Yuri Foreman walked away from boxing for two years. In that time, he became an ordained rabbi.
That represents another milestone in the life of a fighter who was born in Russia, grew up in Israel and fought in the first world title fight at the new Yankee Stadium.
Foreman, 35, ends his two-year hiatus on Saturday night at the Barclays Center when he meets Lenwood Dozier in an eight-round junior middleweight bout.
“It’s very exciting to compete amongst great fighters,” said Foreman. “Coming back is a great feeling for me, especially to be coming back as a rabbi. For my observant friends, the fight starts early so for those who live a little distance from Barclays Center, you should start walking early and then take a train. I will be fighting after sundown, so it will all be kosher.”
The main event features a Brooklyn middleweight showdown when WBA champion Daniel Jacobs defends his title against Peter Quillin on Showtime. Long Island’s Chris Algieri also fights a 10-round welterweight bout against Erick Bone.
Foreman (32-2) won the WBA junior middleweight title in 2009 with a unanimous decision over Daniel Santo in Las Vegas. In his next fight, Foreman lost his belt to Miguel Cotto at Yankee Stadium in June 2010. Foreman suffered a knee injury in that bout and fought only once in 2011. He returned to the ring in 2013 but retired after winning four comeback fights.
“I took a break from boxing,” he said. “Sometimes your mental, emotional batteries are getting low. Sometimes it’s good to take a break, even from the things that you love to do.”
Foreman is happy to be back and fighting at Barclays.
“I live in Park Slope, it’s a 10-minute walk from the Barclays Center,” said Foreman, who plans on walking to the fight. “I feel great, I’m 35. I don’t consider 35 any significance in terms of getting old. I have my trainer. Without his consent I would not be returning. He believes in me and I believe in myself.”
Also featured on the undercard is Shirley light heavyweight Joe Smith Jr. (19-1), who fights New York City firefighter Will Rosinsky (19-2).
“I watched him as a kid, coming up in the amateurs,” Smith Jr. said of Rosinsky. “I also got to train with him. He was a sparring partner of mine to help me get ready for previous fights. We have a friendshi,p but this is business. So I need to do what I need to do to get the win.”
Smith fights for promoter Joe DeGuardia, who lately has made a habit of moving Long Island fighters into title contention. He promotes Algieri and has moved Cletus Seldin into a top-10 ranking.
“A lot of world champions and great fighters have fought at Barclays,” said Smith. “This is a great opportunity and I am glad Joe got me the fight.”