Meet Liam Wilson - boxing’s next superstar
Liam Wilson is a unicorn.
Granted, it’s not the traditional description for a fighter rated a future world champion, but boxers of Wilson’s talent simply do not exist rationalises trainer Ben Harrington.
It’s here we start to tell the story of this boxing ‘freak’ who is already a five-time Australian champion, nine-time Queensland champion and six-time Australian golden glove winner.
He has been boxing since he was 10, had 122 wins from 135 fights, is tough as nails and here is the kicker, he’s only 21.
“He’s a freak, there is no other way to put it. He’s the real deal,” Harrington tells GC2018.com.
“Most boxers have a weakness or something that isn’t as strong as their other skills, but Liam is the complete package, he’s the fastest, strongest and most explosive. He’s the hungriest and the most determined.
“He can box orthodox, he can box southpaw, there is nothing he can’t do.
“Boxers like him are like unicorns, they don’t exist.”
Wilson has been representing Australia since he was 14 and after claiming his first senior title late last year at the 2017 Elite Australian Boxing Championships, has been picked to compete at the Commonwealth Games.
It wasn’t the fights he won to earn selection, rather the manner of his victory that cuts to the very core of what Wilson is about.
Despite suffering from a suspected broken hand heading into the tournament, his team were still confident he could win the title virtually fighting one-handed.
He’s that kind of fighter.
“He lives in that dark place, in that pain zone,” Harrington continues.
“He didn’t use his right hand at all in training because we thought he had broken it in sparring.
“He went in and we were thinking he would have to do it one-handed and we were confident he could do that.
“In the first round of his first fight, he was up against a really good kid who had had 100 fights and I think he lost that first round and he came back to the corner and I said, mate you are going to have to throw it. He started throwing it and he ended up getting through the whole tournament.
“He said I’ll throw it for the next three days, I don’t care if it is broken and I’m in excruciating pain, I’ll do what I have to do.
“Some people look for a way out; he looks for a reason to go on.”
The Caboolture boxer has all the skills to become a world champion, but most importantly, his mental drive, passion and dedication separates him from the rest.
When he was 15 he lost his father to alcohol. On his father’s deathbed, Wilson promised him he’d win a world title.
It’s a promise he intends to keep. Wilson has been working towards the goal since he started fighting as a 10-year-old.
The Commonwealth Games shapes as an important moment in his life. Winning gold would be one of the proudest moments of his career, but would also prove a great stepping stone to open the door to his dream of becoming a professional world champion.
It’s why he puts himself through brutal old school training sessions, that push him to the very limit.
“I love hurting,” Wilson tells GC2018.com.
“I love the intensity and brutality of boxing. I love giving it out and receiving it, it is a little weird.
“Sometimes being tough, just doesn’t cut it. I really want to push the best fighters to know that I’m the best in the world.
“I’ve fought in world championships, but nothing as big as this. I feel like I’ll rise to the occasion.
“Not only would a gold medal be one of the proudest moments in my career, it would also open a lot of doors, putting me in the spotlight in front of a massive audience.”
Both Harrington and Wilson himself are conscious of not getting ahead of themselves.
They know the talent is there - his record speaks volumes to his enormous potential - but in boxing, you are only ever as good as your last fight.
“There is no bigger critic of Liam than himself, he is on a different level,” Harrington explains.
“Most people quit. I’ve never seen him quit.
“Mentally he is on another level in terms of those Australian titles. He didn’t leave his hotel room unless it was to weigh-in or to fight, it wasn’t about leisure. He was there to do the business.
“I train a lot of boxers and when it gets hard, he has an inner belief and an inner drive that no one else has.
“He takes himself to that place, where it becomes not as much a sport, but who wants it more. He never loses that.
“Boxing is not a glamorous sport, people come out and see the boxer do his stuff, but it is a dirty sport. You have got to get down and dirty. The training is ruthless, the sparring is ruthless, you are always hungry because you are trying to make weight, it’s a tough sport.”
While Wilson has been dreaming about turning professional and becoming a world champion, he has also been dreaming of the Commonwealth Games. Literally.
“I’ve been watching my opponents, the ones I think I’ll face at the Games,” he explains.
“They are not expecting me, but I’m expecting them. I’ve been watching these guys since I was 15. I think it gives me an edge.
“I met McCormack when I was 15 in Kazakhstan and we did sparring together and he punched the heck out of me. He really bashed me. It was a good thing, he’s always stuck in my mind and I’ve watched him ever since."
No matter the result at GC2018, there is no question Wilson shapes as a superstar of the boxing world.
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