Veteran boxing trainer Jack Loew has been to the top of the boxing mountain with former world champion Kelly Pavlik and now he’s heading back there with rising star Willie “The Great” Nelson (19-1-1, 11 KOs), North American Boxing Federation (NABF) super welterweight champion, who makes his first title defense against Michael “El Magnifico” Medina (26-3-2, 19 KOs) in the 10-round co-feature on this week’s ESPN Friday Night Fights. He has Nelson preparing intensely through his own unique workout programs, while having him set on the future, and bigger fights and tougher challenges in the upcoming year.
DiBella Entertainment and 50 Cent’s SMS Promotions are co-promoting this week’s ESPN Friday Night Fights show. Nelson vs. Medina NABF title fight is being promoted in association with Steve Smith’s Rumble Time Promotions, also Nelson’s co-promoter with DiBella Entertainment.
Nelson(19-1-1, 11 KOs), who is the top-ranked American in the World Boxing Council (WBC) ratings at No. 5, is coming off impressive back-to-back wins by 10-round decisions over a pair of previously unbeaten Olympians – two-time Cuban National champion Yudel Jhonson (12-1), on ShoBox, and previously unbeaten Virgin Islands-native and WBC Youth champion, John “Dah Rock” Jackson (13-1, 12 KOs), for the vacant NABF super welterweight title.
Back in 2007, Pavlik got his first big break by stopping Edison Miranda in the seventh-round of an HBO Championship Boxing card in Memphis, headlined by Jermain Taylor and his decision victory over Cory Spinks. The nationally televised win positioned Pavlik for his next fight, in which he captured the World Boxing Council (WBA) and WBC middleweight titles by knocking out defending champion Taylor in the seventh round, propelling Kelly into stardom.
Loew, respectfully, believes that Medina could be a stepping-stone for Nelson like Miranda was for Pavlik. “I know it’s a waiting game, Loew said. “I’ve been there with Kelly. We waited until he got Miranda. Willie knows I’ve been there before and he trusts me in his corner. Medina is a tough, dangerous kid who has a golden opportunity fighting Willie. Medina is coming to fight but he’s wide open, fighting a taller opponent (Nelson is 6′ 4″) who has a long reach (84″). If he does what he’s told and follows our game plan, Willie wins hands down, probably by knockout.”
Medina, ranked No. 17 by the WBC, has been stopped only once, by Saul Roman. He now has a hot trainer, Eric Brown, working his corner as chief second. Brown, who is a top trainer at Freddie Roach’s famed Wild Card Gym in Hollywood (CA), gained international attention last year for his work with world champions Peter Quillin and Paulie Malignaggi.
“Jack can hold his own with any trainer in boxing,” Smith commented.
“In Willie Nelson, he has the best pure boxer he’s ever worked with and Willie, a highly-decorated amateur boxer, in Jack, has a trainer who has proven his ability to develop a world champion. Jack has Willie sitting down on his punches and using his monstrous reach, working everything off his jab and throwing lethal body punches. Jack has Willie using every bit of his many God-given gifts. When I say Jack has turned Willie into a frightening, imposing fighter, I really mean it, because Jack has built Willie into a complete fighter. Willie’s going to look like a million bucks too thanks Rival Boxing for designing Willie’s new custom trunks. Team Nelson wants to thank Anthony and Russ for doing that.”
Nelson had nearly 250 amateur matches, losing only 22, highlighted by gold medal performances in the PAL National Championships twice and U.S. Under-19 Tournament. He has dramatically improved since he moved from his Cleveland home to train with Loew in the fighting town of Youngstown, Ohio, known for producing outstanding prize-fighters such as Pavlik, Ray Mancini, Tony Janiro, Jeff Lampkin, Greg Richardson and Craig Snyder.
“Willie is like Bernard Hopkins in terms of always being in the gym and in top condition,” Loew noted.
“He makes my job easier by being that way. This is a big fight for Willie because the WBC dropped Vane Martirosyan from No. 2 in the ratings (for refusing to fight No. 1 contender Erislandy Lara in a rematch of their box-off that ended in a draw to become the mandatory challenger to champion Saul Alvarez) and Willie moved up to No. 5. Maybe a big win against Medina gets us up to No. 3. It’s just a matter of time for Willie; I’ve been telling him no slip-ups, no mistakes at this stage.