By Ryan Maquiñana
A Polish invasion has overwhelmed New Jersey in recent times, with Tomasz Adamek packing in Newark’s Prudential Center, and Garden State residents Pawel Wolak and Mariusz Wach beginning to make waves on the world stage.
Unbeaten middleweight prospect Patrick Majewski (17-0, 11 KOs) hopes to join them soon enough. Originally from Radom, Poland, the 31-year-old nicknamed “The Machine” has a no-frills, wear-you-down style about him that has endeared him to rabid red-and-white clad fight aficionados in the Northeast.
Now residing in Atlantic City, the current NABO 160-pound champ will be fighting for the NABF version of the crown against tough Colombian Jose Miguel Torres (22-5, 19 KOs) this Saturday at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut, on the undercard of Wach’s bout against Oliver McCall.
In probably one of the most candid interviews you’ll ever read, the former construction worker and physical education student tells BoxingScene about how his deep passion for the sport prompted his rise up the rankings despite a limited amateur career, what it’s like to have the Polish fanbase behind him, and the idea of a feeling so strong that no drug can compare to its magnitude.
ON HOW HE CAME TO AMERICA FROM POLAND:
“I came here in 2001 through a student exchange program with my five friends. We started working here and saw it as a great opportunity. We tried to extend our visas to stay in the United States. We started in Salt Lake City, then two years in New York, then when I came down to New Jersey.”
ON HIS BEGINNINGS IN THE SPORT:
“I used to do Greco-Roman wrestling for seven years all the way through high school, so I thought about trying boxing. In 2003, I started boxing, and I met a former fighter named James McCray. He asked me to fight in the Philadelphia Golden Gloves, and he said ‘Come on, you can do it.’
“So he talked me into it, and I won. After that, it was all about boxing. My amateur record was 12-2. Then I moved to Atlantic City. Bill Johnson has been my trainer now for six years. My team turned me pro, and so far, so good.”
ON PARALLELS BETWEEN BOXING AND GRECO-ROMAN WRESTLING:
“I’ve had experience with making weight for sure. It’s a combat sport, but it’s a totally different sport with boxing as far as using totally different power and strength. It’s a similar sport but much different as well.
“It gave me good experience and good conditioning. All my life, I loved to play sports, like wrestling volleyball, soccer, basketball. I was studying in college for two years to be a physical education teacher, so I’ve always been active.”
ON WHAT HE LOVES ABOUT BOXING:
“I love to train every day, but most important for me, is that when they raise your hand after winning the fight. I work so hard to see this. I do everything to enjoy that moment, that couple seconds after the fight when they raise your hand up, and you win. The more you think of it, nothing else gives you that great feeling.
“I always tell the kids that no drugs can give you that feeling. It’s so real, and it lasts for a couple weeks to me. It’s really motivating. Boxing as a sport is great. I love to come to the gym, see everybody, having fun with everybody.
“Last time me and Chuck Mussachio had great sparring for eight rounds. He said after, ‘Sorry for my language,’ and after we were just laughing. It was good work. It’s just a great environment. You can see all sportsmen, and all good fighters are so respectful. I just love to be around fighters and the coaches and to be around boxing clubs.”
ON HIS INTERACTION WITH THE POLISH FANS:
“I had a chance to fight on the undercard of Tomasz Adamek in the Prudential Center two times. They’re great and there’s so many of them. What a great experience. Even when I’m fighting I could hear the fans in the middle of the round cheering my name. Ma-jew-ski! Ma-jew-ski! It was so loud I could hear it. But I was focusing on my opponent.
“They also put our fights on Polish T.V., so it gives me extra motivation during the fight knowing all my family, all my friends back home see me. It was compelling. Polish fans are so great and so supportive.
“With this fight on November 5th with Mariusz Wach as the main event they’ve already sold like 5,000 tickets. They’re working so hard to set a record over there. It’s going to be a great evening.”
ON THE CHANGE IN OPPONENTS:
“It was supposed to be Dionisio Miranda. He was the original opponent. I think he got in trouble or something, so now I have a new opponent. It’s throwing me off my rhythm a little bit because we were working hard on a gameplan to fight Dionisio, but no matter what, I’ve got to be ready for everything. If I can knock him out, then I’ll go for it, but if I have to go war, then I have to be ready for that, put all my heart into the ring and into the fight.”
ON TRAINER BILL JOHNSON AND THE LEGACY OF HIS SON, IBF WORLD LIGHTWEIGHT CHAMPION LEAVANDER JOHNSON, WHO PASSED AWAY IN 2005 AFTER A FIGHT WITH JESUS CHAVEZ:
“[Bill] is like a grandfather to me. Every day in the gym we’re having fun. Back then, Leavander would see me and say, ‘Look at this guy. He can punch! He can punch! He can fight! He can fight!’ But back then, I was so green. I was throwing wide punches, but I think Leavander was speaking about my heart.
“Back then I was a nobody, but Leavander would always find time to work with me and talk to me and telling me good things. To be honest, I didn’t really know how good he was, and then one day I see him on HBO fighting, and I was like, ‘Wow.’
