His trainer, an old timer who all agree knows his craft, and worked with Hector Camacho, declares that Steve Bujaj, who fights tonight in Brooklyn, is the best cruiserweight in NYC, and beyond that, the best prospect in the region.
That's some endorsement from Billy Giles.
I am not prepared to sign off on that possibly overly optimistic bit of hyperbole, but it does leave me that much more curious about the fighter born in Albania, who moved to the Empire State with mom and dad at six months old. Bujaj (10-0 with 7 KOs), who grew up in the Bronx and now lives in Yonkers, scraps for the NY State cruiserweight title against 6-2-1 Elvin Sanchez (living in Paterson, NJ), a quite competent hitter coming off an upset win of a 13-0 prospect. It probably says something, too, that veteran advisor Don Majeski works with Bujaj...
Bujaj, who turns 24 in June, told me he grew up sparring, as his uncle liked to lace gloves on him and mess around. He got more serious at 15, and won the NY Golden Gloves at 201 (Open Class) in 2009 and 2010.
Bujaj begged off when asked if he thinks he has more to offer than Camacho, but showed ample confidence in his skills. "I'm not the guy to come out say that, but I do believe I'm the best prospect in New York, and the best cruiserweight in the world."
Come again? Best in the whole, wide world?
"Most definitely," he reiterated, while noting he got stellar sparring helping Lucian Bute get ready for Jean Pascal last month. He said if you put him in with titlists Krzysztof Wlordarczyk (WBC), Denis Lebedev (WBA), Yoan Hernandez (IBF) and Marco Huck (WBO), he'll get the better of them.
"Line em up," he said. "I need a couple eight and ten rounders, but I can beat any of these guys."
I like that; the kid is putting it out there, walking on a high wire of confidence. He knows he needs to back up those bold words. Let's see what Sanchez has to say about that, though, on a card promoted by Dmitriy Salita at the Millenium Theater in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn.
Disclosure: The writer will be working the analyst slot at the Salita card, for a TV broadcast to be show on deay, on Universal Sports Network.
Email story ideas to Woods at MJWoods99@aol.com
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV