Former WBA junior middleweight beltholder Yuri Foreman will be ending a nearly two-year absence when the Brooklyn resident returns to the ring against Brandon Baue, of Troy, Mo., at the BB King Blues Club and Grill in Manhattan on Jan. 23.
A rabbinical student who was born in Gomel, Belarus, the 32-year-old Foreman (28-2, 8 knockouts) has lost his last two fights by knockout in the ninth and sixth rounds to Miguel Cotto and Pawel Wolak, respectively, in June of 2010 and March of 2011.
The loss to Cotto dethroned Foreman, formerly promoted by Top Rank, as WBA titleholder, this, long after Foreman dethroned Puerto Rico’s Daniel Santos in November of 2009 for the belt.
In doing so, Foreman became the first Israeli to win a world boxing title, whose first name, in English translation is “George,” not to mention the first soon-to-be Rabbi to do so.
The Jewish Sabbath runs from sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday, and Foreman, does not fight on the Sabbath due to his faith.
The months leading up to Foreman’s last period in the ring were an emotional roller coaster for the fighter.
After losing to Cotto in June of 2010, Foreman watched his wife, Leyla, give birth to a six-pound, 12-ounce son in August of that same year.
In October of that year, Foreman experienced the death of his long-time manager, Murray Wilson, of a heart attack at the age of 74 before suffering the sixth-round stoppage loss to Wolak in his last bout.
In this Q&A with RingTV.com, Foreman discusses his past, his life as a father, his quest to become a Rabbi, his fight with Baue (12-8, 10 KOs) and his new association with promoter, Lou DiBella, among other things.
RingTV.com: Since you are now a father, how is family?
Yuri Foreman: It’s the best thing ever, being a father. It’s definitely an awesome experience. My son’s name Lev, and he’s two years old and, like, five months. He’s into everything. He is multi-tasking, and he’s very, very busy.
RingTV.com: Does it help you with your footwork, having to chase him?
YF: It’s challenging. It’s definitely building up my endurance on many levels. After training, taking him out and chasing him. Plus, he’s a boy, and he wants to wrestle me and to fight me.
RingTV.com: Does he have a concept of what you do?
YF: I think that he does. I think that he does have a concept. My wife has a boxing trophy in the house, and every time he looks at it, he says, “Poppa, Poppa,” and then he boxes, and throws his fists around.
RingTV.com: So you have a date, Jan. 23, and what do you know of opponent?
YF: The date is Jan. 23, eight days away, and it’s going to be at BB Kings on 42nd street in Manhattan. My opponent is Brandon Baue. I don’t know much about him.
But I’ve been really concentrating on myself, to be the best that I can. I want to get myself into top shame and concentrate on what I do best.
I just want to be ready for whatever the other guy brings in. I just want to just concentrate on that, because I’ve also been almost two years away from the ring.
RingTV.com: What weight class will you compete in?
YF: I’ll be at 154, as unusual. Junior middleweight. I actually didn’t put on any weight. Just normal and the same comfortable weight that I’ve been.
RingTV.com: Who is your trainer now?
YF: Yes, Joe Greer is the head trainer, and the assistant trainer is Pedro Saiz. I’m training in two gyms. One is Gleeson’s Gym, and one is Joe Greer’s Boxing Academy in Paterson, N.J.
RingTV.com: What is your vision for the rest of your career?
YF: My thinking is as every boxer, they don’t really have a schedule for the next year. It’s pretty much always one fight at a time. But my goal is to get another crack at the title.
My dream is to become a world champion again. So this is it. And, of course, with the time off, now, I want to see where I’m at, and how I feel. I want to shed the ring rust and see what’s out there.
RingTV.com: Are you working with a promoter now?
YF: Yes, Lou DiBella and it’s a Lou DiBella card. He’s promoting the next fight. I will probably be with him and stay with him.
RingTV.com: Will you miss the guidance of Murray Wilson?
YF: After Murray, you know, it was a big impact on me. I had been just pretty much, after that, taking time off, especially after the Pawel Wolak fight. I figured that I needed to recharge my batteries.
You know, now, I am probably going to have another manager who I’m comfortable with. I may be also a partner with someone else.
There are going to be two of us. I’m not yet going to reveal his name, just because I didn’t sign a contract. But I’m probably going to have a new manager. That’s about all that I would like to say.
YF: Boxing is my day job, and the rabbinical studies, I’ve been doing for so long, and right now, I’m actually in the last stages of completing them.
I really hope that maybe in two months that maybe I’m going to be done with it, and when I’m done, it’s not a signal to stop my boxing career.
I’m going to still continue, because being an observant Jew or a Rabbi and boxing, that doesn’t contradict my ideas at least.
Photo by Chris Farina, Top Rank
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com