By James Slater: 31-year-old Polish big man (6’7” and approx 250-pounds) Mariusz Wach faces fellow behemoth Kevin McBride in his next fight in July, and the 24-0(12) contender who lives in New Jersey is training hard for this and every fight he has.
Capable of scoring frightening-looking KO’s (see his July 2010 KO of Christian Hammer) and of going into the later rounds if needed, “The Viking” has some good judges believing he is a future champion.
Very kindly taking the time to answer my questions earlier this week, Wach (as translated by Kasia Niedzwiecka of Global Boxing) had the following things to say:
James Slater: Thanks so much for your time, Mariusz. First of all, how old were you when you put boxing gloves on for the very first time?
Mariusz Wach: I started boxing at age ten, but I didn’t have any amateur fights until I was 19. Prior to that I did martial arts like most of the other kids in Europe, including the Klitschkos. At my size, I ran out of opponents quickly and became disinterested. One of my friends brought me to back to the boxing gym and I got right back into it easily. My father was a big motivation, because he was the one who got on me and pushed me to make something out of myself.
J.S: Who were/are your boxing heroes and influences?
M.W: Definitely Andrew Golota. I always loved the way he fought, because he was a big man who had skills like a welterweight. Its a shame that he never became heavyweight champion of the world, because he had more ability than most of the champions. My goal is to finish what he started and become the first heavyweight champion from Poland.
J.S: For those who have not yet seen you fight, how would he describe your ring style?
M.W: I can fight any way, really. Most of my fights are on Youtube so take a look yourself. I prefer to box and pick my punches, but I have the strength and toughness to fight aggressively and trade punches.
J.S: What was your amateur record and did you face any big names then?
M.W: I can’t remember exactly, but I had something like 80 or 90 amateur fights and was an Olympic alternate for the Polish team in 2004. I faced many of the top fighters in Europe, but their names don’t immediately register. I did win a silver in the European Union championships and I also won a few Polish national titles.
J.S: I understand you were trained by Michael Moorer – but who is your trainer today?
M.W: Yes, Michael Moorer was my trainer – up until after my last fight (in Feb. of this year). We worked very well together and he taught me many things about how to be a champion and how to maximize my punching power. But due to a scheduling conflict, we had to split. Michael is still someone I respect and admire of course, but now I’m working with Juan De Leon and Carlos De Leon. Juan, who is my main coach, guided Joe Mesi, while Carlos De Leon was a four-time cruiserweight champion.
J.S: You clearly have good people around you then. At age 31, how close do you feel you are to your physical peak?
M.W: I really do feel stronger than I’ve ever been in my life. I’ve always been strong, but now here at Global Boxing Gym I have a full team that includes a strength and conditioning coach. All I do here is box, train and sleep. It gets a little lonely at times because my fiance and son Oliver, who will be one-year-old in October, are back in Poland, but I talk with them all the time on Skype and on Facebook. They are my motivation to work hard and fight hard. I also have an extended family here at Global Boxing that keep my spirits up.
J.S: What do you consider to be your best performance to date?
M.W: My best performance may be my last fight against Johnathan Haggler (KO 3). I was still adjusting to my coach Michael Moorer at the time, but I kept my distance well and I threw more punches than before because of my better conditioning. Afterwards I spoke with Haggler, who is a great sportsman and gentleman. He said that all of his other stoppages before, to fighters like Shane Cameron and Chazz Witherspoon, were because of exhaustion, and that I was the first to knock him out for real.
J.S: Which names would you ideally like to fight this year or next year? And how far off a shot at a world title do you think you are?
M.W: It really isn’t my call, its up to my promoters Mariusz Kolodziej and Jimmy Burchfield, but I would be crazy if I didn’t accept an opportunity to face a big name or even a champion. It really wouldn’t matter much to me, because I’m just here to fight. I expect that all of my opponents will be tough, so I’m not going to be surprised by anything. I face an 0-20 fighter the same way I face a 20-0 fighter.
J.S: How was it sparring with Alexander Povetkin recently?
M.W: Working with Povetkin and his trainer Teddy Atlas was a great experience. I’ve worked with good fighters before like Albert Sosnowski and Samuel Peter also. Povetkin is a very talented fighter and I believe he will be tough for anyone in this sport. He didn’t become number-one contender and [Olympic] gold medallist for no reason. I think people will see what he’s about very soon.
J.S: You have won your last 4 fights by stoppage, do you feel you are hitting harder than ever now?
M.W: I do feel like my punching power is getting better, yes. The one thing I did before was stand too tall and not get leverage on my punches. Now, with Juan and Carlos, I’m sitting down on my punches and hurting my opponents whereas before I was more of a boxer type. Prior to coming to America, I never really had a full-time coach. I sometimes worked with Polish super middleweight champ Piotr Wilczewski, who is an amazing talent but he had to focus on his own career.
J.S: It‘s been great speaking with you. For my final question: do you feel you are the man to end the reign of the Klitschkos?
M.W: I feel I am, and I’m looking to facing them in the future. They are both great champions, but I have a dream to achieve and a family to take care of. I also have the support of my Polish people and their support makes me stronger. I have the size and strength, but also the heart and skills to be the one to beat them. I’m waiting for my opportunity, and when it comes, I’ll be ready.