Sherdog.com reports that former junior middleweight contender Pawel Wolak has ended his short retirement, but won't be coming back to boxing. The Polish-born brawler will be trying his hand in mixed martial arts, with his eyes on an eventual run in the UFC.
Wolak announced his retirement just a few days after losing his rematch with Delvin Rodriguez last December, a fight featured on the Cotto vs Margarito undercard. Wolak and Rodriguez had engaged in the Fight of the Year five months earlier, but their second bout was considered something of a disappointment, as though it was a fine fight, it was nowhere near the original encounter.
Wolak says his background in wrestling and kickboxing will give him a leg up as he enters a new combat field:
"My background was as a successful New Jersey state wrester and kickboxer, so I am going back to my roots," Wolak told Sherdog.com. "... I will get to the UFC when I am ready to make a statement in the lightweight division. I am not going to jump in right away, but only when I know I can become champion. I have been training since December. Nobody will want to stand up with me, so I am working really hard on the ground game."
Monte Cox, who will manage Wolak's MMA career, says he's confident that Pawel can succeed:
"Pawel is unique in that he is in the prime of his career,. He can stay in boxing and make a great living, but he has always had a love for MMA and he wants to see how well he can do while he is at his best. It’s nothing like some of the other boxers switching over when their best days are behind them.”
Wolak, 30, ran up a career record of 29-2-1 (19 KO) in boxing, and was definitely known far more for his incredibly rugged style, his hard chin, and his unbelievable determination than he was for his great boxing technique. I don't have any clue how good his wrestling was years ago, or how good his kickboxing was, or how good he can get at either these days.
I do know this: Pawel Wolak is a born fighter. Truly. The man has no quit in him, a great drive to succeed, and I wouldn't count him out of making something of himself in MMA. I'm dubious about anyone switching sports at age 30 and becoming a real factor, but someone with a fighting spirit and a heart like Wolak, I can never totally write them off.
I wish him all the best. I hope he makes it, makes some good money, and achieves his goals. There's nothing I don't like about Pawel Wolak, and I'd love to see him beat the odds and make a serious run in mixed martial arts.