CHICAGO – Whether or not his swing bout airs on this week’s ESPN Friday Night Fights (FNF) card, welterweight prospect “Bazooka” Joe Linenfelser (9-1-1, 6 KOs), a 23-year-old boxer from Rockford, Illinois, plans to steal the show.
The final ESPN FNF card of the year, live from Hammond, Indiana, showcases 2008 U.S. Olympian Demetrius Andrade vs. The Contenders’ champion Grady Brewer in the main event and former world champion David Diaz vs. Hank Lundy. Never-the-less, Linenfelser plans to rock the Horseshoe Casino.
“It’s going to be great, whether or not I actually get to fight on ESPN,” Linenfelser said. “I know there are four other good fighters on the card with great records and reputations, but people who watch my fight are going to go away asking when I’ll be fighting again.”
In a six-round fight, Linenfelser will face his most difficult test to date, tough veteran Ruben “Modern Day Warrior” Galvan (27-17-4, 10 KOs), who has only been stopped four times. Galvan has been in the ring against world champions such as Zab Judah, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., Paul Spadafora, as well as world title challenger Dmitriy Salita.
“Beating Galvan will give me more credibility and hopefully get me ranked by one of the regional organizations,” Linenfelser added. “It’ll help put me on the map and get me a shot at Henry Coyle in a few months. For now, though, I’m fully focused on Galvan. He is a veteran who has fought a lot of good guys. I really don’t know too much about him, but I’m a young, hungry pup and I know that I bring more to the table than him.”
When he made his pro debut October 8, 2005, stopping 181-fight veteran Donnie Penelton in the opening round of their fight in Iowa, 17-year-old Joe was the youngest professional boxer in the United States.
In October of 2008, Linenfelser registered his signature victory versus former NABA & NBA champion “Fearless” Fernando Hernandez, who Joe had previously defeated in a kickboxing fight. Linenfelser put Hernandez to sleep in the fifth round and then into retirement right after their fight in Auburn Hills, Michigan. Next up for “Bazooka Joe” was an eight-round throw-down with 1996 Cuban Olympian Ivan Leden (12-8-1), in Milwaukee, that Linenfelser won by decision.
Linenfelser was inactive for 14 ½ months (2010-2011) due to an injury suffered in the ring, until his triumphant ring return this past April against Jeremy Marts in Chicago. Linenfelser dropped Marts once in the fifth and twice from body shots in the final round en route to a win by unanimous, six-round decision.
“I took a year off and during that time I concentrated more on body shots,” ‘Bazooka Joe” explained. “I’d always been ‘Bazooka Joe,’ throwing bombs and knocking guys out. But I found out that, the better the opponent, the harder it is to knock ‘em out with just head shots. Body shots tear-down an opponent and then you go upstairs to finish.”
Linenfelser has fought almost exclusively as a junior middleweight – his only loss was in a fight in which he weighed 171 ¾ pounds – but he’s dropped down to welterweight for this fight and plans to continue fighting at 147.
“I had no problems making 147,” he concluded. “There was a time that I had some personal problems, but I started praying a lot and everything just seemed to fall into place for me. My speed and stamina has improved. I’m as strong as ever and I’ve been running 12 miles a day. When I fought at 154, I’d balloon-up as high as 187 between fights. Now, I eat and drink right and my weight doesn’t go way up.
“My father (manager Jeff) has been telling me for a long time that I should be fighting at 147. I haven’t felt this good since I was 14. I’m excited to fight at this weight. I’m on a nutritious diet and take vitamins. I used to be on a ‘wrestling diet’ to make weight because I lost weight the wrong way. I’m living healthy and feeling real strong.”