.
But it was the right fight to make at this time, he believes, and Pelullo thinks that giving Andrade such a stiff test will quiet the criticism that's been levied about the caliber of Andrade’s opponents. Andrade didn’t return a message seeking comment.
“After the fight, we’re either going to be looked at as geniuses or it’s going to be that we made a big mistake,” Pelullo says. “But I think this is the right fight for him at the right time, and if he loses, it’s not a career-ending fight. I’m not a big believer that one loss can make or break your career. You can come right back and still be champion. But the kid is pumped. He wants this fight. He called me just to tell me that he appreciated that we got him this fight. He’s going to show the world what he’s made of.”
Brewer, who has never had a longtime manager, promoter or trainer in his career, is also pumped. He believes a win on the 19th brings him a step closer to that title shot he’s been craving. It’s hard to believe that Brewer, given that he’s faced fighters the likes of Jermain Taylor and Kelly Pavlik has never fought for a world title. but Brewer believes he’s gotten better with time. He no longer works 12-hour shifts at Goodyear Tires like he did for most of his career. He stopped after he won the Contender series in 2006. Now, he gets to concentrate fully on boxing.
“This is a good opportunity for me,” he says. “I feel that I’m one fight away. I’m close.”
Mitch Abramson covers boxing for the New York Daily News and BoxingScene.com.