The Return of Yuri Foreman

By Gordon Marino on January 18, 2013
The Return of Yuri Foreman
“I started dreaming of boxing again," said Yuri. "Dreaming that I was winning." (Fvalabrega)

It has been a while but Yuri Foreman (28-2, 8 knockouts) will soon return to his old work of trying to box the ears off opponents. He faces Brandon Baue (12-10, 8 knockouts) on January 23 at BB Kings Blues Club and Grill in New York.

In June 2010, the then undefeated light middleweight champion exchanged leather with Miguel Cotto in a much ballyhooed bout Yankee Stadium. A master boxer with a quick jab and superb lateral movement, Foreman was holding his own against Cotto. However, in the seventh stanza his knee gave out. Foreman soldiered on with great courage but it was clear that he was working on one leg and taking a beating. Referee Arthur Mercante Jr. stopped the contest in round 9.

After knee surgery and a nine-month layoff, Foreman jumped into the deep end with a comeback fight against the mauling Pawel Wolak. The now former champ looked dispirited from the start and could not keep the hard punching Pole off his chest. Foreman’s corner ran up the white flag in round six. 

Yuri confessed, “Back then I was tired both physically and mentally. I didn’t have any motivation. I was just training out of habit.” He and his wife had a son and Foreman took a sabbatical from the sweet science to concentrate on being a father and his studies as a rabbinical student.

As a young man, Foreman left Israel for the United States with the exotic dream of becoming a world champion. For the last couple of years, his boxing ambitions went cold but then, he said, “I started dreaming of boxing again. Dreaming that I was winning. I began missing everything about it. The training. The build up. Fight night.”

Now 32, Foreman confessed, “Slowly, I came to realize that I have a gift and a small window of time to use that gift.” The late Emanuel Steward certainly agreed with Foreman’s assessment. Even as he worked Cotto’s corner against Foreman, Steward made it plain that he thought Yuri was one of the best pure boxers plying the punching trade.

Excited to be entering fight week again, Foreman told me, “We are taking it one bout at a time. But I plan on staying active.”

Lou DiBella, Foreman’s promoter, remarked, “In the 154-pound division, which is aging and is not, in my mind, outstanding, we have the ability to do some things.” 

Foreman is fervent about conditioning. So there is no doubt that he will be in shape when he climbs through the ropes next Wednesday. Asked what he is working on as he prepares for his return to the ring, the Belarusian born Israeli offered, “I am working a lot on moving, timing and on throwing combinations.” Pressed about the offensive weapons he was honing, the affable boxer volunteered “uppercuts”—the better to keep those charging bulls at bay when they break the boxing perimeter.

A professor of philosophy at St. Olaf College, Gordon Marino writes on boxing for the Wall Street Journal. He is on the board and works with boxers at the Circle of Discipline in Minneapolis, as well as at the Basement Gym in Northfield, MN. You can follow him on Twitter at @GordonMarino.

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  1. Gordon Marino 07:41am, 01/19/2013

    Me too Darrell. I’m glad that he didn’t wait any longer to jump back in. Thanks for your comment.

  2. Darrell 01:29am, 01/19/2013

    Great news, always liked Yuri.

  3. Gordon Marino 06:37pm, 01/18/2013

    Agreed. He made a mess out of that one!

  4. the thresher 07:54am, 01/18/2013

    Let’s hope the ref is not Arthur Jr.

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