ST. LOUIS - Boxing is a risk-and-reward business. A successful gamble this past May ultimately positioned top prospect Willie "The Great" Nelson (18-1-1, 11 KOs) against undefeated John "Dah Rock" Jackson (13-0, 12 KOs) on September 15 for the vacant North American Boxing Federation (NABF) super welterweight title.
Nelson vs. Jackson will be part of the Sergio Martinez-Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. HBO Pay-Per-View event, presented by Top Rank and DiBella Entertainment, live from the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
Last May, Nelson agreed to be a late replacement-on only 11 days notice to fight-for highly-touted, previously unbeaten Cuban fighter Yudel Jhonson (12-0) on ShoBox. Nelson dropped Jhonson in the second round en route to upsetting the 2004 Olympic silver medalist by way unanimous 10-round decision (97-92, 97-92, 95-94).
Nelson's impressive victory propelled him into the World Boxing Council (WBC) ratings, in which, he is currently rated No. 11.
"We saw an opportunity to beat a fighter everybody thought so highly of," Nelson said. "I took the fight knowing a win would get me back on the scene."
A multi-gifted boxer from Cleveland, who is training with Jack Loew in Youngstown, Ohio, Nelson has been compared to a right-handed Paul Williams or a younger Tommy Hearns because of his freakish size-6' 4" with a 77" reach-for a 154-pounder.
Nelson was a highly decorated U.S. amateur boxer who had nearly 250 matches, capturing many titles, including the PAL Nationals twice and Under-19 Tournament, while suffering only 22 losses.
"Jackson had a decent amateur background in the Virgin Islands," Nelson remarked. "He supposedly can punch. I want him on the outside because I've been learning how to use distance with my height and reach advantages. Before, I just went in fighting, not taking advantage of being the bigger, taller fighter."
Jackson, a 2008 US Virgin Islands Olympian, is the son of three-time, two division world champion Julian "The Hawk" Jackson (55-6, 49 KOs). Jackson, rated No. 17 by the WBC, is the reigning WBC Youth World super welterweight middleweight titlist.
At stake for Nelson against Jackson is a higher ranking, which would move him closer to his dream of fighting WBC champion Saul "Canelo" Alvarez. I just take things fight by fight," the 25-year-old Nelson noted. "A win figures to put me higher in the ratings, but this is boxing and anything can happen. I focus on my fights, one at a time, and leave who I'll be fighting up to my promoters and the sanctioning bodies."
Nelson is co-promoted by Rumble Time Promotions and DiBella Entertainment. "Willie earned this NABF title shot and world ranking with his strong performance against Jhonson," Rumble Time Promotions president Steve Smith commented. "This is a great opportunity for Willie to be showcased on one of the biggest shows of the year. I want to thank NABF president Joe Dwyer, who is a breath of fresh air to work with.
"Willie has learned how to use his tremendous height and reach advantages from his trainer, Jack Loew, and he's much stronger working with his new strength-and-conditioning coach, Mike Bartos, who monitors Willie's daily workouts and diet. Willie Nelson is the most complete 154-pound fighter in the world, as well as every fighter's nightmare."
Go online to www.RumbleTimePromotions.com for more information about Nelson or any of his Rumble Time Promotions stable-mates.