UFC Bound? Polish-American Boxer Turns to MMAWritten by Lee Cleveland
On Wednesday night at the annual Boxing Writers Association of America dinner in New York, former jr middleweight contender Pawel Wolak announced he's transitioning to MMA.
A year ago, the Polish-American brawler etched himself in boxing lore by taking part in what became the FightSaga and The RING's Fight of the Year for 2011 against Delvin Rodriguez.
The bout, which was televised live on ESPN, finished in a draw.
Wolak retired from boxing shortly after losing the rematch with Rodriguez in December but had already cemented his place in boxing history, forever leaving a treasured moment on that mid-summer's night last year.
But less than 60 days after his retiring from boxing, the New Jersey-based tough guy hinted fans would see him fight again - in a ring or octagon.
Pawel wrote on Facebook in early February:
"As it got on to Twitter today, there is truth to me fighting again but not sure if in the ring or octagon as was the plan when I retired. I don't know much right now and cannot say much as it relates to MMA opportunities because of my boxing contract. It's ongoing discussions as it relates to my contract with my boxing promoter. More news as I get it."
Wolak, who has purportedly been training in MMA since December, hopes to establish himself as a top-tier mixed martial artist and is targeting eventual acceptance in the sport's most respected MMA organization, UFC.
A jr middleweight (154 lb limit) in boxing, the pugilist-turned-mixed martial artist would be a lightweight (limit 155 lb limit) in MMA. And fortunately or unfortunately for Wolak, UFC's talent-rich lightweight division is perhaps its most competitive.
"My background was as a successful New Jersey state wrestler and kickboxer, so I am going back to my roots," Wolak told Sherdog.com.
How Serious is Wolak?
The former jr middleweight contender is being handled by Monte Cox, a MMA manager who has guided a handful of former UFC champions.
Cox told Sherdog.com:
"It isn't often a guy comes along with the fighting credentials of Pawel Wolak. I'm thrilled to have the chance to help take him to the level in MMA that he reached in boxing. Without a doubt, he can be a UFC champion.
Wolak, who graduated from Berkeley College in midtown Manhattan in 2004 with a degree in business, has a 29-2-1 record as a boxer with 19 wins coming via knockout. He is known for his durable chin, inside fighting ability and aggression.
Pawel's biggest win came on March 12, 2011 when he stopped Yuri Foreman, a former jr middleweight world champion, in six rounds.