By Lem Satterfield
BoxingScene.com caught up to New Jersey junior middleweight Pawel Wolak, who will meet former WBA titlist Yuri Foreman of Brooklyn, N.Y., on the undercard of a March 12 main event featuring current WBA junior middleweight king Miguel Cotto against ex-champion Ricardo Mayorga at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas.
The 29-year-old Wolak (28-1, 18 knockouts) and the 30-year-old Foreman (28-1, eight KOs) will be part of an ambitious, Top Rank Promotions card being headlined by Mayorga (29-7-1, 22 KOs) of Managua, Nicaragua, and, Cotto (35-2, 28 KOs), of Puerto Rico, that will include the return from a 14-month layoff of former world champion female boxer, Christy Martin (49-5-3, 31 KOs).
Wolak is coming off of December's seventh-round stoppage of Jose Pinzon (18-2-1, 12 KOs), this, after having risen from the first knockdown of his career as the result of a short, left hook to the jaw in the second round.
Wolak-Pinzon was one of early, under card bouts on a main event featuring a lightweight clash after which WBC champion Humberto Soto (54-7-2, 32 knockouts) earned a unanimous decision over Urbano Antillon (28-2, 20 KOs).
Foreman is coming off of June's ninth-round knockout loss to Cotto, who dethroned him as WBA champ. Against Cotto, Foreman suffered a knee injury that required successful reconstructive surgery and a summer of rehabilitation before he could return in October to training and working out.
Foreman is studying to become a rabbi, and became the first Israeli world champion when he dethroned Puerto Rico's Daniel Santos by unanimous decision in November of 2009.
A winner of seven straight fights, four of them by knockout, since losing a unanimous decision to Ishe Smith in August of 2008, Wolak spoke to BoxingScene.com concerning his match up with Foreman, which Wolak's manager, Ivan Edwards called, "a do or die fight for Pawel."
BoxingScene.com: How is training going for Yuri Foreman?
Pawel Wolak: It's going perfect now. I'm very excited. You know, we have had a good camp and a really hard camp and we're coming down to the end now. I think that everything should go fine, I think.
BoxingScene.com: How does Yuri Foreman compare to Ishe Smith, against whom you suffered your lone defeat?
Pawel Wolak: Yuri is definitely going to be the toughest guy that I've ever fought. His style, not many people fight like him. I mean, I've not seen many people who fight like him. He's always in shape.
He's always prepared to go 10 or 12 rounds, or however many rounds that he needs to go. He's durable, and he obviously demonstrated that against Miguel Cotto.
I think that he shows good movement. He shows good head movement. He bounces around the whole time. He's shown the ability to do that for 10 rounds. So it's going to be tricky.
Like Ishe, they're both smart fighters, but Ishe is a little different. They both know how to use their body to their advantage. I think that Ishe Smith is more of a counter puncher and more of a boxer.
This guys, Yuri Foreman, has more of a European kind of style. Quick punches, moving to the side. Ishe Smith, though, he was always a guy who, you know, you would always catch and give and then step to the side.
Ishe would try to put some weight on the guy, use the round to his advantage, steal the round when it's close. They're both veterans but different sort of veterans.
But against Yuri Foreman, you know, hopefully, I can drag him into a hard fight. I want drag him into a pace or into something that he's not used to. Hopefully I'll come out on top.
BoxingScene.com: Can you talk about what you think that you did for your career by rebounding from the knockdown against Jose Pinzon?
Pawel Wolak: Well, I think that for my career, at least, I think that I showed people that, 'Wow, he's a tough guy and he can win a tough fight.' I think that I showed that I'm going to fight on whether or not I get dropped. What kept me up and why?
Basically any time that I get hurt, or I get hit with a good punch, you know, I want to get the guy back. When I got dropped, the first thought in my mind, and the only thought in my mind was to come back and to do the same thing to him, and maybe even worse.
I think that you have to come back if you want to be anything in this sport. This is the toughest sport out there. You've got to show that you can fight through adversity.
I got dropped, and I think people said that I lost the first round. If I didn't get dropped, I would have walked him down quicker. I stopped him in the seventh, but I would have stopped him in the fourth or fifth if I hadn't gotten dropped.
BoxingScene.com: Do you think any less of Yuri Foreman following his loss to Miguel Cotto?
Pawel Wolak: I think that it makes him, not necessarily a more desperate or vulnerable fighter, but I think that it makes him a tougher fighter. I think that he showed that he didn't want to quit. He went down, but I guess that it was because of his leg and he didn't want the fight stopped.
That just shows his toughness and that he didn't want to quit in the end. It only improved his situation and his reputation, especially since he was fighting on basically one leg.
Miguel Cotto's obviously a big body puncher, and Yuri Foreman went down from a body shot and still didn't want to stay down. He showed me a lot in that fight.
Obviously, the question may arise whether or not his knee is 100 percent, but I don't see a vulnerable fighter. It's going to have been nine or 10 months since that fight has happened.
BoxingScene.com: Do you believe that coming off of your last fight, and with a victory over Yuri Foreman, that you will have set yourself up for a major fight?
Pawel Wolak: I personally feel that I did. And if there is a chance, and there is a possibility of getting a big fight, I believe that I should just take that fight. I'll fight my heart out.
I'm ready for anybody and to fight hard. I'm more hardened. I think that my last fight has kind of hardened me a little bit because I always knew that boxing was a rough sport.
You sign on to take everything that you possibly can from your opponent, and, now, even more, I'm think that way. I've got to use every possible advantage that I have and every situation.
BoxingScene.com: What do you believe is at stake for you in this fight and beyond?
Pawel Wolak: Well, I want to win at all costs. I have to win. This is a huge opportunity for me, putting me in right there in the top five if I win. Obviously, I'm with Top Rank, and I want to be able to be in position to fight any of the champions. There's Miguel Cotto. There's [IBF champion] Cornelius Bunderage.
But this is the most important thing for me. I haven't really thought about anything beyond fighting Yuri Foreman. But I definitely want a big fight. This means a lot. It would make my life better for me and my family. If I come out victorious, I definitely want to fight one of the big names.