By Mitch Abramson
Pawel Wolak couldn’t stop smiling during a recent press conference. Sitting at the far end of the dais, dressed in a snappy charcoal suit, Wolak was a secondary performer during the press conference in Manhattan to hype the rematch between Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito. But he was there, posing with the fighters, as much a part of the promotion as they were.
Wolak is scheduled to fight on on the Dec. 3 undercard at Madison Square Garden against a yet-to-be-determined fighter. A cynic might say that Wolak was smiling because he doesn’t have to face Delvin Rodriguez next. But Wolak was thrilled to be in the company of such well-known fighters.
“It’s unbelievable,” Wolak said. “Standing right next to Miguel Cotto, Margarito and [Nonito] Donaire, it’s amazing.”
This is the position that Wolak hoped to be in after he and Rodriguez fought one of the more memorable bouts of the year so far on July 15 at the Roseland Ballroom. Wolak fought nearly the second half of the fight with his right eye shut, and the two battled to a majority draw that screamed for a rematch.
While Rodriguez and his promoter, Joe DeGuardia have clamored for a return bout right away, Wolak has been more coy about his future. In the days after the bout, he signed with Cameron Dunkin, the influential manager and sought to capitalize on the publicity garnered from his gutty performance, calling out some of the bigger names in the junior welterweight division. A few days ago, he did the same, while acknowledging that he’s also open to facing Rodriguez again- just after he gets a title shot.
“The whole point is to get to the title,” Wolak said. “So any of the belt holders- that’s who we’re interested in.”
As for facing Rodriguez again, he said: “That will happen. We want to settle the score. My point is- I want to use what I got to get to the title, and then of course, I want to fight Delvin. [But] there’s options out there. I’m not trying to do what’s best for Delvin, I’m trying to do what’s best for me. But the fight has to happen eventually. I want to settle the score. I’m better. The whole thing with the eye- whatever, I have to prove that I’m better.”
Wolak is still basking in the glow of his performance, and he was clearly pleased to be included in such a star-studded promotion.
“This is what we planned for,” he said. “The hope is to get better known and I want people to want to see me fight, and that’s exactly the plan. So, right now that’s the whole point. Cameron Dunkin is working closely with Top Rank, and Top Rank is also pushing me.”
Wolak has watched the first fight with Rodriguez on his own and noticed subtle things that he can exploit when they fight again, mainly how to avoid those slashing uppercuts from Rodriguez.
“One thing that I learned, don’t stay in the middle,” he said. “When I got inside, I had my head in his chest, where he could land uppercuts. Put your head to the side and automatically you take that away.”
Mitch Abramson covers boxing for The New York Daily News and BoxingScene.com.