DUSSELDORF - Junior welterweight hopeful Robert Tlatlik returns to the conking campaign this Friday night, against Sylvester Walczak, a limited neighbor from Poland who will probably do well to make it through the scheduled 8 round distance.
Though still virtually unproven, twenty-four year old Tlatlik, 11-0 (8), looks like he could soon be one of the division's top emerging prospects though he's realistically still over a year away from attempting to make any serious step into fringe contention.
Meanwhile, Tlatlik hones his arsenal in the Freudenreich Pro Boxing center, a funky, no-frills little gym tucked away, a few yards of pavement and a few light years of motivation off a busy urban landscape. There, many an unsung whapathon serves as proof that the sport will never collapse, let alone die, with humans on this planet.
The great Emanuel Steward was in Freudenreich with some US hopefuls during one of his final Rhineland journeys, and included it in a positive assessment of German gyms.While Freudenreich is a popular facility for many skill levels and boxing interests, the building comes into it's own during club fight nights like this Friday, which occur every few muggable moons.
These enchanted everlast evenings, the gym is always crammed to near overflow proportions, which in this case means around 200 inspired patrons packed under a low ceiling, pounding the strong local Alt bier and howling for their local heroes amidst makeshift seats of punching bag stands and rusty but still well-used universal gym type equipment.
Dozens more are turned away from squeezing in the door, and many stand outside by the beer table or smoking zone just to stay close and hope for a vacancy. Despite the heated emotions and humid atmosphere, a family friendly scene is maintained with dozens of youngsters and many a grandparent. All class, no jackasses.
Tlatlik, an ex-pat from Chorzow, Poland now living in nearby Essen, is anxious to get back into action after taking a good step last October with a TKO 2 of Sabri Ulas Gopeman, then 10-4. It was Tlatlik's first scheduled 10 rounder. So far, Tlatlik's most noticeable performance came on the undercard of Wladimir Klitschko - Jean Marc Mormeck when he immediately steamrolled too ripe Kevin Still, 3-1, for a first round KO in front of around 30,000 customers.
It seemed still green Walczak, 4-4-1, was on a globe trotting career path as fodder for other young fighters with better records and better backing in places like the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland and Canada. Then, on March 15th the Ides were on his sides, as he beat 10-0-1 George Michael Carman at storied York Hall in London.
Now Walczak adds Germany to his travel log, looking to cash in one way or another while local favorite Tlatlik aims to continue his march to contention. Such are the ingredients of some great gym wars.
Prime conditioning is a trademark at Freudenreich, and Tlatik has yet to appear winded from any recent encounters. A solid punch rate and mix of combination shots indicates he will likely win some 10 round fights against decent competition soon.
"It looks like Tlatlik can go far. He is learning very well," said knowledgeable insider Uwe Betker. "Time will tell, and that (probably still) won't be for a little longer."
It may be a while before deeper questions about Tlatlik's power versus better opposition, and his continued ability to improve are answered.
For now, headlining Friday night at the club fights in Dusseldorf is a pretty good place to be.