Brooklyn Boro

Brooklyn’s boxing rabbi is back

Foreman Will Return to Ring on Dec. 5 Barclays Bout Card

November 19, 2015 By John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Yuri Foreman’s knee gave way in the biggest bout of his career against Miguel Cotto at Yankee Stadium back in 2010. Now, he’s hoping to climb back to the top beginning Dec. 5 at Downtown’s Barclays Center. AP Photo
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The most enduring image most boxing enthusiasts have of Yuri Foreman, Brooklyn’s brawling rabbi, comes from the night of June 5, 2010, in the first main event ever at the new Yankee Stadium.

Foreman, then the newly crowned WBA super welterweight champion, was fighting to hold on to that title on one leg after his right knee, already locked in an uncomfortable brace, buckled and left him virtually defenseless in the ring against future Hall of Famer Miguel Cotto, the only boxer of Puerto Rican descent to ever capture championships in four different weight classes.

Coming off his unanimous decision victory over Daniel Santos in Las Vegas the previous November, Foreman could have punched his ticket to superstardom and extended his reign as the first Orthodox Jew to hold a world title in boxing since Barney Ross in 1935 with a win over Cotto.

But it was obvious after a painful slip to the canvas in the seventh round that Foreman would not be able to defeat one of the best fighters in the world without the use of his right leg.

He still lasted into the ninth, when his corner, being urged on furiously from ringside by Foreman’s wife, Leyla Leidecker, mercifully threw in the towel and did what Foreman was unwilling to do, surrender his belt without seeing the fight through to the very end.

“I’m a world champion, and now a former world champion,” Foreman painfully admitted that steamy night in the Bronx more than five years ago before a national cable TV audience on HBO.

“And you don’t just quit. A world champion needs to keep on fighting.” 

It is that same indomitable spirit, doubtlessly bolstered by Foreman’s faith outside the squared circle, which has led him to rekindle his boxing career following a two-year retirement.

Foreman (32-2, 9 KOs) will be featured on the undercard of the upcoming Dec. 5 boxing card against an as-yet unnamed opponent at Barclays Center, just blocks from his Downtown Brooklyn home.

“Boxing is a very spiritual sport,” he said during Tuesday’s open-to-the-media workout at Gleason’s Gym, donning the Star of David on his T-shirt and trunks.

“We all have different paths. My faith keeps me centered and focused. You can be anyone. You can be a rabbi and still be fighting on the big stage at Barclays Center.”

Following the loss to Cotto, and the subsequent surgery he underwent to repair a torn ACL, Meniscus and severely torn cartilage around his right knee, Foreman was forced to retire in the sixth round of his follow-up bout against Pawel Wotak in Las Vegas in March 2011.

Thereafter, following a 22-month layoff, Foreman fought four times in 11 months in 2013, winning each bout, before declaring that he was done with boxing for good.

Until now, that is.

“I believe that timing is everything. I’ve been off for two years,” Foreman, who turned 35 in August, intimated. “I realized that I needed a little rest. I love boxing. It is something that I’ve loved since I was a kid and I feel like I wanted to do it more.

I wouldn’t come back just for the rush of it,” he added. “I would probably jump out of an airplane if I needed a rush. I like the daily routine. It’s going to the gym, it’s keeping a mental, emotional and spiritual balance. I want to become a world champion again.”

The locale of the talent-laden fight card, which will be headlined by the epic middleweight title showdown between local favorites Danny Jacobs and Peter Quillin, was also a factor in inspiring Foreman to pick up his old routine of studying his Talmud in the morning before lacing up the gloves.

“It’s very special to be fighting at Barclays Center because this is my home and I actually live just blocks away from the arena,” said Foreman, who revealed he resides on Sixth Street, a short walk from the state-of-the-art arena.

“I’ve always wanted to fight at Barclays Center. One of the things you learn about your life about yourself: every human has a desire and a goal. I had a desire to fight here and now I am. It is a big card with a lot of talent and great fighters. I am happy to be a part of it.”

Though he doesn’t know whom he’ll be facing on Dec. 5 just yet, Foreman has been training for the past five months for his shot to reclaim his former glory in the ring. 

“It’s the same routine, [I’ve been] working hard since June and putting in a lot of hours in the gym,” he noted. “In terms of preparation, I’m always trying to push myself. When I get tired, I want to push myself even harder.

“As soon as you take it easy on yourself, that’s when you have a problem,” Foreman added. “Especially in boxing. I’ve never taken any shortcuts. If you take shortcuts in this sport you’re going to get hurt. … It is refreshing to be back in the ring. I feel more centered spiritually and mentally. I am more mature. I just feel stronger all around.”

***

Undefeated super bantamweight contender Heather “The Heat” Hardy of Brooklyn will also be on the Dec. 5 undercard of Quillin vs. Jacobs, as will the evening’s co-feature, which will pit WBA Featherweight champion Jesus Cuellar (27-1, 21 KOs) against Puerto Rican contender Jonathan “Polvo” Oquendo (26-4, 16 KOs).  Hardy weighed in Tuesday at Gleason’s on the recent stunning upset of Mixed Martial Arts champion Ronda Rousey by Holly Holm. “Holly Holm didn’t prove that Ronda Rousey couldn’t fight, because Ronda is a good fighter,” Hardy said. “She just proved that there are lots of good female fighters. There are good female fighters everywhere and hopefully we’ll get the recognition that there is a large pool of female athletes that are not recognized.”

 


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