Yuri Foreman returned to the ring for the first time in nine months without a knee brace or his longtime manager.
He also returned without a plan to slow Pawel Wolak.
Wolak mauled Foreman, a former WBA super welterweight champion, for six brutal rounds Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden before Foreman’s corner wisely opted not to have him come out for the seventh round.
For the 30-year-old Foreman (28-2, eight knockouts), it was a crushing step backward in his career.
In losing his title to Miguel Cotto for his first professional defeat on June 5, Foreman suffered a knee injury that required reconstructive surgery. In October, his manager, Murray Wilson, died of a heart attack. Saturday marked Foreman’s first time in the ring without Wilson.
He was hoping his return to the ring as part of the undercard for the Cotto-Ricardo Mayorga fight would mark a new beginning. However, it might have marked the beginning of the end for the Israeli’s boxing career.
“I need to relax and think about it,” Foreman said after the savage beating.
From the opening bell, the 29-year-old Wolak (29-1, 19 KOs) pressured Foreman, constantly roughing him up and not giving him room to establish his jab.
Wolak hurt Foreman by going to the body, and by the end of the sixth round, it was just a matter of time before the fight would end.
“I applied pressure,” said Wolak, a native of Poland. “I was able to stop his movement, and I avoided his jab. I worked the game plan perfectly.”
Said a disappointed Foreman: “I didn’t feel anything tonight. I should have boxed him more. Maybe it was the long layoff. I worked hard in the gym, but I just didn’t have it.
“I’m sorry, Murray.”
The remainder of the undercard saw NFL safety Tom Zbikowski score a first-round technical knockout of Richard Bryant, leveling him with a solid left hook to the body 1:45 into their heavyweight bout.
The 25-year-old Zbikowski (2-0, two KOs), who plays for the Baltimore Ravens, hadn’t fought since 2006. But he eluded the awkward Bryant (1-3, one KO), then dropped him. Referee Russell Mora decided the 35-year-old Bryant couldn’t continue and stopped the fight.
“I knew I hurt him,” said Zbikowski, who will be back in the ring in two weeks in Atlantic City against an opponent to be determined. “He was a tough dude who came to fight. But I wasn’t nervous. I was more anxious than anything.”
In a IBF lightweight championship fight, Mexico’s Miguel Vazquez dealt Lenny Zappavigna his first professional defeat, scoring a 12-round unanimous decision to retain the title.
Vazquez (28-3-1, 12 KOs) effectively used his jab and opened cuts over his Australian opponent’s eyes early in the fight. Zappavigna (25-1, 17 KOs) fought courageously, but Vazquez was the more skilled tactician, and his generalship allowed him to prevail.