By Lem Satterfield
BoxingScene.com caught up to New Jersey junior middleweight contender, Pawel Wolak, who will pursue his ninth consecutive victory, his sixth knockout during that run and his third straight stoppage against Delvin Rodriguez on ESPN's Friday Night Fights from Roseland Ballroom in New York.
The 29-year-old Wolak (29-1, 19 knockouts) has not lost since August of 2008, when he suffered a Showtime-televised 10-round defeat by unanimous decision to the slick boxing Ishe Smith.
Nicknamed "The Raging Bull," Wolak is coming off the biggest win of his career, a sixth-round stoppage of former WBA champion Yuri Foreman (28-2, eight KOs) in March.
Wolak is hoping that a win over the 31-year-old Rodriguez (25-5-2, 14 KO) could lead to potential bouts opposite southpaw WBO junior middleweight king Sergei Dzinziruk (37-1, 23 KOs), IBF belt-holder Cornelius Bunderage (31-4, 18 KOs), WBC champion Saul Alvarez (37-0-1, 27 KOs) or WBA titlist Miguel Cotto (36-2, 29 KOs).
A 2004 business graduate of Berkeley College in midtown Manhattan, Wolak balances his boxing profession with being a married father of a 2-year-old boy who works construction for Adam's European Contracting.
Wolak, whose middlename is Greg or "Grzegorz," in Polish, spoke to BoxingScene.com during this Q&A.
BoxingScene.com: How are you feeling?
Pawel Wolak: I'm feeling good. I'm feeling really good. I've got this weigh-in today at 4 p.m., and then, that's it, I'll be ready for the fight.
BoxingScnee.com: Is this the first time in your career where you are the guy against whom the opponent has so much to gain?
PW: I don't think of myself as the featured guy. I honestly don't get wrapped up in that stuff, man. It's just a fight for me that I have to do well in and to prove myself.
The boxing public has to be able to believe in me. I can't let it get into my mind that I'm supposed to beat him easily or anything. I don't think about that. I know that I have a lot on my plate.
I'm going up against so much hype, that I've got to prove the hype. I have to go out there and prove that I'm good enough to compete at a higher level.
BoxingScene.com: Do you feel as if you're getting your proper respect as a fighter?
PW: I'm not sure if the writers or knowledgeable people in boxing are giving me the respect or thinking of me as the next champion, but I will tell you that the things that make me happy are the fans. New people are coming along, not just my longtime fans.
They're saying that they love the way that I fight and they're wishing me good luck on facebook and on Twitter. People that I did not know before are telling me that they think of me as one of the top guys, and that's very important to me. Obviously the writers and the critics, you hope that they come along later.
But that's not what's really on my mind. I always thought that I could compete with the best, but the thing that's important to me is the fans. Their really coming out to support me.
There's a lot of motivation because I don't want to disappoint anybody. People are really nice. They're writing things like, 'You're unbelievable,', and, 'I like the way that you fight.'
They're saying, 'On top of that, you're a great person,' and, 'You're soft-spoken.' They said that I'm a real person and things like that. That's what makes me happy and I don't want to disappoing people like that.
BoxingScene.com: Do you feel that as a family man and construction worker, people relate to your working class nature?
PW: I do. I think so. Really, if you look at my life and you know me personally, there's really nothing out of the ordinary. I drive a little car, a Nisson, and I drive it long distances so I can save on gas. I have a regular house in Allamuchy, N.J. I have no bling bling or jewelry.
I've basically got the same friends that I've had since middle school or elementary school. I hang out with them in our home town. I have a family. My wife of three years is Heather. My son is P.J. He has the same first name as me, but he's not really a Jr.
His middle name is Anthony, after his grandfather. My middle name is Greg. So I spend a lot more time with them. It's just a basic life. Of course, my job is a basic job and I bust my butt. A lot of people, given this economy in this country, that's exactly what a lot of people do.
They go to work in the morning. I do construction and do a lot of different things. I go from being a brick layer to being a roofer from putting up scaffolding. It varies. Every few months, they switch me.
BoxingScene.com: What sort of fight are you expecting against Delvin Rodriguez?
PW: I think that it's going to be a great fight with a lot of punches and a lot of action. It's going to be an intense fight. I think that the fans are going to be happy. It's going to be a tough fight.
BoxingScene.com: With all of the activity in your weight class, what do you hope is in your future?
PW: You know, my thinking has not changed. This is a tough fight against Delvin. Obviously, there will be a lot of people watching on regular television, which is very important for me.
The whole point is to get to that title.
If everything goes well on Friday, then the patch continues, and I want to go right after that title. Whoever has a belt, I want to fight them.