Friday night July 15th at the Roseland Ballroom in front of a nationally televised audience on ESPN2’s Friday night Fight’s, Pawel “The Raging Bull” Wolak (29-1, 19Ko’s) is primed and ready to take one step closer to his elusive world title hopes when he faces Delvin Rodriquez (24-5-2, 14KO’s) in the ten round main event of the evening.
Wolak ranked #3 WBO, #6 WBA, #8 IBF and #12WBC respectively, exploded on the national scene on March 12th with a one sided six round demolition of Yuri Foreman on the undercard of Cotto-Mayorga pay-per-view extravaganza at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. The signature victory has put Wolak right on the border of his lifelong dream of becoming a world champion. But his career was not built on just one victory but a solid well rounded base under the management of Ivan Edwards who found the right fights to properly prepare him for anything he will face in the ring.
Born in Debica, Poland, Wolak moved to the United States when he was nine years old, Wolak found a nationalistic pride in both countries.
His career aspiration a a a champion did not start in the boxing ring but rather on the mat as a high school wrestler. “I was a pretty good high school wrestler who made it to the regionals and when that was finished I wanted to go into M M A,” said Wolak. “With my wrestling background, I knew I needed more so I started kick boxing. I slowly transitioned into boxing because there were more shows and fighters doing boxing. Back then kick boxing was hard to find and Boxing was everywhere. So when I moved to New York, I started training at Gleason’s Gym. After a few amateur fights, people started telling me your style is more suited for the Pro’s and it just snowballed from there.”
Most in the boxing game know proper management is essential to making that move up the ladder and Wolak found that in manager Ivan Edwards. “Ivan has been a big help in my career, along my advisor Adam Skarzynski ,” said Wolak. The meeting of the team culminated from a weigh in of another fighter that Ivan Edwards had attended. Wolak’s trainer asked Ivan to take a looked at the budding amateur so he stopped by to take a look. They sat down after looking at him workout and discussed his aspirations as a pro and after a few more visits, came to an agreement and it was off to the professional ranks.
With limited amateur experience, but a will and heart of a world champion, Wolak began to run over his competition with six knockouts in his first ten victories as a professional. Manager Ivan Edwards put him in with all different styles along the early going, to help Wolak master his craft.
His non-stop punching style quickly gained him a raucous fan base that followed him from fight to fight. He quickly became known as the raging bull.
Wolak learned fast and quickly graduated to the six and eight round limits, defeating the likes of experienced journeymen such as Julio Jean and Clarence “Sonny Bono” Taylor.
In his tenth pro fight, it was time to truly test him and Edwards put him in with Dennis “Shark Attack” Sharpe (17-1-3, 4KO’s). The Raging Bull battered Sharpe throughout and the carnage was halted at the end of the fifth round. The victories just kept coming, as he defeated the likes of Jose Felix, Patrick Thompson and Luis Hodge. With each fight, Wolak refined his craft and he appeared ready for his first ten round fight.
It was April of 2006 and The New York State middleweight strap was on the line and Wolak at 13-0 was ready as he faced thirty nine fight veteran Keith Sims (25-13-1,14 KO’s) Wolak was cut in the opening moments, but it wouldn’t deter him as he sent Sims to the canvas twice and the fight was stopped at three minutes of the second round.
The victories continued to mount and his fanatical fan base grew. Manager Ivan Edwards knew that to properly get him to where he wanted to be, he would have to get him more nationally recognized competition. The successful early ratings of the national series show “The Contender” was the answer. On November 10th of 2007 in Wildwood New Jersey, The Raging Bull” was on his “A” game, dropping “Contender” Series participant Jonathan “Reid Dawg” Reid (34-7, 19KO’s), and continually battering him with a proper mixture of head and bodywork until his corner man threw in the towel at 2:39 of the fourth round.
His popularity in his home country was growing quickly and he Wolak wanted to give them a chance to see him live, so he made a trip back to Poland, with a one sided unanimous decision victory over veteran Sammy Sparkman by scores of 100-91, 97-94 and 97-95 respectively.
