The three judges gave Pawel “Raging Bull” Wolak all 10 rounds in his battle against Troy Browning at the Aviator Sports and Recreation Center in Brooklyn, New York, on Saturday, May 17. The victory not only improved Wolak’s record to 21-1 (14 KOS), it also garnered him the WBC USNBC interim super welterweight title.
The scoring was deceptive because the fight was competitive for every minute of every round. The give and take action brought the crowd to its feet on many occasions.
Wolak, a native of Poland who fights out of New Jersey, kept moving forward and never stopped punching. Browning, 20-1-1 (8 KOS), of Philadelphia, counter-punched beautifully and made Wolak work very hard to win what on paper looks like a lopsided decision. Truth be told, it was anything but lopsided.
“It was a great fight,” said Jill Diamond, who supervised the bout for the WBC. “The Browning camp was not happy with the scoring, but it was an extremely competitive fight and Pawel seemed to do just a little bit more each round. The fight was so good, it’s a shame that someone had to lose.”
The entire seven bout card, which was promoted by Thomas Gallagher Productions in association with Sal Musemeci’s Final Forum, was stellar. But the main event was one for the ages.
With scores of Wolak’s friends and family members rooting him on, the Raging Bull lived up to his nickname by never taking a backward step. It was a very professional fight, with no showboating and neither participant ever displaying any signs of fatigue. At the bout’s finale the 600 or so in attendance rose to their feet in unison and cheered wildly.
Wolak’s manager, Ivan Edwards, looked relieved because although Wolak was winning round after round, Browning made it clear that he was never going to give up.
Wolak’s trainer, Patrick Ford, who challenged both Eusebio Pedroza and Salvador Sanchez for their featherweight titles in the early 1980s, was also pleased.
“Pawel is a very good fighter, and he fought well tonight,” he asserted. “But there is always room for improvement.”
Wolak has been creating quite a buzz in New York boxing circles. On March 15 he stopped Dupre Strickland, who had taken John Duddy the 10 round distance. While he didn’t stop Browning, he still showed that he is a force to be reckoned with.
A future bout between him and James Moore, 15-0 (10 KOS), the native of County Wicklow, Ireland, who fights out of Queens, New York, would be a barnburner. Both fighters have stated they would like to fight each other, but want to do it when it most benefits their careers.
Why should one knock the other off on a small club show? The fact is a bout between Moore and Wolak would be ideally suited for ShoBox: The New Generation or HBO’s Boxing After Dark, especially if the networks would be willing to do a New York-themed broadcast. Because Moore and Wolak are from countries with huge immigrant populations residing in the Big Apple, they are about as New York as it gets.
It is hard to imagine a more exciting matchup of undefeated young prospects at any weight.
In a sensational lead-in to the main event, George “Blaze” Walton, who was the subject of the 1999 Academy Award nominated documentary film “On the Ropes,” returned to the ring after a four year hiatus and got more than he bargained for from former world champion Carl Daniels of St. Louis.
The extremely muscular and talented Walton, who is now 34, improved his record to 17-3 (11 KOS) by wining a hard-earned and well-deserved decision over Daniels, now 50-13-1 (32 KOS).
“It seems like a very long time since the movie was made, and since I’ve been in the ring,” said Walton, a onetime amateur sensation who in the film had expressed disenchantment with the politics associated with the pro game.
On this night, however, there was no disenchantment and it looked as if his broad, beaming smile would never leave his face.
“He was a tough guy and I might have underestimated him,” added Daniels. “I thought I’d knock him out early, but he was here to fight. This is the kind of fight I needed to get back in the groove. It’s great to be back.”
Asked what kept him so occupied, Walton cited, among other things, “life, marriage and work.” He currently works as a personal trainer at a mixed martial arts and jujitsu academy.
Harry Keitt, his amateur trainer who was also a major subject in the movie, said he was glad to see Walton back in the ring and looking so happy and fresh. But he believed that the selection of Daniels for a first fight back was a mistake.
“It was a good win, but the wrong opponent,” opined Keitt. “I wouldn’t have taken a southpaw and I wouldn’t have taken a guy with so much experience. It looks good that George beat him, but the name of the game is to hit and not get hit. I’d rather see George ease back into the game with a few easier fights.”
In other bouts, all of which were competitive:
Martin Wright W 4 Damon Antoine, welterweights.
Mike Ruiz W 6 Robert Jones, welterweights.
Joe Hanks TKO 2 Ali Malik, heavyweights.
Khabir Suleymanov TKO 4 Omar Carroll, bantamweights.
Chris Algieri W 4 Jeradiaei Figueroa.
With exciting young prospects like Wright, Ruiz, Suleymanov and Algieri coming up through the ranks, the local boxing scene in New York is alive and well.