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Pawel Wolak retires from boxing

12/8/2011 - Boxing

Four days after junior middleweight contender Pawel Wolak lost a lopsided 10-round decision in a rematch with Delvin Rodriguez, Wolak announced his retirement on Wednesday.

Wolak took to his Twitter account and Facebook pages to make the announcement.

"With a heavy heart I announce my retirement. You need heart, passion, desire to compete, but the mind needs to know when it is time," he wrote on Twitter.

He posted a longer statement on his Facebook page.

"I am at peace with my decision to retire from boxing. I left it all in the ring and I have absolutely no regrets. I got to do what most people will never be able to and I couldn't be more proud to have been part of the best sport in the world. I will stay active, busy and in boxing shape as I have done since 17 years old but I hope to help other fighters in the N.Y. area in their careers.

"The list of people to thank is too long but you all know you are. Thank you to my core team, my family, my friends and the fans who have made me a better husband, man, father, son and fighter. I am forever grateful. Thank you to Top Rank for always having my back and to the boxing media who have always been fair and treated me with respect. … Onwards and upwards."

The 30-year-old Wolak, a native of Poland from Rockaway, N.J., became a fan favorite with a series of all-action fights, none better than his first slugfest with Rodriguez in July.

The ESPN2 "Friday Night Fights" main event ended in a majority draw with Wolak unable to see out of his right eye because of massive swelling. It is a leading candidate for fight of the year.

Despite the closed eye, Wolak, nicknamed "Raging Bull," hung on to get the draw. That set the stage for the much-anticipated rematch with Rodriguez at New York's Madison Square Garden on the Miguel Cotto-Antonio Margarito II HBO PPV undercard Saturday night.
This time, Rodriguez dominated another action-packed fight and nearly knocked out Wolak (29-2-1, 19 KOs) in the 10th round.

"He's a wonderful young man, a credit to the sport and he went out on his shield," said Top Rank's Bob Arum, who promoted Wolak. "There was no fighter in my whole time in boxing braver than Pawel Wolak. I have great memories of him and I think very highly of him."

Wolak, who continued to work construction jobs throughout his boxing career, turned pro in 2004. He won his first 21 consecutive fights before losing a competitive unanimous decision to Ishe Smith in 2008.

Wolak gained attention in March when he scored the biggest win of his career, a sixth-round TKO of former junior middleweight titlist Yuri Foreman on the Cotto-Ricardo Mayorga undercard at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. In his next fight, Wolak faced Rodriguez for the first time.

Top Rank's Carl Moretti said he believes Wolak's retirement was for good.

"I think it's legit because he has a solid job outside of boxing and he's a true blue collar guy," Moretti said. "You just admire his honesty and the way he went about everything. He was great for the sport. Of course, we wish him well in the future."

Dan Rafael is the senior boxing writer for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter @danrafaelespn.