Born: March 19, 1970
There are few fighters in the history of the sport that have done so much in so little of time. Yet, in just 24 professional fights, “Steel Will” Grigsby had captured his first world title by the time he had faced just his 15th opponent. He’d capture 2 more before his career would commence. Dubbed by historians as the best fighter to come out of Minnesota since the 1970′s, Will Grigsby was a force to be reckoned with. At times, Grigsby seemed to float in the ring, sticking his jab in his foes’ faces, or throwing his potent left hook that he whipped like a sickle chopping wheat. He was one of the finest pound-for-pound fighters in the world, and perhaps the best counter-punching boxer of any weight class. Very difficult to hit clean, Grigsby was also known for his tight defense and natural instincts inside the ring. As beautiful as he was to watch, there was an edginess to him from his days growing up on the streets of the Selby-Dale neighborhood of Saint Paul , that when pushed, could bring out the best in Will.
After capturing 3 Upper Midwest Golden Gloves titles at Jr. Flyweight in 1985, 87′, and 88′, Grigsby turned pro. In just his second professional fight, he fought on the undercard of the Roberto Duran-Iran Barkley fight in Atlantic City , New Jersey . But instead of developing slowly against softer competition, as do most fighters, he was facing the 1988 Olympic Silver Medalist and future world champion and Hall of Famer, Michael Carbajal. Carbajal was supposed to make quick work of Grigsby, or so his handlers and promoter thought, but Grigsby had other plans. “Steel Will” gave as good as he got, and it was anyone’s fight going into the 4th and final round. Had Carbajal not dropped Grigsby in that final stanza, the fight probably would have gone to Grigsby; instead, that 10-8 round was enough to earn Carbajal a slim split-decision victory.
After a 5 year layoff, he returned to the ring in 1995 with trainer Dennis Presley and a new manager in Rory Rowe. Together they embarked on a journey to the top that Will was all too willing to make up for lost time. By 1996, Will captured the USBA Flyweight title with a victory over Jesus Lopez. By 1998, he was 12-1-1 and was fighting Ratanapol Sor Vorapin for the vacant IBF Jr. Flyweight title that December in Fort Lauderdale , Florida . Grigsby was magnificent; whipping the 37-3-1 Vorapin so thoroughly, that those who witnessed the fight didn’t think there was a small man on the planet capable of beating him. He defended his title successfully against Carmelo Caceres before fighting the legendary Ricardo Lopez in December of 1999 in Las Vegas , Nevada . It was a chess match, but one where tempers flared at times, and one that left both fighters cut and bloody. In the end, Lopez remained undefeated and took the decision and Grigsby’s belt. The following year, Will challenged 16-1-1 Nelson Dieppa for the vacant WBO Jr. Flyweight title, taking a convincing unanimous decision over Dieppa and winning his 2nd world title.
Grigsby returned to action in 2002 winning 3 fights in a row, not losing a single round in any of them. He then set his sights on Victor Burgos and his IBF Jr. Flyweight title. Grigsby took it to the champ, bedazzling him with quick combinations and a stiff jab, as Burgos couldn’t figure out the crafty St. Paulite, as Grigsby walked away with his 3rd world title. He later lost the title to Ulises Solis in January of 2006 but challenged Solis to rematch in an effort to regain the title. Unfortunately, the fight was stopped in the 7th round due to an eye injury of Grigsby’s and he called it a career. As a 3-time world title winner, Grigsby’s accomplishments speak for themselves, and he is considered one of the finest pound-for-pound boxers in state history.