'The soul of a fighter': Robert Talarek interview

Luke G. Williams
11/04/2019 8:32pm

Photo courtesy of Robert Talarek

Last Saturday's sensational ten-knockdown middleweight showdown between Robert Talarek and Patryk Szymanski is Katowice, Poland is already being talked of as a potential 'Fight of the Year' winner and has become something of a social media sensation. Luke G. Williams interviewed the winner - the 35-year-old Talarek...

Robert Talarek (24-13-2) is as tough as they come.

The 35-year-old middleweight - who works full-time as a miner in his native Poland - has been described as a journeyman, a epithet whose negative connotations do not do justice to a man who has fought proudly and fearlessly throughout a 39-fight, six-year professional career that has seen him don the gloves in an incredible 12 different countries, often against quality opponents on 'away turf'.

Only halted once in his career by world-class Briton Liam Smith - a stoppage that came when he was on his feet and badly cut - Talarek's performance against Patryk Szymanski last Saturday night in Katowice has won him a boxing immortality of sorts.

Knocked down four times against a man a decade his junior, including twice in the opening stanza and twice in round two, Talarek rallied to win via fifth-round TKO, dropping his opponent six times - once in the second round, twice in the third and fourth and once in the fifth, before the referee finally waved a truly thrilling contest off.

Speaking to Boxing Monthly, Talarek's no-nonsense fighting style is also evident in his responses to BM's questions, which veer towards the taciturn, while also possesses a refreshing lack of ego and pomposity.

"The worst blows in boxing are counter-punches, when you receive a blow when throwing a blow," Talarek begins, as he describes the first knockdown he suffered in the first 30 seconds of the fight after a counter-right from his hard-hitting opponent. "All my problems in the ring started from that blow."

Indeed, for the first two rounds Talarek often looked on the verge of being stopped. Never more so than when he shipped three big rights in succession towards the end of the second stanza and almost tumbled through the ropes.

At this stage his cause looked hopeless, however when Boxing Monthly asks him whether he maintained faith throughout the fight that he would win his reply is unequivocal: "always".

Talarek credits his fearsome determination and will to win and survive to his vocation as a miner. "Mining teaches you to show strength at all and any times," he says. "I have the soul of a fighter. I've fought in the ring from the age of 16."

Resolutely modest and unassuming, Talarek's reply to Boxing Monthly's question about how it feels to be a social media sensation speaks volumes for his ability to keep things in perspective: "I do not feel it."

His description, meanwhile, of his emotions when the fight was waved off is a simple monosyllable: "Joy!"

With characteristic modesty, Talarek admits he is unsure whether, by the end of 2019, the contest he has just engaged in will still be fresh enough in the collective imaginations of the boxing cognoscenti to secure 'fight of the year' honours.

"Between now and the end of the year, there will be many more fights," he points out.

As for his opponent Szymanski, who announced his retirement post-fight after a second successive loss lowered his career record to 19-2, Talarek has some words of encouragement, claiming: "if he learns endurance, he has the makings of a champion."

And what of his own future?

Talarek declares: "In my next fights I am looking to fight the best in the world."

I don't doubt it. Robert Talarek would fight anyone, and give anyone a fight.

That's what makes him a special kind of fighter.