Pawel Wolak, known as “The Raging Bull” for his rugged, in-your-face style in the ring, told RingTV.com that he aims to transition into mixed martial arts before the end of 2012.
Wolak (29-2-1, knockouts) announced his retirement from boxing on Dec. 8, just five days after his unanimous decision loss to Delvin Rodriguez at New York’s Madison Square Garden in a rematch of their majority draw in July.
Although he still has an existing managerial contract with Cameron Dunkin and promoter Bob Arum, Wolak said that he plans to allow that commitment to expire in October before taking his fight experience and background as a high school wrestler into mixed martial arts.
A 30-year-old, married father who splits his time as a construction worker and roofer, Wolak rode an unbeaten streak of 8-0-1, with five knockouts into his return bout with Rodriguez (26-5-3, 14 KOs).
Rodriguez-Wolak I was selected Fight of The Year by the Boxing Writers Association of America, with both fighters delivering fierce, all-action efforts.
Wolak fought the entire second half of the fight while peering through severely cut and swollen eyes, the right side of his face marred by a hematoma the size of a ripe grapefruit.
Wolak’s biggest career victory came in March under former manager Ivan Edwards, when the New Jersey pressure fighter scored a sixth-round stoppage of former WBA 154-pound titleholder Yuri Foreman. Prior to that, Wolak rose from a second-round knockdown to stop Jose Pinzon in the seventh round in December.
Wolak spoke more about his future in this Q&A:
RingTV.com: What is your status in boxing?
Pawel Wolak: Well, I am under contract with Top Rank until October. I have a Top Rank promotional contract and a managerial contract with Cameron Dunkin. I’m not really worried about any of them standing in my way or anything.
That’s because I am retired and I would pretty much like to be done with boxing. I would like to be released and go on to MMA. I still love boxing, and I still spar. But my whole goal was, even before I was ever in boxing, was that I was trying to learn how to fight for MMA.
The reason that I started kickboxing and boxing was to learn how to fight under the mixed martial arts. That’s the reason why I did it. Then, it kind of just took off. I fought as an amateur and I turned professional, and then I kept getting bigger and better and I stuck with it.
RingTV.com: When were you going to make the transition?
PW: I told myself that when I was 30 years old, that I wanted to be done with boxing and to go on to MMA anyway.
It’s got to make sense. It’s got to be a major fight that would make me go back to boxing. If not, then I’m just going to wait it out and go into the MMA.
RingTV.com: Are you still working out?
PW: Yes, I’m already training. Ever since December. I’ve been in the gym for a while now.
RingTV.com: Where are you training?
PW: I still train as a boxer, and that’s major. That keeps me in shape. I go and box four times a week. But the other two days, it depends. I go to numerous gyms and do a lot of training at those places.
Once I get done with boxing, though, that’s what I want to do. I definitely want to go out there and fight MMA. I definitely want to try it.
RingTV.com: You mean MMA training?
PW: Yes. They use open mats. Takedowns, stuff like that. I’ve been doing that a little bit. I’ve got a very solid wrestling background. Even to this day, in straight wrestling, I can hold my own with almost anybody. But with Jiu-Jitsu, it’s different because you’re almost doing everything the opposite of wrestling.
The things that you do in Jiu-Jitsu, a lot of that is a no-no in wrestling. The body positioning, fighting off your back, that’s a huge no-no in wrestling. You don’t ever want to be on your back in wrestling. It’s a difference in how you turn in, how you put pressure on, how you get into certain positions in scrambles.
There are just a lot of differences to be sorted out. There are numerous, numerous moves which, as a wrestler, you would be doing different things as opposed to what you would do in Jiu-Jitsu.
RingTV.com: Your wrestling was mostly done in high school in New Jersey, correct?
PW: In Jersey, we have the super regions. I never won the super regions, which is the tournament right before states, and wrestling is huge in New Jersey.
So you have counties, districts and then regions and then super regions and finally states. I’ve always placed at counties and districts, and I’ve always placed in regions.
I never won counties or districts or regions, but I was always second or third, something like that. You had to place in districts first, second or third to go on to regions.
Same thing to go on to super regions. I wrestled 152, 160 and 171. I was way under-sized when I wrestled 171. That wasn’t really my weight class.
RingTV.com: How would you characterize your style as a wrestler?
PW: I was definitely a takedown guy. That was my thing. I was a shooter. I was always very good on my feet. And off bottom, also. I could escape well also. That was not a problem.
If I took a guy down, for instance, a lot of times, I might ride him for a little bit and get him a little bit tired and then let him go. Then I would shoot on him again and take him down again.
So if my past background as a boxer will help me out in the UFC, then that’s great, you know what I mean?
But I’m not stupid. I’m not opposed to starting out at a lower level and then try to get into the cage and see what it’s like at first.
Photo by Chris Farina, Top Rank
Photo by Ed Diller, Star Boxing
Photo by Chris Farina, Top Rank
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com