The stars were perfectly aligned during this training camp for Liam Wilson.
Original plans called for the Australian junior lightweight to face England’s Archie Sharp on the undercard of the January 28 Jermell Charlo-Tim Tszyu junior middleweight championship in Las Vegas. Wilson was pulled from the show just in time, when his team accepted an offer to replace an injured Oscar Valdez versus Emanuel Navarrete for the vacant WBO junior lightweight title scheduled for just six days later.
It turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The January 28 card was canceled outright last Christmas Eve, when Charlo (35-1-1, 19KOs) suffered a broken left hand during training camp. By that point, Wilson (11-1, 7KOs) already accepted an offer to face Navarrete for his first major title, not missing a beat in camp ahead of his stateside debut.
“I had a fight lined up for around this time, so it was really only a six-day difference,” Wilson told BoxingScene.com. “I was originally due to fight on the Charlo-Tszyu undercard. I was already training for that fight when the fight with Navarrete came up. The ducks lined up in a row for this one.”
The 26-year-old Queensland native lodged an eight-week camp in Washington D.C. to prepare for this fight, which takes place Friday on ESPN from Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona. He was able to secure vastly superior sparring than what is available back home along with better acclimating to the time difference.
Granted, there are significant style differences to which Wilson had to adjust. Sharp (22-0, 9KOs) is an effective body puncher with better power than his record suggests, though he can be outworked. Navarrete (36-1, 30KOs) rode his high-volume, relentless pressure attack to successful title reigns at 122- and 126-pounds—a perfect 10-0 in title fights as he aims to become a triple-division titlist.
The necessary adjustments were made in preparing for the right style this weekend. Beyond that, it’s business as usual even for the visiting, longshot underdog.
“For me, it’s just another fight,” insisted Wilson, who has previously fought exclusively in Australia since turning pro in 2018. “The biggest difference, of course, is that beating Archie Sharp would have led me to the world title, whereas now I’m actually fighting for the title. One is more experienced than the other, both have more pro experience than me but they don’t have my amateur background.
“I’m excited and know the work I’ve put in. I haven’t paid much attention to the criticism that I’m not ready for this. I know who I am and what I bring to the table.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox
ADD COMMENT VIEW COMMENTS (1)