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Foreman Fights Saturday Night

Orthodox rabbi-in-training is on Las Vegas card

Marc Tracy
March 11, 2011
Yuri Foreman (L) and Miguel Cotto (R) last June at Yankee Stadium.(Al Bello/Getty Images)
Yuri Foreman (L) and Miguel Cotto (R) last June at Yankee Stadium.(Al Bello/Getty Images)

Saturday night, after sundown, Belarus-born Orthodox boxer Yuri Foreman will take on New Jersey’s Pawel “Raging Bull” Wolak at Las Vegas’s MGM Grand. Their 154-pound bout is the co-main event along with a match between Miguel Cotto—last seen, last year, stopping Foreman in nine rounds at Yankee Stadium—and Ricardo Mayorga, who appears to be hoping that pre-fight trash talking will make up for Cotto’s actual boxing superiority. I wouldn’t bet on it.

But I would consider betting on Foreman. His loss to Cotto was decisive, but Cotto is among the very best, and a bum knee that gave out on Foreman in the seventh round did not help matters. How the knee holds up is the main question leading into this fight, according to Kevin Iole, one of the most widely read boxing journalists. Iole’s profile of Foreman is must-read (if only because it will convince you that Foreman is newsworthy independent of his Jewishness). Here’s a taste:

He’s not just normal in relation to the narcissism that pervades professional athletics. He’s as down-to-earth and as genuine as any man anywhere, virtually absent of any ego. …

No big purchases, but he does frequently speaks to Jewish groups in New York and sheepishly admits he’s begun to rate the food at his various stops. At some appearance stops, the food is tastier and more abundant than it is at others.

“Here in America, at the Shabbos dinner, you’ll say, ‘What’s on the table today? What’s there to eat?’ ” Foreman said. “In Russia, for example, you’re happy if you have some bread on the table and some vodka and maybe a little bit of meat. People are happy with that.”

So, don’t forget: Saturday, Showtime pay-per-view (your local sports bar will probably have it on—admittedly, because of the Cotto fight). Go Yuri!

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.