Yuri Foreman insists that he was prepared for the distractions from the moment he signed the contract to fight Miguel Cotto at Yankee Stadium.
After all, the aspiring rabbi’s compelling background and rags-to-riches story is tantalizing fodder by itself. But throw in the fact that Foreman is defending his junior middleweight title just hours after the end of sabbath in the first fight at the Yankees’ home ballpark in more than three decades and, well, maybe he wasn’t so ready for all the attention.
“It’s part of big fights,” Foreman said, shrugging, as dozens of TV cameras captured his every move inside the sweltering Trinity Boxing Club as he prepared for Saturday night’s fight.
“I’m pretty boring,” Foreman said. “I go home, I read a book, I watch a movie, pretty much relax, be with my wife — day-to-day stuff.”
What’s he been watching?
“A lot of ’30 Rock,”’ Foreman said, smiling. “That relaxes me.”
Foreman is three years into a rigorous program to become a rabbi, and aspires to one day lead a congregation in Israel — where he immigrated from the former Soviet Union before arriving in the United States a decade ago. That unique background is what has drawn worldwide interest, not necessarily his boxing prowess. Foreman has just eight knockouts in 28 career fights.
There are other nuggets that contribute to his magnetism, too: Foreman is married to a model who doubles as a documentary filmmaker; he had a bit part in the film “Fighting” that starred Channing Tatum; and his boyish good looks make most ladies swoon.
“He’s just a fantastic story,” said promoter Bob Arum, who also staged the last fight at the old Yankee Stadium, between Muhammad Ali and Ken Norton in September 1976.
“Nobody appreciates, outside of New York, Yuri Foreman,” said Hall of Fame trainer Manny Steward, who will be in Cotto’s corner. “They don’t know his name, he doesn’t knock anybody out, but it’s a very tough fight. It’s going to be a very emotional fight.”