When a boxer decides to retire it is many times met with a temporary tag similar to a legendary rock band that will only play one more show only to go on tour a year later. Matt Vanda will fight his last professional fight on January 19th in Minneapolis against Minnesota's best overall fighter Caleb Truax.
"It's been real fun," said Vanda about his professional career that began in1996. "I made a lot of money, I've traveled the world, fought in the biggest venues in the United States. It's the type of stuff, people don't get to live these kind of dreams."
Vanda made his debut in Kearney, Nebraska against Ed Fuller that resulted in a second round TKO. It was the last fight Fuller had as a pro. Despite a bad inring performance against veteran Sam Garr and trouble out of the ring, Vanda built his record to 31-0 before losing his first fight to Armando Velandez onAugust 19th 2004. The fight was stopped just 45 seconds into the eighth round by referee Mark Nelson.
Weeks after the Garr fight, Vanda was arrested on charges of drug possession after St. Paul police found "small amounts" of suspected methamphetamine and mushrooms. All charges were denied and eventually dismissed and the predator got back to business.
He defeated a former world champion in Yory Boy Campas in 2005 and then two years later he headlined the biggest fight in Minnesota history when he battled Anthony Bonsante. In front of nearly 9,000 fans at Target Center the two battled in a bout that was six years in the making and gave Minnesota fight fans the fight they were looking for.
Vanda talked of a rematch against Bonsante for months and even years following the battle. That fight never happened. What did transpire was the opportunity for Vanda to pick up several pay days against some of the biggest names in the middleweight division. He fought Julio Ceasar Chavez jr twice, Peter Manfredo, Ossie Duran, John Duddy and Marco Rubio.
By the time January 19th rolls around, Vanda will have had a year away from the ring after he tested positive for marijuana in his fight against Rubio. Now, Vanda will end his career on his terms in his own back yard against an opponent he has trained and shared a gym with.
"I guess it couldn't have been wrote better," said Vanda about his soon to be 59 career fights. "I sure hope I knock Caleb out and end it like that. I've got no problem retiring. I'm happy with what I've done."
Vanda is working full time as a Union welder and for now is content with leaving the boxing world in his rear view mirror. He admits that there may come a time and a place where he may get the itch to climb between the ropes but for now is content to punch the clock instead of an opponent. As to the fightagainst Truax on January 19th?
"Caleb better bring his ‘A' game," said Vanda. "When it comes down to it on the19th, he's getting his ass kicked and I'm the one kickin' ass."
Tickets to the event can be purchased here.