I got Yuri Foreman on the phone Tuesday afternoon and said, "Hello to the junior middleweight champion of Park Slope, Brooklyn!"
He laughed, and then we chatted about his ring plans for 2012. The former WBA 154 pound champion lives near me in Brooklyn, and has been working out at the famed Gleason's. He told me he's getting closer to setting a date for a return to the ring, and that he is hungry to be once again known as a champion of a much wider area than this 'hood.
"I needed a break," the 31-year-old boxer who grew up in Israel told me. "After the Yankee Stadium experience, I had ACL surgery on my right knee, and a few friends who are doctors and fighters said take a year off." Foreman had the surgery after that June 2010 Yankee Stadium loss to Miguel Cotto (TKO9, in which he impressed watchers by fighting on one leg for a spell) and didn't listen to the friends, or his body, and came back to the ring in March 2011 against swarming Jerseyite Pawel Wolak, and couldn't continue after five rounds. "I guess I needed a humbling experience," said the boxer who has been studying to become a rabbi for a few years now. "I shouldn't have jumped back in so soon. It was humbling. I still needed that time off to build the leg up. It's almost same size as the healthy leg."
So, what's left to accomplish, after beating David Santos in November 2009 for the WBA crown?
"I like the feeling of being world champion," Foreman said. "Hopefully the motivation is there, I think it is."
He watched the bouts which ran at MSG on Saturday. He noted that Delvin Rodriguez fought a stellar gameplan against Wolak, enroute to a UD10 win. I noted that Foreman could have fought a similar style and had similar success, perhaps, if he'd been healthy, and hadn't tried the Al Certo experiment. (Foreman hooked on with the veteran Certo, who was ill and couldn't be present much in the gym leading up to the Wolak fight. Foreman's camp wasn't his best and he went in to the bout feeling like a shadow of himself, he told me.)
Would he like another crack at Wolak? "Sure I would, definitely," Foreman said.
"Against Wolak, that was just my body in it. I had no motivation, I was not present. Boxing is the kind of sport, either you are 100 in or you better not be there."
Foreman was also still mourning the loss of his manager-mentor Murray Wilson, who died in October 2010.
Looking forward, it looks like Foreman will officially reunite with trainer Joe Greer, with whom he won the crown. "If it isn't broken ...," the boxer said, in regards to his switch to Certo.
He ended the call with a polite chops bust, referring to the limited scope of territory that comes with the championship I bestowed upon him. Sounds to me like Foreman is gearing up to take back some territory.