By Lem Satterfield
On Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, New Jersey junior middleweight Pawel Wolak scored his second straight knockout, and his fifth stoppage among eight consecutive victories when the corner of former WBA titlist Yuri Foreman threw in the towel prior to the seventh round of their clash.
The 29-year-old Wolak, who has not lost since suffering defeat by 10-round unanimous decision to Ishe Smith in August of 2008, improved to 29-1 with his 19th knockout, dropping the 30-year-old Foreman to 28-2, with eight stoppages.
Wolak was coming off of December's seventh-round stoppage of Jose Pinzon (18-2-1, 12 KOs), against whom Wolak rose from a second-round knockdown of their middleweight match up.
Wolak's manager, Ivan Edwards, would like his fighter's next bout to be against either junior middleweight and middleweight contender, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (41-0-1, 30 KOs), IBF junior middleweight titlist Cornelius Bundrage (30-4, 18 KOs), or WBO junior middleweight king Miguel Cotto (36-2, 29 KOs).
Wolake would also like a potential match up with Mexico's 20-year-old WBC junior middleweight champion Saul Alvarez (35-0-1, 26 KOs), who scored his 32nd straight win with last weekend's unanimous decision over Mathew Hatton (41-5-2, 16 KOs), having stopped 11 of his past 14 opponents.
Wolak-Foreman took place on the under card of a main event featuring Cotto scoring a 12th-round knockout of ex-champion, Ricardo Mayorga (29-8-1, 22 KOs), this, after Cotto had dethroned Foreman as WBA king by stopping Foreman in the ninth round of their June clash -- the first-ever professional fight to be staged at the new Yankee Stadium in New York.
In January, Edwards announced that veteran trainer, Tommy Brooks, would assist Wolak's regular corner man, Aroz Gist, for the bout against Foreman, who, at one time, had been trained by Brooks.
The 56-year-old Brooks said that he worked "four or five fights" with Foreman, and was last in the corner of Wolak during a Jan., 2010 unanimous decision victory over Ishmail Arvin at Madison's Square Garden's WaMu Theatre.
When BoxingScene.com caught up to Wolak the morning after his win over Foreman, he was still in his hotel room of the MGM Grand watching a classic re-run of one of Rocky Marciano's two triumphs over Jersey Joe Walcott.
BoxingScene.com: So what are you up to?
Pawel Wolak: I'm still here in Vegas. I'm in the MGM Grand. I'm still in my room. I'm just flipping through the channels. But I'm actually watching Rocky Marciano-Jersey Joe Walcott. There's nothing else to watch on television, so I just put it on, you know what I mean? I'm just killing some time before I go.
BoxingScene.com: So you couldn't just be alone with your thoughts about your win over Yuri Foreman?
Pawel Wolak: You know, I wasn't really thinking about the fight. You know, it's over. Of course, I'm really excited about the win. I think that, hopefully, everybody really believes that I deserve some chances now. which, believe me, I want to be involved in some big fights.
That's what I'm hoping for. Besides that, I'm just sitting here.
BoxingScene.com: Can you shed some light on your preparation and training for Yuri Foreman?
Pawel Wolak: There was a lot of good teamwork, of course. We started sparring in the gym, my strength and conditioning guy and then me giving them feedback exactly about six weeks ago. So we started about six weeks ago, and it was great. I think that it was seven weeks total, but the last week was pretty much resting.
Everything came together. We had great sparring. Not only did I work with Ossie Duran, Glen Tapia, and I had great sparring partners, No. 1. We first started doing about three sparring sessions a week. But that was just too much on top of my weight lifting and on top of my running. On top of my swimming.
I finally said that I've got to back off, so we went back to two days of sparring. I've got to say that I was a little more rested. My body was just getting in great shape. My heart rate was dropping unbelievably. I was really getting into shape. My lungs were feeling good. My swimming was the best that I had ever done.
I've got to say that I was eating a lot of fish. I felt very good. I ate salmon twice a day, I ate tuna once a day, I ate shrimp at night. I think that all of those things just came together perfectly.
I've got to say that it just worked out. I didn't have to lose that much weight. I was pretty much like maybe four pounds off even after the week off. It was perfect.
BoxingScene.com: How do you feel that your strategy and your conditioning manifest itself in the fight?