The contender series would also be to his detriment, as he lost his fight by a razor thin unanimous decision (96-94 x 2 and 97-93 as a professional against slick hard punching counter puncher Ishe Smith (19-3, 9KO’s) before a nationally televised Showtime audience.
Questions abound among inner boxing circles questioning whether Wolak had what it took to be a world champion or was he really just a great club fighter. Manager Ivan Edwards went right back to work and after a few changes, Wolak was on the path national attention with victories over journeyman Chad Greenleaf, Contender series stars Norberto Bravo and Vinroy Barret along with a resounding fifth round stoppage of Carlos Nascimento.
A turning point in the career of Wolak, who had recently signed with Top Rank Boxing, was his fight with Ishmail Arvin. “I really felt my confidence grow and thought I could become a world champion after the fight with Arvin. It was a nationally televised fight and Arvin was in top shape and gave his all, but I was sharper and went on to win the unanimous decision victory.”
Next up was another big bout at Yankee Stadium against New York rival “Irish” James Moore, on the undercard of Cotto-Foreman. Moore was in the fight in the early going, but the constant pressure of Wolak wore him down en-route to a convincing unanimous decision victory.
It looked like Wolak would finally get his chance to show the world he had what it took to be a world champion when Julio Cesar Chaves Jr excepted a fight with Wolak. It would be frustrating though as Chavez pulled the fight during the week of the fight due to flue like symptoms.
“I was preparing for another fight when this came along,” said Wolak. I was prepared to fight at the middleweight level and they came to us and said Chavez was recovering from being sick and would be unable to make the weight limit, so we moved it up even more. Then on Tuesday of fight week we were told he would be unable to fight due to flue like systems.”
In stepped last minute replacement WBC Youth junior middleweight champion Jose Pinzon and Wolak was asked to go from the main event to a supporting bout as well as to lose weight for the fight.
“My head was spinning from the turmoil. Go from fighting Chavez to Jose Pinzon and the weight fluctuation put me off my game a little.”The fight went on and Wolak was dropped for this first time in his career, but rose to his feet and constantly hurt Pinzon on his way to a seventh round stoppage of the champion.
Manager Ivan Edwards went right back into negotiations for another big fight and he landed a whopper in Yuri Foreman on the televised undercard of Cotto-Mayorga. Foreman gained the respect of boxing fans around the globe for his gutsy performance fighting on one leg after an injury with the heavy handed Miguel Cotto. Many boxing writers still didn’t think Wolak had what it took and that Yuri would outbox Wolak to capture an easy victory. It was the furthest from the truth as Wolak under the training of (Aroz “The Terrific” Gist and Tommy Brooks, had the perfect game plan for the fight.
Right from the opening bell, Wolak controlled the action and battered the heavily favored Foreman around the ring. Foreman, could not handle the movement and aggression of Wolak. Every time he would land anything ,Wolak would finish the exchange with a heavy shot that would put him back on the defensive. Foreman was battered and beaten from the constant onslaught of Wolak and had to retire at the end of the sixth, refusing to come out of the corner.
The victory has changed the views of many boxing brethren as Wolak appears on the cusp of a world title shot. But there is one man standing in his way and that is Delvin Rodriquez.
“I know Delvin will be in great shape and he is a very tall fighter, standing at six feet, so it will be a very tough fight.”
“I have been sparring with Richard Pearson, who is tall and bigger then Delvin. He also hits harder than Delvin. I have also been sparring with Allen Conyers, who is a big puncher. We worked with a lot of guys who are taller like him, so I am completely prepared for this fight. One other guy who helped me prepare for Rodriquez is Ossie Duran who is coming off a big victory of Latiff Mundy a few weeks ago. He is a true 160 pounder, with a great jab. I am so proud of him and what he has accomplished,” said Wolak.
“I truly believe a victory over Delvin will put me in line for a possible title shot. I am sure he is going to be ready so this going to be a great battle of wills on Friday night.” You won’t want to miss this one.