(Chris Farina) In the top support bout to the Miguel Cotto-Ricardo Mayorga feature attraction, Brooklyn's Yuri Foreman didn't come out for round seven, giving Pawel Wolak his career best win in a 154 pound showdown at the MGM Grand.
Wolak was in Foreman's face from the moment he entered the building, landing rights over a low left, and was running up points on the cards. The ref stopped the fight on advice of the corner, Jimmy Lennon said, and it leaves folks wondering if Foreman has the desire to keep at this most dangerous game. He wasn't getting destroyed by any means, and while things didn't look upbeat for him, the situation wasn't looking hopeless.
Jim Gray talked to Wolak after. The Pole/Jerseyite said he trained super hard, and that he was helped by Brooks' presence, as well as his superior sparring. He said he wanted a title shot next, maybe against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Foreman then told Gray, "I'm OK, I'm OK..so many things happened since the last fight, I didn't feel like myself tonight." The knee didn't bother him, he said, but the long layoff didn't help him. He said he will take a break, and think things over.
Wolak (age 29; works in construction; 154 pounds; 28-1 with 18 KOs entering; No. 7 WBA), a Pole living in New Jersey, entered with a record. His trainer Tommy Brooks used to train Foreman. Brooks yelled, "Gonna bleed tonight, Yuri" as the staredown/touch of gloves ended. He was referring to his left eye, which was cut during training, and was still red.
Foreman (age 30; born in Belarus, lived in Israel; 28-1-1ND with just 8 KOs entering; ex WBA 154 pound champion ) weighed 155 on Friday. He was testing his right knee, which got torn up in his bout with Miguel Cotto last summer, and required surgery. Trainer was supposed to be working with Al Certo but Al couldn't make it, due to medical reasons. Pedro Saiz subbed in.
In the first, Foreman's knee looked OK. He was as mobile as ever, as he stuck and move. Wolak was same old Wolak, in his face, letting him know he had garlic during lunch.
In the second, Wolak kept in Yuri's grill. Foreman did clip the Pole, and slip away at times, but he also ate leather from the determined plugger.
In the third, we had to wonder what the judges would see. Would they appreciate Foreman's move and hit style, or reward Wolak's aggressiveness? An overhand right, over Yuri's low left, hit home for the Pole. Foreman moved less in this round, not sure by design or by necessity, or fatigue, or what.
In the fourth, Foreman's legs played a bigger part early. But as the minutes ticked down, the action was infighting, and that favored Wolak.
In the fifth, Foreman had better luck striking from a distance more conducive to his arsenal. But Wolak wouldn't be persuaded to back up, and his right hand was dialed in.
In the sixth, we saw Wolak's left eye looking worse. A left hand knocked out Yuri's mouthpiece. But that didn't put him off. Was Foreman aware that he was probably down on the cards? No matter, he didn't come out for the seventh.
Baltimore Raven Tommy Z (193 pounds; Notre Dame graduate) met nutritionist Rich Bryant (225 pounds) in a heavyweight bout scheduled for four or less. The NFLer Zbikowski, the day after the NFL went into lockout mode, entered the ring with a 1-0 record. He has said he believes when all is said and done he will be remembered as a boxer, not a football player. A body shot with 1:25 left sent Bryant down. He got up, and wanted to continue, but the ref said no mas for him. It was a left hook to the solar plexus that felled the game but green Bryant. By the way, Steve Albert agreed with the folks who booed, insinuating that Bryant went down easy. I have to disagree; the shot looked like it was perfectly placed against a man whose body said he didn't live the spartan existence in getting ready for this event.
Mayorga kept on working the masterful trash talking til the very last moment. He called Cotto "vulgar," and said he didn't like him when queried by Jim Gray in his dressing room about an hour before his bout began. Cotto said to Gray he had surgery on his right shoulder last year, and he was looking forward to having a 100% shoulder at his disposal. Cotto told Gray Mayorga hasn't gotten under his skin with all his mudslinging prior to fightnight.
Bob Arum, breaking out in a wide grin, told Gray that on "our 100th birthday we (he and Don King) want to co-promote."
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Check back for David Avila's ringside report.