Undaunted Wilson's tall order for world-title upset

February 02, 2023 09:02 AM AEDT | By AAPNEWS
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Liam Wilson has literally stared down two-time world champion and raging favourite Emanuel Navarrete, confidently declaring he will be the first man to beat the Mexican in more than 10 years.

The pair squared off in their first meeting on Wednesday ahead of Friday night's (Saturday AEDT) WBO super featherweight world-title fight in Phoenix. 

Navarrete is at short odds to become the 10th Mexican - unbeaten in 31 fights dating back to 2012 - to become a three-division champion.

Two days out he looked every bit the favourite; sitting cooly, centre stage on a panel of boxers that included Muhammad Ali's grandson Nico Ali Walsh, who will fight on the undercard.

But it was the low-profile Brisbane talent Wilson, with just 12 professional fights to his name, who turned heads when he stood over his shorter rival at Desert Diamond Arena.

"I saw a smaller man in front of me," Wilson told reporters after his face-off with Navarrete, who stands six centimetres shorter than the Australian at 170cm.

"Through his career he's fought guys smaller than him and for the first time he's going to be stepping up to a division that's going to be too hard of a leap.

"I don't want to buy into (Navarrete's record); when you start buying into it you start questioning things, or (wondering) should you be here.

"I want to ruin his plans ... if anything, he's got the bigger ask."

Wilson has a reputation as a nervous public speaker but surprised himself with a statement-making address, saying "the confidence came out of me because it feels like it's all just meant to happen".

"I have a tough fight ahead of me. Navarrete's a great champion," the 26-year-old said on stage.

"But I've worked my arse off; I plan on giving him the fight of his life. I love it and I'm going to win."

The pair have fought at weights more than 10kg apart during their careers, a storyline that offers the Australian hope despite Navarrete's incredible record.

But the Mexican, who has been in the ring since he was a seven-year-old, insists he can handle Wilson's size and well-documented punching power.

"I have done things that have been tougher," the 28-year-old said through an interpreter.

"I did notice that he's taller but we've worked really well, there's nothing to be worried about. 

"I'm familiar with boxers that hit hard, for me that's normal.

"100 per cent (Wilson can win); if I say no I'd be over confident. He's very confident and can be very dangerous."


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