Most boxing fans know little if anything about the Samoan challenger now living and fighting in Australia, but Leapai is a charismatic all action slugger with a feel good story that can be easily promoted. The popular heavyweight from down under previously endured more than his fair share of personal and ring setbacks typical of young hardscrabble boxers as he fought his way up the food chain, but now he’s in a “the sky is the limit” moment that may see him utilize his full potential.
He did pretty well for himself training part time for his WBO eliminator against long time Ring ranked Denis Boytsov, knocking him down a couple of times to stay on top by a commanding decision even as Boytsov fought a heroic losing battle in their surprising matchup. With this awe inspiring performance bolstering him, Leapai will now be able to train full-time against the best sparring partners of his career to whip himself into the proper mental and physical form needed to topple a Klitschko, but only if he can stay away from his bountiful wife who has already blessed him with a half dozen children.
“I get the opportunity now to train three times a day, before it was only two hours a day”
At an even 6′ and 230-240 lbs, he gives up a lot of height and reach to the legendary Ukrainian not to mention experience, 30-4-3, 24 KOs vs 61-3-, 51 KOs, but his crouching, pressing, strong slugging style promises to pose some difficulties early on, the key being whether or not Leapai will be able to sustain the effort after Wladimir adjusts.
The 34-year-old Leapai may also have a minor youth advantage over the now grizzled 38 year old veteran who looked to be painting by the numbers in his last two bouts even as he dominated the scoring, knockdowns, and knockouts. Leapai is enthused to the max for this chance unlike many Klitschko challengers who were destined to be cast in a pall of doom before the opening bell ever sounded. A strong inner belief can sometimes overcome incredible odds stacked against a fighter as history has shown, but Leapai will also need to summon forth hereto untapped talents for him to trully have a chance. Many automatically wrote him off when the announcement was made based on perceptions of his “crude” style and significant losses and they won’t be far off from the odds which should hugely favor Wladimir if they give any odds at all for such a mismatch on paper.
Unbeaten New Zealand heavyweight prospect Joseph Parker (7-0, 6 KOs) is projected to take on Sherman “Tank” Williams (36-13-2, 19 KOs) in the supporting undercard, likely the most entertaining fight of the night. Williams is a dangerous journeyman who blasted long time undefeated contender Robert Helenius onto queer street for some precipitous time warping moments a couple of years ago. I don’t know what the handlers of the prospect Parker are thinking other than Tank is now 41 years of age and fatter than he’s ever been, so perhaps ripe for the taking by the touted prospect. We’ll see about all of those expectations since Tank won’t easily lay down like some fighters brought in to “lose.”
We can never truly know until the moment arrives as it surely must for heavyweight boxing history to be properly recorded for the ages to come.