By Keith Idec
Pawel Wolak wants to entertain fight fans again Saturday night.
Wolak knows, however, that he’ll have to approach his junior middleweight rematch against Delvin Rodriguez more intelligently than he did their memorable battle July 15 in New York. The Polish brawler realizes fighting face-first isn’t part of the blueprint to win their 10-rounder at Madison Square Garden.
The 30-year-old contender must box better if he is to out-point Rodriguez, who adapted well to Wolak’s renowned pressure in the second half of their first fight, which resulted in a 10-round majority draw.
“I’ve got to be smarter,” Wolak said. “I’m always going to be aggressive. I’m here to fight. I’m a fighter and I want to fight hard. There’s still changes and things you need to improve on. There’s some things you need to change. … We’ve got to get better. There’s no question about it.
“I’m not going to say much [about strategy], but of course I’m going to fight smarter. You’ve always got to fight smarter, fight better. My camp was so good. I had a long camp, the longest camp I’ve ever had in my life. My body’s ready. My body is in great shape. I think it’s going to be a great fight.”
His reliable chin and his heart have compensated for Wolak’s defensive deficiencies during much of his seven-year pro career. Whether Wolak (29-1-1, 19 KOs), of Rockaway, N.J., can out-box a significantly taller opponent who’s more skilled remains to be seen, but Wolak watched footage from their first fight more than enough times to understand what he has to do differently in their rematch.
“I watch certain rounds more than others,” Wolak said. “I’m one of my biggest critics, so for me, when I watch it I don’t watch it as a fan. I watch it like, ‘Damn! I could’ve done better. I should’ve done this.’ I think to myself, ‘Why am I doing this? I should be doing this.’
“Other people’s fights I watch as a fan. But my fights especially, I watch as a critic because I’m trying to better myself. I watched it as a critic. I watched it a few times and I’ve got to learn from it. I’ve got to get better.”
Rodriguez (25-5-3, 14 KOs), of Danbury, Conn., doesn’t think Wolak will be able to alter his style all that much in one of three bouts HBO Pay-Per-View will televise prior to the Miguel Cotto-Antonio Margarito rematch. In fact, Rodriguez anticipates something similar to their initial slugfest, an action-packed “Fight of the Year” candidate that was televised by ESPN2.
“He’s a guy that puts pressure [on you] a lot,” Rodriguez, 31, said. “He likes to stay on top of you. How do you keep someone off of you? You’ve got to let those combinations go and hit him hard, so it definitely makes for a good fight.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com.