Mike Coppinger

Hard-working Wolak takes on Rodriguez as he closes in on big fight

Pawel Wolak is finally on the cusp of the big fights – the kind of high-profile encounters he’s always dreamed about.

With an impressive performance against veteran Delvin Rodriguez at the Roseland Ballroom in New York on Friday (9 p.m. ET, ESPN 2), THE RING's No. 8-rated junior middleweight will be primed for a noteworthy fight on the PPV undercard of the rematch between Antonio Margarito and Miguel Cotto, slated for Dec. 3.

The Mount Arlington, New Jersey-based pressure-fighter, originally from Poland, crashed the boxing scene in August of 2008, headlining a ShoBox card against Ishe Smith in Brooklyn, N.Y. It was a fight Wolak (29-1, 19 KOs) was expected to win, but he ran into problems with Smith’s slick style and sharp punching, dropping a close 10-round decision for his first professional defeat.

Since the setback, the fighter known as “The Raging Bull”, for his all-out pressure style, has worked tirelessly to improve at his craft. The hard work paid dividends this past March, when he notched his career-best victory, a six round domination of top-10 contender Yuri Foreman.

Wolak relentlessly-pressured Foreman from the opening bell, wearing down his foe, leading to Foreman retiring on his stool after the sixth round. Wolak won every round on all three cards, an impressive feat considering the problems Foreman gave Cotto in 2010.

The 29-year-old Wolak points to many contributing factors to his continued development since the loss to Smith.

“Not only just from training camp, how to get my body ready to be in the best shape it possibly can before for the fight, but just a combination of getting your body to the best possible form to improved training, meaning a whole new corner with Tommy Brooks and “Terrific” [Aroz Gist],” said Wolak, who trains at Global Boxing Gym in North Bergen, N.J. “Getting older, wiser, and more physical, stronger and better conditioning. All those things combined have helped me to improve since my loss to Ishe.”

Wolak, unlike many other world-class fighters, has a full-time day job – he’s a construction worker in New York City.

“Of course it’s very tough … work is very physical, it’s very hard,” said Wolak, a 2004 business graduate of Berkeley College in midtown Manhattan. “Going from brickwork to roofing to putting up scaffolds, it’s very tough, physical work. It’s hard to find time, but I do it.

“My boss actually gives me six or seven weeks off for each fight. I’m in the gym almost every day, even when I do work regular. But if I have a definite fight set, I take off from work and focus strictly on the boxing and then we start regular camp.”

Before Wolak can make it to the television slot on the Margarito-Cotto 2 card, though, he has to impress on Friday against Rodriguez, something that isn’t lost on the former two-time New York Golden Gloves finalist.

“Obviously, with Delvin, this is a very important fight, I gotta look good, I have to impress, I have to win,” said Wolak. “I’d love to be involved one way or another [with the Margarito-Cotto 2 card], what’s going to happen obviously depends on what’s going to happen this Friday.

“It’s going to be a tough fight, Delvin is a tough opponent.  I expect the best from him.”

With a few big wins, Wolak may be able to quit his full-time construction job and ply his craft as a pugilist ‘round the clock.

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