Joshua Greer Jr. fights for the dream shared by fallen friend Ed Brown
Joshua Greer Jr. knows how precarious life can be. Just a few years ago, he was shot at while sitting in a parked car in his hometown of Chicago. He survived; the bullets whizzed past his head by a few inches. He was one of the lucky ones. Others weren’t so fortunate.
Ed Brown, a promising welterweight whom Greer had known since he was 15, was likewise sitting in a parked car. The bullets shot at him connected, killing him in December of 2016, less than a month after his 20th victory.
“Ed Brown was like a brother to me. We’d go to the gym together, we talked so much, we talked about ideas and share our dreams,” remembers Greer. “I just knew how much it meant to him to be on the level that I am now, that’s what he wanted and that’s what he worked for every day but his dreams were cut short.
“It gives me the extra motivation to work even harder because I’m bringing him along with me every step.”
Greer (20-1-1, 12 knockouts) will take another step towards fulfilling those dreams this Saturday when he faces Nikolai Potapov (20-1-1, 11 KOs) at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. The fight will be the co-featured bout underneath Shakur Stevenson’s homecoming against late replacement Alberto Guevara and will be televised live by ESPN.
The 25-year-old Greer will be going for his 17th straight win while the Brooklyn-based Russian Potapov is seeking his fourth win since his only defeat, when he was stopped after seven rounds by former world champion Omar Narvaez in 2017.
“He’s an average boxer with a decent stance, that’s just how I look at him,” said Greer, who is coming off an eighth round knockout of Giovanni Escaner in February.
The fight will be an IBF bantamweight title eliminator, and could propel the winner into a world title fight against the winner of the World Boxing Super Series final, which will be contested between IBF titleholder Naoya Inoue and WBA belt holder Nonito Donaire Jr. Greer says he hasn’t been paying attention to it, and will cross that bridge once he gets to it.
Greer got an up-close view of Potapov in March of 2017, when they both fought on the same ShoBox card in Detroit. Potapov earned a split decision win over Antonio Nieves that night while Greer scored a sixth round knockout of the previously unbeaten James Smith.
It was that night that Greer unveiled his pre-fight prop, a pillow that reads “Night Night”, which would become a signature of his.
“The guy that I was fighting, he kept saying that he was gonna knock me out. But when I first got the call from his promoter for the fight, they wrote me on Facebook, I’m like, ‘are you serious?’ I know how this game works, you guys are bringing me in to lose to him,” said Greer.
“I just was confident that I was gonna knock him out. He had bad feet, he’s just an aggressive guy, he was a tough guy who was too tough for his own good.
Smith put on the bravado for his hometown crowd, but Greer was determined to turn it around on him.
“When we were at the weigh-in he kept saying that he was gonna knock me out. I said ‘I know you used to fighting bums and everything but this is gonna be a totally different ball game. I’m gonna be the winner and knock you out. I’m gonna put you to sleep,’” said Greer.
“I just wanted to embarrass him and put all the pressure on him in his hometown. I knew if I embarrassed the guy like that he’s gonna be so mad that he’s gonna come to kill me with no strategy. So I brought the pillow to the weigh-in, Tommy Hearns and K9 [Cornelius Bundrage] were there and they were laughing at him in his own hometown, everybody was laughing at him, so I knew all the pressure was on him and he’d try to kill me.”
That’s exactly what Smith did, and in the process, left himself wide open for the right hand that sent him crashing to the canvas, belly down, no count necessary.
Could a sponsorship from a pillow company be in his future?
“I’m sure that’s all in the works,” said Greer.