Liam Wilson Racks Up Air Miles For Title Shot
Liam Wilson was willing to go to the ends of the earth for a shot at the vacant WBO junior lightweight title, which he will get against Emanuel Navarrete, the reigning WBO featherweight titlist, who is moving up in weight.
They will meet in the main event of a Top Rank Boxing on ESPN tripleheader on Friday (ESPN/ESPN Deportes/ESPN+, 10 p.m. ET) at Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona.
— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) February 2, 2023
Australia’s Wilson took the fight when former titlist Oscar Valdez suffered a training injury in mid-December, which kept him from facing Navarrete for the 130-pound belt.
The trip from Australia to Glendale is long enough but that was only part of what Wilson went through to assure himself of being in the ring on Friday.
He traveled from his home in Australia to Washington, D.C., to train at Barry Hunter’s Headbangers gym because he wanted to work with Hunter pupil and former junior featherweight titlist Isaac Dogboe, who lost twice to Navarrete in title bouts but filled Wilson in on what to expect.
Then Wilson had to fly to London, which was the closest location where he could go in order to finalize his work visa, and spent about 10 days there. Then it was a flight back to Washington for a couple of weeks to finish camp before flying to Glendale for fight week.
Hear us discussing more of Wilson’s travels on the latest “Big Fight Weekend Preview” podcast by clicking below,
A bit of extra travel and many time zones changes wasn’t going to keep Wilson from his big chance.
“This is a chance to fulfill my dream and become a world champion,” Wilson said this week. “I’ve done 17 years of hard work for this moment. I’ve put in a lot of hard work. I’ve fought whoever they’ve put in front of me. I’m ready for Friday night.
“I’ve taken one hard fight after another. Against Matias Rueda (in his most recent bout in June), I fought with one hand. I broke my hand midway through the fight. But I showed my resilience. The fight proved to myself, my country and the world that I have what it takes to become world champion and that I have to be in those fights.”
Wilson (11-1, 7 KOs), 26, will be fighting outside of his home country of Australia for the first time and has won two fights in a row since a fifth-round knockout loss to Joe Noynay in July 2021, including second-round knockout of Noynay in an immediate rematch last March.
“This means everything,” Wilson said of the title shot. “This is what me, my team, my promoter, my manager and my trainers have worked for. We’ve taken the risks and challenges, and I know that on fight night I have a tough fight ahead of me. Navarrete is a great champion, but I do plan on giving him the fight of his life. I’m going to win.”
Navarrete (36-1, 30 KOs), 28, of Mexico, is aiming to win a world title in a third division.
“For me and my team, being a three-division world champion will be the culmination of yet another goal in my career,” Navarrete said through an interpreter. “We know that it won’t be easy. But, by doing that, I’ll feel that I have done something good in my career, and I’ll be satisfied with what I have achieved in my 10 years as a professional boxer.”