When fans assess the upcoming weekend’s slate of bouts, it’s unlikely that a heavyweight clash between a 6-foot-7 and 6-foot-9 fighter will jump out as being the must-see action fight of the weekend.
In recent years, the heaviest of weight classes has been stamped with the “boring” label by boxing experts. THE RING has awarded its Fight of the Year award to a heavyweight bout just twice since 1978, both to an undersized heavyweight, Evander Holyfield, for his bouts against Mike Tyson and Riddick Bowe. The majority of winners have come from divisions south of welterweight.
However, heavyweight contender Mariusz Wach, who faces fellow gargantuan Tye “Big Sky” Fields on Integrated Sports PPV this Saturday, has a different taste.
“The heavyweight division is not boring and it never will be,” insists Wach. “When two big guys meet inside the ring with the goal to knock each other out, it can’t be boring.”
Wach, 32, has some data to back up his theory. The Polish-born North Bergen, N.J., resident consistently fights in front of solid crowds, including one expected at the Resorts Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City on Saturday. His appearances are on independent pay-per-view in North America, but almost all of them have been broadcast internationally on Polsat.
Clearly, someone is tuning in.
And when they have, recently they’ve seen something other than the cliché robotic European big man. “The Viking” has had six consecutive conquests by knockout, and two of them—over Christian Hammer and Kevin McBride—have been Knockout of the Year contenders. (This writer personally nominated the McBride starching.)
Riding that momentum and fan support, Wach (26-0, 14 knockouts) was offered a spot on ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights this weekend against former Olympian Jason Estrada.
Estrada had recently given Wach’s countryman Tomasz Adamek more difficulty than expected, avoiding exchanges on the inside and using his boxing acumen to go the distance with him. So the Pole and his promoters at Global Boxing made a bold decision to turn down the television offer and opt for an independent promotion against a different fighter.
Wach says a fight with Estrada wouldn’t have been the most compelling television.
“I think Tye is much more dangerous fighter. This fight should be a great show for the audience, definitely more spectacular than a fight with Estrada,” Wach told RingTV.com
Whether Fields is a more challenging assignment for him is certainly up for debate. The transplanted Canadian giant throws almost exclusively power shots, and is looking for a firefight. But therein lies Wach’s reasoning for choosing him. While Fields (49-4, 44 KOs) will never be mistaken for Jimmy Ellis, his vulnerability and left hand that could knock anyone in the planet unconscious make his fights compelling, regardless of their usual brevity.
Wach himself is an avid boxing consumer, particularly of his fellow heavyweights, but he isn’t a fan of watching his own work.
“I’m a perfectionist and I always know what I did wrong, right after the fight I analyze all the mistakes that I’ve done. I don’t like to watch my fights over and over again, however my trainer always makes me,” said Wach, who prefers to watch tape of his opponents, upcoming or prospective. “You can always learn something new watching different fighters in action. You notice their mistakes and often realize that you do the same thing and that you have to eliminate it.”
Currently on his DVR is a pair of the most recent heavyweight title bouts involving Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko, either of whom he aims to face by next year.
Unfortunately, Wladimir’s latest bout is one of the outliers in his hypothesis that all heavyweight bouts are exciting.
“There was no fight between Klitschko and Mormeck,” Wach joked. “Mormeck lost before he even walked into the ring. Klitschko-Chisora was very interesting from the first seconds, to the very end of the fight. Chisora is one of few fighters who actually managed to dominate (a) Klitschko in the ring. They are both tough fighters.”
Before facing either of the Ukranian brothers, Wach specifically notes Alexander Povetkin, Tyson Fury, Robert Helenius and Alexander Dimitrenko as desired opponents.
Against Fields, he hopes to follow a similar blueprint, and the one used by Michael Grant in his recent victory over “Big Sky”: Be patient, and you’ll give the fans what they want.
“Grant was waiting patiently during two rounds for Fields to make a mistake and he finally got him in the third round. I will try to do the same – try not to get hit in the first two rounds, stay away from his heavy right hand, and then…we will see,” said Wach.
Photo / Emily Harney-Fightwireimages.com
Corey Erdman is also the host of RingTV Radio. Follow him on Twitter @corey_erdman