THE last time an Australian took a leap of this size, he went on to win a legitimate world title.
That fighter was Jeff Horn, and that opponent was former world title challenger and 40-fight veteran Naoufel Ben Rabah, whom Horn edged over six rounds in just his seventh professional fight.
This time around, it’s unbeaten Queenslander Liam Wilson (5-0, 3 KOs), who takes an enormous leap in competition, challenging Venezuelan slugger Jesus Cuadro (18-6, 14 KOs) in a fight that nobody in Australian boxing would consider signing up for.
But if you ask the unbeaten former national titleholder and amateur star, he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Absolutely, but I can’t complain about it either,” he told The Main Event Boxing Podcast.
“It’ll be my sixth fight, it’ll be 24 for him. Look at his opponents – anyone that he’s lost against – they’ve looked bloody good on paper. They’re good fighters.
“I’m sure he’d be cheering. I think he’d be cheering. I wonder what he’s thinking.
“And if we can do it [win] in good fashion, I’m not saying that I’m going to stop him… he hasn’t been
stopped before. If I can do something that those blokes couldn’t do, it definitely puts me up in the eyes of the organisations, or people in the boxing world.
“I never make predictions ever, but if I can do it, it’ll look good for me.”
While his record makes for mild reading from afar, the 34-year-old Cuadro is far from tame, pushing recently crowned IBF super featherweight titleholder Joseph Diaz to a credible majority decision just five months ago.
Wilson, 23, isn’t looking beyond the task at hand, but understands the looming platform on offer and what a high-profile win on live television would do for his career.
“I’ve been pushed on pretty quickly, but I’ll have to do it smartly as well,” he explained.
“It comes down to that my team really believe in me, and I believe in myself as well. I have a platform to showcase my skills, they must see something in me.
“I’m so privileged to even get onto these cards. It’s something that I’d dream of, Suncorp Stadium, I think there were 25,000 people.
“I’m just rolling with it. I’ve got to keep winning though.
“Three years ago, professional boxing was dead… not dead, but there were definitely no TV fights, that’s for sure. You’d hope to get on Mundine’s undercards just to get on television.”
Wilson is among five other Australian fighters, hand-picked to lead the new National Boxing Series, which provides a platform for domestic fighters to reach world level.
The luxury of being a televised fighter isn’t lost on the quietly spoken super featherweight, who respects the ability of his peers, who have been picked to usher in the new era.
“It’s a great time, the NBS is definitely taking over the Australian boxing scene, for sure,” he said.
“I like Brock Jarvis’ style, just because I like inside fighting. That’s always appealed to me.
“I like Tim Tszyu, he’s crisp, he’s very crisp and just calculated. You can see him thinking his way through the fight with his facial expressions.
“Everyone’s got their own attributes. Jayde Mitchell finds a way to win somehow, he’s shown that in his last fight. I’m excited for his next fight as well, I’m the co-main event for that.”
To his credit, Wilson doesn’t shy away from his ambitious approach to matchmaking. As far as he’s concerned, that is the job of his trainer Benny Harrington, who proves to be equally driven.
“I hadn’t even watched the bloke, and my trainer gave me a call and said, we’re fighting such and such… and I was like alright,” he quipped.
“I still haven’t watched anything on him, I honestly haven’t. But I’ve been given a basic rundown, I’ve watched maybe 30 seconds. If I drill this bloke at the Australian amateur titles, I’ll be clapping my hands for it.
“I think technically, this guy hasn’t got what I have. I can definitely box his ears off. If he’s only attribute is being tough, he’s going to need more than that, that’s for sure.
“My trainer has told me it’ll be as hard as I want to make it. If I’m sitting there fighting, it could be a hard fight, but it’s also where I like to be as well. For me, it’s not a bad spot either.
“I just want to show the fans, I showed the Australian public with my last fight that I can fight. This time, I want to show you guys that I can box, southpaw or orthodox.
“I don’t want to be fighting bums, or blokes that I’m just going to walk through.”
Photo: Betelgeuse Films