Prospect killer Nelson earned his boxing bones, so to speak, with impressive back-to-back victories by 10-round decisions over previously unbeaten fighters, two-time Cuban National champion Yudel Jhonson (12-1) on ShoBox, and World Boxing Council (WBC) Youth champion John "Dah Rock" Jackson (13-1, 12 KOs), for the vacant North American Boxing Federation (NABF) super welterweight title, on the September 15th Sergio Martinez-Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. HBO Pay-Per-View event.
"I still have a lot of growing to become a complete fighter," a humble Nelson said. "I’m working hard with (head trainer) Jack (Loew) to stand behind my jab, use my reach and length, and take less shots. I need to knock-off a few more top fighters to get a world title shot. I just fight and leave who I fight up to my coaches, promoters and manager. I would like to fight next for the vacant WBC Silver title, which would put me in good position for a world title fight against (WBC champion (Saul) ’Canelo’ Alvarez. He makes a lot of mistakes and, even though he’s only 22, he’s at his peak because he had so many fights, so early. I’ve improved a lot since Jack has been training me. I’m only 25 and know that I will continue to improve, but I’m ready to fight the best 154-pounders in the world right now."
The gifted fighter from Cleveland, who is trained by Loew in Youngstown, Ohio, is now rated No. 6 in the world by the WBC, ranked behind, in order, Erislandy Lara (Cuba), Vanes Martirosyan (Armenia), Damion Jonack (Poland), Emanuele Della Rosa (Italy) and Sergey Rabchenko (Bellarussia).
"If Lara and Martirosyan are fighting in the WBC final eliminator," Loew noted, "there is no doubt in my mind that Willie is right there. He’s one of the two or three best American 154-pounders and top 5 or 6 in the world. He deserves his No. 6 ranking in the WBC. No more last minute fights for Willie. He took the Jhonson fight on two week’s notice and his opponent changed for his last fight. But I know it’s a waiting game; I’ve been there with Kelly (Pavlik). We waited until he got (Edison) Miranda. We have to be ready when Willie’s Miranda comes up. I can’t wait to see how Willie does when they throw a big dog in front of him. I’d love to see him fight (Alfredo) Angulo or (James) Kirkland to see what we really have in Willie. They’re punchers but that’s all they do.
"Alvarez will think Willie can’t take his punch because he’s been down a few times, but Willie has a good chin and he’s gotten up to control fights. Against (Vincent) Arroyo (2011 in Nelson’s only loss as a pro), Willie was down twice but he got up and came back to lose a majority decision. Willie took one of the most vicious punches I’ve ever seen against Jhonson. I thought it was all over but Willie got up and controlled the rest of the fight. Any other 154-pounder would have been knocked out. Willie caught Jhonson later and almost knocked him out."
Steve Smith (Rumble Time), who co-promotes Nelson with Lou DiBella, believes Nelson is changing the scene in the super welterweight division. "We’re not looking to stay at No. 6," he offered. "We are open to all of the top rated WBC 154-pounders on our way to a world title fight with Alvarez. Some of the fighters rated ahead of Willie are overrated and protected. We’re confident that Willie can beat the best in the world. He went into his last two fights as an opponent but now he’s the NABF champion. Willie has had enough of being the opponent fighting top prospects. He deserves a big fight. I’d like to thank Joe Dwyer, Claude Jackson, Sam Macias and Lee Peters for giving us an opportunity to fight for the NABF title and believing in Willie Nelson."
A highly decorated U.S. amateur boxer who had nearly 250 matches, Nelson captured several titles, including the PAL Nationals twice and Under-19 Tournament, while suffering only 22 losses. He has been favorably compared to a right-handed Paul Williams, or a young Tommy Hearns, because of his freakish size.
"Willie has all the tools because of his amateur background," Loew noted. "He does everything well and has a great jab. Willie uses his long reach but he can punch, too. Willie has so much heart and determination. He wants it so bad and for all the right reasons, not jewelry or cars, but for his children.
"He has a world of talent and reminds me so much of Paul Williams, even facially, and Willie’s upper body is starting to look like Tommy Hearns’ with that V-shape. Those aren’t bad comparisons."
"We have demanded a lot from Willie since moving him to Youngstown, under Jack Loew’s tutelage, following Willie’s only professional loss," Nelson’s advisor Sam Shapiro added. "Willie has become a real pro. We demand that he pays attention to his diet and improve his strength and conditioning. "Willie has always been a boxing gym rat, but now he has further dedicated himself to strength and conditioning, working full-time with his extraordinary physical fitness trainer, Mike Bartos. The Nelson camp is convinced that we have a winning formula and we could not be more pleased about how enthusiastically Willie has adopted this professional lifestyle. Willie knows that Jack has been to the top and Willie is doing everything asked of him to become World Champion."
Go online to www.RumbleTimePromotions.com for more information about Nelson or any of his Rumble Time Promotions stable-mates.