“After what happened to Leavander, everybody in the gym was sad. It was—I don’t really know how to say—it was really hard for Bill. That was his son, and he was right there with him. Bill took a couple months off from the gym, but he knew Leavander wanted him to stay in the gym. That’s why he came back to keep training me and training other fighters.
“We actually started talking often about Leavander, me and Bill, and I started thinking about whether I should talk about him to Bill. But Leavander is all over our gym. Wherever we go in A.C., there is always Leavander’s name. Even the street’s name is Leavander Johnson Boulevard. So we always talk about Leavander, as in who he was fighting, and what he was doing. I think Leavander’s spirit lives on in the gym.”
ON HIS CAREER PROGRESSION TO THE NABO TITLE:
“When I was an amateur, my team, they say, ‘You’re ready for pro.’ I wasn’t sure, but I said ‘O.K.’ I won my first couple fights, but I knew I had a long way to go in a short amount of time. I started training and training, and I had small dreams. One day I see ‘Mighty’ Mike Arnaoutis training in our gym in Atlantic City. When he won the NABO title, I thought, ‘Wow, maybe I hope one day I can win that title one day.
“That’s so great. That’s such a big thing. So I kept training harder and harder, getting better and better, and the next thing I see, I’m 16-0 and my next fight is for the NABO title. My dream was coming true, so I beat [Marcus] Upshaw, and I got it. And as soon as I accomplished this dream, this bigger dream is coming up. I see a small light at the end of the tunnel where I could maybe beat those top guys and get a shot at the title, and I’ll do anything to do it.”
ON DEFEATING UPSHAW FOR THE NABO STRAP:
“With Upshaw, I really had to close the distance. I had to put the pressure on him. People think I’m a pressure fighter. Yeah, for this fight, I had to be because he was 6-foot-3 and he has a big reach on me. So when I stayed outside, he was popping me from the distance. I had to get close to him so he won’t be able to do it. So all 10 rounds I would just pressured and pressured him. Then the fifth round came, and I dropped him. Sixth round, I dropped him, too.
“But as far as my boxing skills, I’m a pressure fighter but I try to do everything. I can box. The more you are able to do in the ring is better for you. You can fight forward, but what if someone is pushing you? You need to know how to fight backward, use your jab and move around, too. So I work on many things. I work with my balance and my defense.
“I try to see the whole picture in the ring. I study boxing. It’s like a science. For many people, boxing is just punching and whipping each other and getting hit, but boxing is much more than this.”
ON HIS PROMOTIONAL SITUATION WITH GLOBAL BOXING:
“I’m with Global Boxing Promotions right now. Because of Mariusz Kolodziej, I got a shot at the NABO and now the NABF title. You know, I was working construction when I first started fighting, but I was working too many hours that I couldn’t really focus on boxing. I was getting burned out.
“Mariusz saw me at one of my fights and said he liked me and offered me a contract. He said, ‘Just try it out with us, and if you don’t like it, you can leave anytime.’ I’m happy I did. Without Mariusz, I don’t know if I’m still fighting.”
ON LEARNING NUANCES OF THE SPORT FROM OBSERVING OTHER TOP FIGHTERS:
“Every top fighter is great. Last night I was watching Sergio Martinez. He’s so nice, relaxed, with accurate punching. He’s moving, ice skating in the ring. I like Marvin Hagler, Sugar Ray Leonard, [Manny] Pacquiao, [Floyd] Mayweather, [and] Andre’s Berto’s speed. I look at them all. How they could be so dynamic and relaxed, these champions and top fighters? From each of them, you can pick up small things, and that’s good for any fighter.”
ON THE MENTAL ASPECT OF THE SPORT:
“Mentally, your head’s got to be straight for every fight. I think I’m strong mentally, but I try to work on things. Going to the fight, there is some stress like you’re afraid of something, so I try to control this and try to relax in the ring so I perform better. Everything is mental. My trainer says, ‘Don’t worry about the fans until after the fight. You can celebrate after. Now you have to focus on your opponent.’ “
ON CONTINUING TO IMPROVE:
“We always take it one fight at a time, so I do everything to be 100 percent ready for every fight. Sometimes I see something one day in training, and I write it down so I can focus on it to get better in the next couple day. Maybe it’s combinations. Maybe I need better balance. We see what is coming next.”
ON FIGHTING FOR THE NABF TITLE AND THE ROAD AHEAD:
“Every fight from here on this level is going to get tougher and tougher. There is not many opponents to choose right now. If I fight for the NABF title, I would be ranking in the top 15 in the world. I see all these big names up there around my name, it’s motivating me so much and I better step up and be ready for those fights.
“I was never thinking I’d be a pro fighter. Now here I am, and I must do my best or not try at all. You can get hurt in boxing when you’re not ready for the fight, so I must work as hard as I can.”
ON HIS FAMILY AND THE VAST MAJORITY OF HIS FRIENDS BEING A WORLD AWAY:
“My entire family is back there in Poland. I have a couple friends in the United States, but that’s it. I don’t have a wife and kids. I’m married to boxing right now.”
ON A MESSAGE TO THE FIGHT FANS:
“Keep following me and watching my fights. I’ll keep giving exciting fights. We fight for the fans. If not for the fans, who else are we fighting fight for? I’m working hard for the fans so they can see a great show on the 5th.”