James Moore (17-2, 10 KOs) faces Pawel Wolak (26-1, 17 KOs) at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx this Saturday night knowing a win will open up new horizons for his career, and he has prepared for it knowing that he needs to perform at his best to take advantage of this big opportunity.
A win over the Top Rank-promoted Wolak, who is ranked in the top 15 light middleweights in the world by two boxing organizations (number 11 by the WBA and 13 by the IBF) would reignite his career.
“I got the right sparring, the right training camp, and I am in the right condition. More importantly, I am in the right frame of mind, which is crucial,” Moore told the IrishCentral over the weekend.
Moore stayed in New York in preparation for this fight, running in Juniper Park in Queens in the mornings and working in Gleason’s Gym to ready himself for battle against his Polish American opponent.
His father, Jim Moore, has been in the U.S. for the past three weeks working with his son and head trainer Lennox Blackmore ahead of the fight.
“It has been tremendous to have my father over as he keeps me ticking over and myself and himself studied a lot of tape on him (Wolak) at night,” he said.
Moore has had some hard rounds in sparring with former world champion Kassim Ouma in preparation for this fight. Ouma is also a no nonsense come-at-you fighter who has a boxing style very similar to Wolak.
“Style-wise, he (Wolak) is everything I would want, someone a little shorter than me with shorter arms and who is going to walk forward. These are normally the perfect ingredients for an opponent for me.”
Moore’s record of 17 wins and two losses suggests a solid career that came up a little short when it mattered most.
Preparation and motivation, or lack thereof, seem key elements in Moore’s biggest fights to date.
In the signature win of his professional career against Juan Carlos Candelo in March 2008, the Wicklow man seemed to get the mix just right.
However, Moore’s two defeats came almost as a direct result of bad preparation and ill-advised matchmaking respectively.
Moore’s first loss was on his ESPN debut against Gabriel Rosado in June 2008. The 32-year-old admits that he did not go into the fight knowing enough about Rosado, a hard-punching offensive fighter whose confidence grew as the fight went on.
Moore’s other professional defeat was to current WBA champion Yuri Foreman in a fight that was always a mismatch in terms of style.
The fleet-footed Foreman attacked in spurts and then used the ring to move away from Moore. The increasingly frustrated Irishman chased his opponent around the ring to no avail and lost a unanimous decision.
Moore’s sparring prior to the Foreman fight did not adequately prepare him for the challenge, and this came back to haunt him during the fight.
This time, Moore has left no stone unturned in his preparations.
Unlike Foreman, Moore will not need to look for Wolak in this fight, as it is likely that the Polish American will try and swarm Moore in the early rounds in an effort to smother the Irishman and try and end things early.
“I am in tremendous condition and all, so I cannot see that happening. I am hoping that he is going to come out straight at me early on the fight because if he walks on to a shot it could be game over for him,” Moore said.
“I just need to keep him off me by making short movement and short punches. One thing that we noticed is that if someone is punching at him he doesn’t actually punch back at the same time, so that is something we have picked up on.”
Sustaining the Polish assault in the early rounds will be crucial to Moore’s chances of victory.
‘The plan for me in this fight is to win on points over ten rounds, and hopefully not get drawn into a fight too early,” said Moore, who added that if finding a good early rhythm would be key for him.
Moore knows that the two fighters who go forward are bound to lock horns eventually and it is something he is ready for.
“Eventually we are going to have to stand and trade, so I am looking forward to it.”
Moore and Wolak are expected to weigh in and around the 155 pound mark for this fight, and a more disciplined Moore reports that he was very happy with how the weight was coming off with a week to go to fight night.
Where does the term “the luck of the Irish” come from?