by Gary Purfield
This Saturday from Bally’s Casino in Atlantic City Garrett Wilson 12-5-1 6 KO) puts his USBA Cruiserweight belt on the line in a rematch with fellow cruiser Andres Taylor 20-1-2 (7 KO). In addition to Wilson’s USBA strap the vacant NABF title is on the line. Wilson is looking at this fight as an opportunity to continue the fast rise he has made over the last year and to continue developing into a complete fighter.
Wilson is no stranger to Taylor as he fought him to a draw back in September of 2010. What he is a stranger to, is fighting him with any notice or preparation. The first time around Wilson took the fight on one day’s notice and fought Taylor in his hometown of Johnstown, PA. Wilson states he believes he won the fight, but is okay with the draw.
At the time this was a typical move for Wilson, taking fights on short notice. Those fights often saw Wilson fighting men who were undefeated, more experienced, and in some cases making Wilson suck down to a weight that would drain him.
When Wilson fought Taylor in 2010 it marked the end of an era for him. Instead of a fight with anyone, anywhere, anytime, he began preparing for fights in advance and looking at using his past experience to advance his career towards bigger things rather than quick paydays.
While this attitude will win fans, it does not always lead to winning fights. A fighter is better prepared and ready to win when they have notice of an opponent giving them time to prepare fully mentally and physically. Wilson has made a point over the last year to do things differently.
He has a new trainer in Rodney Rice, who brings Garrett a disciplined approach in and out of the ring. Wilson has stopped taking any fight thrown his way and now looks at his career from more of a long term perspective. He embraces being prepared, including staying in shape, which he realizes will be necessary to continue the success he has enjoyed over the last year.
“Now I stay in pretty good shape after I fight. I don’t have to worry about losing a bunch of weight. I ‘m always at my fight weight. I may not be in fight shape, but I’m always in some shape so that it will not be that big of a transition when the fight comes around.”
It comes down to an approach that can be found when Wilson talks about his nickname. While the man known as “The Ultimate Warrior” earned his moniker fighting anyone at anytime, he has gradually developed into more. For Wilson the nickname also applies to his desire to become a fighter that learns from experience and develops into a complete all around fighter.
“The fact that I’m willing to fight anybody and it doesn’t matter who they are. I learn from each fight. I plan on being the ultimate fighter. Warrior is, that says it all right there. I plan to be that. I plan to learn from each experience I’ve had in boxing and to just continue to move myself into the ultimate warrior.”
His current approach has paid off. Following the Taylor fight, Wilson knocked out his next opponent Aaron Williams, 20-2-1, setting the stage for a rematch with Omar Sheika for the USBA Cruiser belt and a chance to get into the IBF rankings. Wilson had been stopped by Sheika in March of 2010, but thirteen months later it would be a different story.
This time, the far more disciplined Wilson boxed and moved his way to a wide unanimous decision. The experienced and tough Sheika made it interesting as he never stopped pursuing the knockout, but Wilson was far too fast and far too skilled to allow any mistakes.
Wilson showed another wrinkle and advancement in his next bout against skilled boxer Chuck Mussachio 17-1-2 last November. Down on the cards late in the fight, Wilson unleashed his power in round twelve and got what he was looking for. In a close fight that seemed to be in Mussachio’s favor, Wilson landed a crushing overhand right that took the fight out of the judge’s hands and gave Wilson another victory. This was followed up with a third round knockout of Pedro Martinez earlier this year.
The last year and new approach have been good to Wilson. After the Taylor fight, he was 8-5-1 (3 KO). Since that time Wilson is 4-0 (3 KO) and fighting against top rated competition. His new efforts have paid off as he is currently ranked seventh in the IBF and twenty first by the WBC.
When he enters the ring Saturday it will be as a far different fighter than the one who faced Taylor a year and a half ago. This fight was scheduled well in advance giving Wilson time to properly prepare. He will be fighting as a ranked fighter and in neutral territory of Atlantic City. Wilson is confident stating “I don’t want to take anything away from Taylor, he is a great fighter but I have been in with way better competition.”
Much like the Sheika rematch it will likely be a different man in the ring Saturday. And after Saturday, Wilson has no intention of slowing down. He is well aware that he has made significant progress over the last year and has high hopes moving forward.
“Hopefully after this I’ll be fighting for the world title, IBF, or fighting on NBC. I’m looking to fight on NBC or for a world title. Hopefully a world title comes first.”
If Wilson continues his learning in the ring, he will be well suited to big time boxing. He has a huge smile and an engaging personality that go with his enjoyment of talking to others. He has the personality that will draw fans and has experience from tough fights that many fighters today lack.
When asked if he had anything to add Wilson kept it simple in describing Saturday night and the future.
“Get ready for the explosion. It’s going to happen. It’s going to be big.”
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