Liam Wilson is ready to become Australia’s next boxing world champion.
On Saturday (AEDT), Wilson gets the chance to join an exclusive club of Australian world champions when he takes on Mexican Emanuel Navarrete for the WBO super featherweight world title in Phoenix, Arizona.
Navarrete (36-1) has held the WBO belt since 2020 and hasn’t lost a fight in a decade, meaning Wilson (11-1) will go into the fight as a heavy underdog.
He’s an $8 outsider with Australian bookies and even longer odds in overseas markets.
Watch Australia’s own Liam Wilson take his shot at the WBO super-featherweight title against Emanuel Navarrete Live and Free Feb 4 on Kayo Freebies. Join now and start streaming instantly >
But underdog status doesn’t bother Wilson, who is determined to become world champion and fulfil a promise he made to his dad before he died when he was a teenager.
“It’s crazy man,” Wilson told news.com.au of the chance to fight for a world title.
“It’s just around the corner. I haven’t done it yet. That’s the last job I’ve got to do. I’ve done the hard work in training.
“I’ve got a fight to win and that’s to become world champion. It’s been a dream of mine for many years. I made a promise to my dad when I was a young kid that I’d be world champion for him one day.
“It’s been an emotional rollercoaster because I feel like I have a lot to live up to in that way. But I’ve been working very hard for it and I’m going to win this fight.
“It’s the pinnacle of professional boxing. It feels pretty surreal at times as well. I lay in bed thinking about it and wow.”
A shock loss to Joe Noynay in 2021 sent Wilson into a downward spiral that saw his mental health hit rock bottom.
But after avenging that loss to Noynay in a rematch and winning his last fight, Wilson is ready to take on Navarrete, and said another one of his trademark left hooks from hell could deliver him the world title.
“Mate, I don’t want to jinx it but there’s pretty good chance I think,” Wilson said of his left hand ending the fight.
“I’m picturing in my head he’s going to be lunging forward with his uppercut. I feel like technically he’s pretty flawed and I have to catch him when he comes in. Either way it’s going to be a good fight but the left hook will be there ready to go.
“I know he’s a dangerous opponent. He’s been undefeated for 10 years. That’s a pretty long reign for a champion and he’s very experienced. He’s been in these fights many times before. “In that sense I’m up against it. He’s very unorthodox. He’s dangerous with his lead hand, his uppercut.”
Wilson was originally slated to fight Archie Sharp on the undercard of Tim Tszyu’s world title fight with Jermell Charlo, before an injury to Charlo scuppered those plans.
But the delay has worked in Wilson’s favour — giving his hand more time to heal as he headed to the United States for an additional eight-week training camp.
The rescheduled fight has also give Wilson the chance to step out of Tszyu’s shadow as he seeks to join Jai Opetaia, Dennis Hogan, Ebanie Bridges and Cherneka Johnson as the only current Australian boxing world champions.
“It’s worked out perfectly timing wise, how it all played out,” the 26-year-old Queenslander said.
“I was getting ready for the Tim Tszyu undercard end of January and came out of the operation on my hand.
“Take nothing away from Tim, I’m looking forward to his fight as well. But it’s been good for the limelight to be on me and shine around on me for my showdown, my world title fight and for the whole country to tune in and watch me.”
Wilson holds no ill will towards football players, whose boxing bouts garner more headlines in Australia than professional boxers fighting at a much higher standard.
But he knows that might change if he becomes world champion on Saturday.
“I’m on my own journey,” he said.
“I don’t do this for fame and fortune. I do this for myself and purely because I love boxing. I don’t it for that sort of publicity. Once I become world champion I’m sure all of that changes.
“It is what it is. Some people talk the talk. I’m quite a quiet, placid fighter.”
Watch Liam Wilson vs Emanuel Navarrete on Kayo Freebies from 10.30am (AEDT) on Saturday 4 February.