Pawel Wolak: The strategy was right off of the bat to just jump on him. I know that I've been looked at as a slow starter. But my team told me, 'Listen, hit him everywhere you can -- arms, shoulders, body, head.' You've got to put in the body punches. But they said, 'Take your time, but go after him.'
They said, 'Keep him on the ropes, and take him out of his comfort zone, and follow him all over the ring.' As the fight went on, I was really comfortable throwing my jab. I'm not really a jabber, but I wanted to flag him a little bit with my jab to keep his attention on my jab a little bit. As the rounds went on, he started to sort of lean in.
He was putting his left shoulder in and leaning to the right. So I saw that the body shot with the right hand and theleft hook to the body and the over hand right started working. But at the same time, there were a few times where I had hurt him and I hurt him a couple of times with the left hook to the body.
If you watch the fight, you can see about three instances where I hit Yuri with a left hook to the body and Yuri was bent over. I remember hitting him with a left hook and I heard him go, 'Aaaagh!' Like he was bent over. So I knew that I was putting in good rounds to the body and good work to the body. The right hook to the body and the over hand right.
BoxingScene.com: Weren't you trying to rough him up as well?
Pawel Wolak: Yeah, at the same time, I was trying to make it rough on the inside. Yuri almost never holds. He's always bouncing and boxing. But when he was holding, Tommy Brooks was telling me 'If Yuri starts holding you, then there's something wrong with him.' He's a guy who tries to bounce in the middle of the ring.
So I knew that as soon as he started holding me, that I needed to punish him. When he held me, I was trying to hit him, and hit him again.
BoxingScene.com: When did you feel that the fight's momentum had swung in your favor?
Pawel Wolak: I don't know if there was a moment where I felt that I completely had him. But in my mind, as I was coming back to my corner, Tommy Brooks was communicating with me. Before we even got into the ring, Tommy was telling me, 'Look, I'm going to tell you if you're winning a round, if you're losing a round, or if you have got to pick it up.'
And you know, that's perfect. That's great information to have. And that's what he did. Every time that I sat down on the stool, Tommy was like, 'Listen, I got you winning that round.' To me, it was great. That was my goal to go back to the corner having won every round possible and to just build it up for a big points lead.
I wasn't really thinking about stopping him. I was more or less trying to work and work and work so that I was winning every round.
BoxingScene.com: Were there moments in the sixth round that you believe led to his corner stopping the fight?
Pawel Wolak: You know, I just think that his corner thought that he had had enough. I don't know what happened. I don't know if he was hurt or what. I just think that I was landing pretty good. Left hooks to the head and left hooks to the body. Right hands to the head. I just think that his corner felt that I was winning most of the rounds.
I just think that his corner was like, 'What's the use and what's the point?' I think that they decided to stop the fight because they knew that it was going to be hard for Yuri to come back on the scorecards. So I think that they were like, 'Alright, let's just shut it down,' you know?
BoxingScene.com: Do you have any lingering aches or pains?
Pawel Wolak: You know, my eye is completely shut right now. My left eye is completely shot. I can't even see out of it. So I'm trying to see how long that takes to actually clear up. I think that a couple of times with Yuri, I leaned into what he was trying to come up with.
A right-handed uppercut, and he caught me. He caught me right in the eye and right on the nose, I'd say, toward the end of the fight, maybe in the fourth or fifth round.
BoxingScene.com: So what do you want next?
Pawel Wolak: We've talked about, obviously, there is unfinished business with Chavez Jr. I just saw Canelo Alvarez just won a title this past weekend.I would definitely take that fight. And I would take the fight with Cornelius Bundrage, who has the IBF title. Any of those three guys, you know, I'm willing to do it.
If Top Rank gives the okay, you know, then I'm ready to go.
BoxingScene.com: What about Migel Cotto?
Pawel Wolak: Eventually, yeah, hopefully we do fight. I have a lot of respect for Miguel Cotto. I think that he's a great guy, a really nice guy and a tough guy. I don't want to say anything about him right now. Eventually, in the future? Sure. Not right now, though. I think that I'm nowhere near where Miguel Cotto's at.
Miguel Cotto's an elite fighter, and he's done everything -- huge shows. I definitely would have to win a title or bring a title to the table and then maybe we could unify it that way.