Wolak is a volume guy, with an above average chin. He's a rough diamond in the Top Rank stable. (Chris Farina)
The mere fact that boxing entails you keep the other guy from knocking your head off your neck makes it the hardest sport to master. But there are other things that separate boxing from lesser athletic endeavors. Take for instance the fact that in boxing, eight times out of ten, even a highly regarded professional with title-shot capability needs to work a 9 to 5 job, to make ends meet, until the proverbial ship comes in.
New Jersey's Pawel Wolak has worked a construction job full-time for the last two years. At the end of the day, when guys like him are looking forward to kicking their boots off, and cracking a cold one while kicking back in the easy chair, the 29-year-old Wolak pauses only to strip put of his overalls, and put on his workout gear. After a day spent doing brickwork, doing scaffolds, real heavy duty construction work, Wolak switches gear into pugilist mode. And if he does sigh, and if he is sometimes tempted to blow off his "second job," he only has to think about his wife, and his two year old son, and he snaps back into focus. Because junior middleweight Wolak wants a title crack, at a Cornelius Bundrage, or a Miguel Cotto, but he needs to pay the bills for shelter and sustenance until that bigtime opportunity arrives.
"I want to build on my popularity, I want to be seen, I want fans," he told me in a phoner during some free time which was made available because it was raining, and the gang at Adams European Construction had the day off.
Wolak won some new fans with a solid showing against Yuri Foreman on March 12; his constant pressure forced Foreman's corner to advise their fight to stay on his stool after six rounds. He wants to add to his fan club with another scrap, possibly against 25-5 Delvin Rodriguez, day and site TBD, with July 15 looking like a likely date. "I think that's a good fight," he said. "I don't want to take step back. On paper, I should win. He's had a few losses, and me coming off a win. I've been winning lately." Indeed; Wolak has won eight in a row since he lost to Ishe Smith (UD10) in August 2008. If those two were to meet today, to be frank, I'd like Wolak, because it feels like he's made a leap, put things together. He agrees.
The fighter said he picked up boxing late, after wrestling in high school. He started training at 19, and after a solid apprenticeship, he feels in his bones that his time is now. He told me that he's been catching everyone he's sparred with for awhile now. He's more so mastered walking people down, closing the distance, using his stamina to solid effect. "That's just the way I fight," he said. "I could try and be more refined, but that's my temperment. I'm just going to fight every second of every round. I'm 29 now. I've become a man. I know how to train now. I've always been tough, now it's coming together. Mentally and physically I'm good."--
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV