Chicago’s Joshua Greer Jr. slowly works his way back towards his beloved Windy City, looking to impress in Hinckley, MN Friday night on first ESPN co-feature
WBA Middleweight champion Rob “Bravo” Brant returns to his home state Minnesota Friday, for his first title defense against undefeated Khasan Baysangurov set for the Grand Casino in Hinckley. After the fight was announced Brant said, “It’s extra special that my first title defense will be in my home state of Minnesota in front of my fans.”
Mission accomplished for Brant.
But the moment also provides the template for Joshua “Don’t Blink” Greer, Jr., a hard-hitting Chicago native whose singular goal is maintain the momentum he gained by becoming the WBC Continental Americas Bantamweight champion via a TKO7 victory against Daniel Lozano in Corpus Christi, TX back in mid-December. During a recent interview on the Bite Down Boxing podcast, Greer (19-1-1, 11 KOs) revealed his own world champion timetable, “After I get this win, I know this year, whenever Top Rank can do it I want that WBC world title. So I want Nordine Oubaali.”
Greer first splashed onto the major boxing scene in March 2017 after an explosive sixth round KO of James Smith at MGM Grand Detroit unexpectedly became an early favorite for Knockout of The Year. Greer and an early prototype of his now signature ‘Night Night’ pillow made that night’s ESPN Sports Center Top 10.
Earlier in the BDB interview Greer was asked about his thoughts on his maturation as a fighter since the bout with Smith, and the major upgrades fans will see as he enters fight week for his first co-feature opportunity.
“Then I was more of a fighter. Now I’m an overall great boxer, my jab is the difference, my defense is the difference. I don’t even get hit a lot now.”
Also during the interview, the entertaining 24-year old shared his thoughts on his brand of showmanship in contrast to the flamboyance and self-promoting tactics of Adrien Broner in the wake of the Pacquaio-Broner outcome, as well as a brief scouting report on Friday’s opponent Giovanni Escaner (19-3, 12 KOs).
A world title shot is complicated for the Bantamweight division right now, as three of the four titles sit in limbo as plans for the semi-final round of the World Boxing Super Series tournament slowly begin to materialize. Greer is currently ranked by the IBF and WBO, at No. 7 and No. 12, respectively. Ideally, a shot at Oubaali would solve Greer’s problem, but the Frenchman’s next move remains unknown following his Jan. 19 hard-fought UD victory over former world champion Rau’Shee Warren.
With his big moment looming Friday, a relieved Greer looks forward to his Chicago friends, family and supporters being able to find his fight more easily by being able to just tune into ESPN. His Lozano bout streamed on the ESPN+ app, and prior to the bout his phone became a help desk inundated with family and friends who were afraid they were going to miss their opportunity to don’t blink.
Mikaela Mayer (9-0, 4 KOs) completes the triple-header scheduled for ESPN/ESPN Deportes starting at 9 p.m. ET, as she faces Yareli Larios (12-1-1, 3 KOs).
The entire undercard will stream live beginning at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN+ — the new multi-sport, direct-to-consumer subscription streaming service from The Walt Disney Company’s Direct-to-Consumer & International segment in conjunction with ESPN.
Unbeaten light heavyweight prospect Steve “So Cold” Nelson (12-0, 10 KOs), a stablemate of pound-for-pound elite Terence “Bud” Crawford, will battle Felipe Romero (20-16-1, 14 KOs) in an eight-rounder.
Ismail “Sharp Shooter” Muwendo (20-1, 12 KOs) will face Colombian puncher Hevinson Herrera (24-15-1, 18 KOs) in an eight-round lightweight contest.
One the sport’s top young middleweights, Tyler Howard (16-0, 11 KOs), will seek to extend his knockout streak to three versus Cristian Olivas (16-3, 13 KOs).
Lightweight prospect Albert Bell (13-0, 5 KOs) will take on the durable Edward Kakembo (10-6, 3 KOs) in an eight-rounder.
Kevin Cruz (8-1, 5 KOs) will look to bounce back from his first pro loss against Minneapolis native Rondale Hubbert (12-8-1 7 KOs) in an eight-round lightweight fight.
Unbeaten super middleweight Cem Kilic (12-0, 7 KOs) will see action in an eight-rounder against an opponent to be named.
Lorenzo Simpson (1-0, 1 KO), an 18-year-old Baltimore native, will showcase his talents in a six-round middleweight bout.
All photos by Mikey Williams/Top Rank