The top two Jewish fighters in the world hope to give fans an early Hannukah present this weekend.
As Jews worldwide begin their preparations for the holiday, a modern day Maccabee will put his perfect record on the line. When Dmitriy "The Star of David" Salita enters the ring at the Manhattan Center in New York City on Thursday, it could mean a festival of lights out for his opponent "Red Hot" Robert Frankel.
Frankel, a native of Denver, Colorado, is 12-4 with 1 KO. Salita, an Orthodox Russian Jew from Brooklyn, NY, is undefeated with a record of 23-0 with 14 KOs.
In an exclusive interview, Salita told The Jerusalem Post that training for the fight has been difficult because Frankel is a last minute replacement for the scheduled opponent who canceled because of the flu a few weeks ago.
"It has been tough to focus because people keep pulling out," Salita said. "When I train, I like to see the face I am training for, so it took a lot of mental maturity to motivate myself."
Salita has since learned that Frankel is a tough guyâ€š who is known to throw 100 punches per round.
To prepare for the fight, Salita once again headed up to his secluded training camp in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania.
Salita loves the isolation and the focusâ€š the training in the Poconos brings him but admittedly jokes, it is a little cold in the winter. Salita returned to New York several weeks ago to focus on his strength and conditioning workouts with Dave "Scooter" Honig and his boxing skills with legendary trainer Hector Roca at the famed Gleason's Gym.
Salita recognizes that it is "time to move on and fight a big time contender."
Salita said he has two goals in his career - to win the WBA Jr. Welterweight title and then to eventually win the WBA Welterweight title as well.
He realizes that there are steps needed to be takenâ€š and describes his journey to the top as a battle with the "Three Kings" - WBC Light Welterweight Champion "Pretty Boy" Floyd Mayweather Jr., IBF/WBA Light Welterweight Champion Ricky "The Hitman" Hatton and WBO Light Welterweight Champion Miguel Cotto.
"With that said," Salita added, "First things first, I need to take care of business Thursday night."
Salita's main concern for Thursday's fight is making his weight. He is on a strict Glatt Kosher diet specially prepared for him by Kosher Zone Chefs.
Salita looks forward a victory Thursday and specifically for the Hanukah holiday when he relax and eat lots of donuts and latkes.
On the other side of the Atlantic, undefeated Israeli heavyweight Roman "The Haifa Hitman" Greenberg (20-0, 14 KOs) fights the "Comeback Kid" Kendrick Releford (13-5-1, 5 KOs) of Fort Worth, Texas Friday at the Bracknell Leisure Centre in Berkshire, England.
Greenberg's manager and promoter Robert Waterman told The Jerusalem Post that Releford is "Romanâ€šs toughest fight to date, a real step up".
Waterman cited Releford's victories over top heavyweight prospects Ramon Garbey and Eliecer Castillo as proof of Releford's toughness.
In anticipation of a difficult fight with Releford, Greenberg has been concentrating on improving his speed by sparring with a top cruiserweight to develop superior skills.
Waterman addressed any concern over an injury Greenberg sustained in his hand during his fight in July when he defeated Frenchman Mamadou Sacko by stating conclusively that "Roman is 100 percent and in the best shape he's been in for many fights. He has no knuckle problems."
Waterman predicts a close and decisive victory for Greenberg. He told The Jerusalem Post to wait for the later rounds of the fight because "Roman's best rounds will be at the distance."
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