I haven’t yet met the person.
If the person is you, poke me virtually and tell me that you think Sebastian Formella, a 33-year-old German fighter, will upset Shawn Porter on Saturday night in Los Angeles (FOX, 8 pm ET).
I will wait...
In the meantime, I reached out to Formella, who holds a 22-0 record, and looked to get a better sense if he feels he can write up a short chapter in the big book of boxing’s theater of the unexpected, and defeat the 30-3-1 Porter.
People in America tend to underestimate a fighter if they have not seen them, I told Formella, who last fought Jan. 18, downing Roberto Arriaza.
He is seen as a heavy underdog, I told him. Does that make him a bit angry?
“The American audience has the great luck to get great fighters and strong fights,” Formella said. “I don’t feel badly treated just because the experts and fans say that it is an unequal duel. That’s OK, everybody has his own opinion. I will give my all in this fight and maybe one or the other will say after the fight, ‘The boy has heart, he has made a great fight.’ I am not here to lose and I will do everything to win. And maybe to convince the American boxing fans of me and my abilities!”
Formella, the most youthful-looking 33 you will see, was born in Poland and moved to Germany as a toddler. He has one brother, Patrick, who usually works his corner but won’t this time, because fighters are allowed fewer corner staff during the pandemic period.
Sebastian started fighting as a teen, so yes, he’s got some seasoning, even though he doesn’t have any bold face names on his resume.
“I started boxing when I was 15,” Formella said. “Before that I was an artistic gymnast. I was always a very hyperactive child, so my parents (put me into) sport at an early age, so that I could work out. When I was 15, my friend took me to boxing and I stuck with it. During this time I also met my current coach, Mark Haupt.”
Formella had done about 150 amateur fights, finished third in the German Championships and won the North German Championships several times, but didn’t commit to fighting as a pro. He did an apprenticeship as a crane operator in the port of Hamburg, then in his mid-20s, switched to the professional ranks of prizefighting.
To ready himself for Porter, who turns 33 on Oct. 27, Formella went to Istanbul to get work.
“As Europeans are currently not allowed to enter the states from Europe, the detour via Istanbul was necessary,” said the hitter allied with EC Boxpromotion, headed by Erol Ceylan. “We were on site for 15 days and had a very intensive sparring phase at high temperatures.
And has COVID affected him beyond that choice in training?
“Unfortunately, there is no getting around the subject,” he said. “After my fight in January I actually wanted to do at least two, if not three more fights (this year), and then came corona. It is terrible. And of course as an athlete it’s not easy to keep your focus and motivate yourself when it’s not clear when you’re going to get into the ring next time. But I have always been very disciplined and tried to keep routine in training. I hope that we as a society will survive this pandemic together and maybe once again think about our neighbors before we think about ourselves.”
Porter last fought Sept. 28 of last year, taking on Errol Spence, and giving a superb account of himself against the Texan. We were curious — does Formella regard Porter as being his stiffest test on paper, as being much better possibly than anyone he has faced?
“Not just on paper,” Formella answered. “He’s one of the absolute world leaders at welterweight. He was a great amateur and he boxed everybody. Even his defeats were always close fights. I have great respect for him, but don’t worry. I grow with my duties and I have always said that I will face any duel. When the call came from my promoter, I immediately accepted without knowing the details.”
My Three Cents: On tape, I see some things to like about Formella. You do see evidence of seasoning. He’s not stiff, you see him move, he can slip well and counter. He’s also aggressive at times, maybe more than you’d expect for someone with a modest KO percentage. I could see Porter’s cut-off linebacker stature and strength being troubling for Formella, who is built more like a cornerback. He’s not a one-and-done type, he will pile up a one-two, then finish with a hook. But will he be so fluid and show his best traits against Porter, who will be pressing him more than anyone has since Formella turned pro in 2014? One might assume not, but stranger things have happened than a Formella upsetting a Porter. No, I’d not bet your house on it. But assuming too much in boxing is a fool’s errand.