Golota aims to pull dirty punches Trainer: Big opponent is himself, not Lewis

October 03, 1997|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,SUN STAFF

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- Andrew Golota has heard all the jokes ad infinitum.

Writers christened the Warsaw, Poland, native "Foul Pole" after his consecutive disqualifications against Riddick Bowe for repeatedly hitting below the belt. It was suggested Golota preferred the South Pole to the North Pole when unleashing his body punches.

In preparing Golota for his title match tomorrow night with World Boxing Council heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis, manager and co-trainer Lou Duva decked out a heavy punching bag with a pair of oversized boxing trunks bearing a large "X" on the beltline.

Said Duva, "If Andrew hit the bag below the belt, it cost him a dollar. He's such a cheap son-of-a-gun, it taught him to keep his punches up."

Then, in a classic malaprop, Duva said, "Don't worry, we're not going to try and circumcise the rules."

The routine has grown so familiar, Golota now makes the jokes.

"How can I be a dirty fighter?" he said innocently. "I take two baths a day."

Jokes aside, Duva has convinced Golota that a repetition of the Bowe debacles could forever label him a loose cannon without a serious ring future.

"In this fight, his biggest opponent isn't Lennox Lewis, but Andrew Golota, himself," Duva said. "He knows all the focus will be on him, especially from the referee [Joe Cortez]."

No one truly knows what to expect of Golota. He had thoroughly thrashed Bowe in both their fights before reverting to his street fighter mentality.

Sparring partner Derek Williams, the former Commonwealth champion who had previously worked with Lewis, said it is simply Golota's nature to flaunt the rules.

"He's hit me below the belt a number of times, and also used his elbows. I don't think what happened against Bowe was accidental. With bullies, when things don't go their way, they look for ways to quit."

Lewis' trainer, Emanuel Steward, said: "I really think Golota just snaps mentally when he finds himself in any distress during a fight."

The Bowe fights were not isolated incidents.

In May, 1995, Golota bit Samson Po'hua on the neck after the Samoan had rocked him with several hard rights. The bite failed to draw a penalty and Golota rallied to stop Po'hua in the fifth round. Ten months later, he head-butted Dannell Nicholson before scoring an eighth-round knockout.

The fighter's split personality has Duva perplexed.

"I want to teach Andrew the rules without taking away his hunger and aggression," Duva said. "He's got to decide whether he wants to be a professional boxer or barroom brawler. We can holler and scream, but he has to know what's right and wrong.

"When I reprimand him for fouling, he raps his head and says, 'I stupid.' I really don't know the answer."

In his defense, Golota believes he has been made too much of a villain, insisting his fouls were not premeditated.

"People remember only the low blows," he said. "They should also remember all my clean punches. I'm a good fighter and a good man. Ask my wife."

Talk to Golota, an imposing 6 feet 4 and 244 pounds, and he exudes no sense of terror or intimidation. He has almost a playful quality while exchanging gibes with the media.

"I really like clean boxing," he said. "People pay to see a great fight, not to see it end on a foul. That's why I was so disappointed with the Bowe fights. To lose that way was a tragedy. I have not stopped thinking about it."

Golota realizes he is carrying the hopes of a whole nation on his broad shoulders. A large contingent of fans will make the trip from Poland to lend support. Back home, the pay-per-view telecast will air at 6 a.m.

"If he wins the heavyweight crown, he can become almost as popular back home as the Pope," co-manager Ziggy Rozalski said.

Golota said: "To win a world championship is something every fighter dreams about. Now it is in my hands to make it a reality. It would be great to become my country's first boxing champion. But, personally, it would also mean I am the best man in my class."

Predictably, someone ended the interview by asking if Golota could overcome his fouling tendencies against Lewis.

"Don't bet any money on it," he said with a playful wave of his beefy left fist.

The heavies

Who: Lennox Lewis (31-1, 25 KOs), London, vs. Andrew Golota (( (28-2, 25 KOs), Warsaw, Poland

What: For Lewis' World Boxing Council heavyweight title

When: 9 p.m. tomorrow

Where: Convention Hall, Atlantic City, N.J.

TV: Pay per view. Estimated cost $39.95. Main event will start approximately 11: 30 p.m.

Purses: Lewis, $6 million; Golota, $2.5 million

Co-feature: Arturo Gatti (28-1, 23 KOs), Jersey City, N.J., vs. Gabriel Ruelas (44-3, 23 KOs), Jalisco, Mexico, for Gatti's International Boxing Federation junior lightweight title

Pub Date: 10/03/97

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