Interview with Pawel Wolak: Transitioning From Boxing to MMA
By: William Holmes
Boxing Insider is one of the few boxing websites to also extensively cover MMA, so when the news broke that Pawel Wolak was coming out of retirement from boxing to compete professionally in MMA, it only made sense for us to reach out to Pawel to catch up with him and see how his transition is going.
Unlike other professional boxers who have tried their hand in MMA, Wolak has experience in both wrestling and kickboxing, so he already has some of the tools necessary to become successful in MMA.
The following are Pawel Wolak’s responses to our questions:
1) What made you decide to try MMA?
Actually, MMA is what I wanted to do from the beginning. I started as a wrestler and kickboxer and MMA wasn’t really anything at the time. So I fell into boxing and my career took off and I never had a real chance to get into MMA. But I told myself that at age 30, if I was not a world champion boxer I would get into MMA at my prime.
2) What are some of the similarities and differences you see in training for boxing and MMA?
I am training 3 days for boxing and 3 days for MMA. There is more rolling and wrestling with MMA training which I love. The ground game work is much different than anything you do in boxing. But that is my background so I am really comfortable with it. But I think you need a balance which is why I do the training I do now. But even when I was a boxer, I did incorporate wrestling in my training as strength and conditioning training.
3) What do you think is better about MMA than boxing, and boxing than MMA?
There are more tools to use in MMA which is better. More options. Boxing is more predictable. You need to perfect several skills whereas MMA you need to perfect so many and be prepared for so many.
4) What is your favorite memory from boxing?
I loved fighting on the big stages like at the MGM when I beat Yuri [Foreman] as a heavy underdog and fighting at a sold out MSG as my last pro fight.
6) How successful were you in wrestling?
NJ is one of the top states if not the top wrestling state in the country. I went to the regions. I placed in districts and also counties. I wrestled for both Morris Hills and Roxbury here in NJ.
7) How has your transition to MMA been going? Has your wrestling ability help you to learn jiu jitsu? Has your boxing ability help you to learn Muy Thai?
My kickboxing background has helped with Muy Thai so that is coming along real well. My stand up game is real strong and ju jitsu has been my focus since December. I am really enjoying it.
8)Where are you currently training?
I am training in Patterson, NJ for boxing as I have always done for years. I am at Gracies and AllStarBJJ for my MMA work.
9) What are your future plans for MMA? Do you hope to fight for the UFC?
I am not doing this half-assed. I plan to make noise in the loaded 155 division in UFC. But I am going to take my time to get there and do it the right way.
10) Did you follow the sport of MMA while you were boxing?
I followed it more from a technical appreciation. How guys did certain things and their techniques, etc but I followed boxing more as that was my career.
11) Who are some of the athletes you looked up to in boxing and/or MMA?
Joe Frazier, Roberto Duran, Mike Tyson. For MMA, I am old school. I followed Dan “The Beast” Severn, Mark Coleman, Vitor Belfort and guys now like Anderson Silva and GSP.
12) What did you think of James Toney’s attempt at MMA? What will make you different than him?
I think that was a total joke. He did it for an easy payday and thought boxing would carry him. I have been training hard since December working on MMA and boxing. I plan to start gradually. My goal is to become the most successful crossover boxer ever to hit MMA.
13) Do you think boxing and MMA can coexist?
100% yes. I think fans can appreciate both for what they are.
14) When do you plan on having your first fight, and for who?
I am working on that with my manager Monte Cox and my longtime advisor Howard. I am guessing the first fight will be this September or October and if they go as planned hopefully to UFC by early to mid next year at 155. I know Dana and Lorenzo are big fight fans and I hope they will be interested in showcasing me. But I need to be ready so I will take my time.