NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 03: Pawel Wolak (R) of the United States lands a right handed punch against Delvin Rodriguez of the United States during their IBA Intercontinental Junior Middleweight Title fight at Madison Square Garden on December 3, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Pawel Wolak has a well earned reputation as one of the most exciting boxers in recent memory. All heart and guts in the ring, Wolak retired from boxing last December following his loss to Delvin Rodriguez on the undercard of Miguel Cotto's rematch with Antonio Margarito. The first Wolak vs. Rodriguez bout was named 2011 fight of the year by Bad Left Hook readers as well as winning the same award from the Boxing Writers Association of America and certainly deserved the honor as it was a beautifully violent and gutsy showing from both men.
Not the kind of man to sit around and do nothing, Wolak is going to try his hand at mixed martial arts with a long-term goal of getting to the UFC. Via Sherdog:
"My background was as a successful New Jersey state wrester and kickboxer, so I am going back to my roots," Wolak told Sherdog.com. "Monte, [longtime advisor] Howard Horowitz and I will lay out the strategy. I will get to the UFC when I am ready to make a statement in the lightweight division. I am not going to jump in right away, but only when I know I can become champion. I have been training since December. Nobody will want to stand up with me, so I am working really hard on the ground game. I will visit camps with Monte and Howard as we get closer to making a run at this thing."
Wolak doesn't appear to be taking things lightly either.
He's being managed by Monte Cox who is getting him training with people who can actually raise his game. As evidenced by this tweet from Pawel this morning:
Working on the ground with Igor Gracie is a good first step. But Wolak is also working with Jim Miller and Constantinos Philippou. Say what you will about Cox, but he has the contacts to get Pawel working with guys that can teach him valuable lessons.
Wolak did add that he fell into boxing while training for MMA and just never went back because of how well he had done in boxing.
He's fought at 154-160 for his entire career so I can't see him ending up anywhere other than lightweight.
I'm going to get a little sappy for a minute and say that I'll be rooting for Wolak to actually make a legitimate run in MMA. It's going to be a rough transition, but he's working with the right guys and understands how to build a career and not rush things too much. At 30, he's not exactly young enough to take the slowest road possible. But no one gives more of himself in a ring or a cage than Wolak, he's got heart for days and the kind of will that is near impossible to break.
In short, he's got exactly the kind of mentality to actually make this work.