The welterweight prospect with a strange name for a boxer and freakish size for a welterweight, Willie “Quiet Storm” Nelson, has made career-defining changes, including an attitude adjustment, and now he’s fully prepared to rebound from his first pro loss.
Since losing to Vincent Arroyo by eight-round majority decision last April, Nelson (16-1-1, 10 KOs) has moved across Ohio, from Cleveland to Youngstown, where he’s now trained by his former manager, Jack Loew, who also trains Kelly Pavlik and Willie’s stable-mate, Dannie Williams.
Nelson was a highly-decorate U.S. amateur boxer who had nearly 250 matches, winning numerous titles (PAL Nationals twice and Under-19 Tournament), and suffering only 22 losses,
“Jack’s known Willie for years and he’s a proven pro-style trainer,” Smith said. “Jack and Remond Safo (Nelson’s former trainer) are both great trainers. Willie is fine tuning his skills in order to take better advantage of his tremendous height and reach, in addition to working on sitting down on his punches more often. He’s surprisingly strong for a thin, 147-pound kid and the sky’s the limited for Willie. ”
Presently rated No. 7 by the United States Boxing Association, Nelson made his pro debut on May 19, 2006, stopping Diego Villalba in the third round. As his famous namesake’s famous song says, ever since Willie pro debut in New York City he’s has been ‘On The Road Again,” fighting all across the country in Connecticut, Michigan, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, California, New Jersey and finally Texas against Arroyo.
The gifted welterweight whose physical make-up reminds fans of Tommy Hearns — despite Willie being 2 ½ inches taller — won his first 10 pro fights until hitting a small bump in the road, a six-round draw in 2008 versus fellow undefeated welterweight Antonio Johnson. Six straight victories followed until that fateful day last April when he dropped a close majority-decision to Arroyo.
Boxers often react to their first losses in extreme fashion, one way or the other, learning from their experience and progressing, or becoming an opponent after being exposed. Nelson can’t wait to get back into the ring in order to show everybody what he’s learned from his first taste of adversity as a professional.
“I learned that I needed to pick myself up and become more focused in training and coaching,” Willie commented. “I had been with the same coach for 14 years and, I think, over the years he probably let me get away with some mistakes. After my last fight, I realized that he wasn’t telling me in the corner what I needed to hear. I’m more comfortable with Jack, who I’ve known 14 years, and he’s been to the top with Kelly Pavlik.
“I think I’d become a little cocky, maybe arrogant, and losing may have helped me. I was used to doing what I was supposed to do, but each fight isn’t a walk in the park. I had an I-can’t-be-beat attitude. Now, though, I appreciate winning even more. I went right back in the gym and didn’t need to discuss losing because it wasn’t the first time I’d lost in boxing. I’d lost as an amateur. I’m still confident and still make mistakes, everybody makes mistakes, but I’m training hard to make fewer mistakes.
“I’m learning how to use my size, firing stiff jabs instead of staying inside where I can get hit with big punches. I’m starting to use my power, too. I need more rounds and can’t wait to get back in the ring.”
Loew believes Nelson hasn’t come close to realizing his vast potential. “As tall and thin as Willie is,” Jack explained,” he’s very strong and can bench press 280 pounds. That’s very strong for a welterweight and he’s learning how to use his power. No 5′ 8″ fighter like Arroyo should beat a guy almost 6’ 4″ like Willie. He had some bad habits, kept lunging in, and got caught. Everybody told him he had to make changes and he did.
“Willie made some big changes, leaving his four kids in Cleveland when he moved to Youngstown, right next door to Dannie Williams in Youngstown, and he goes home on weekends. I’ve been telling him he needed help since he was 14-0. Everybody close to him was telling him that because he was winning but not getting better. He’s so freakishly tall with a lot of amateur experience, but he lost when he fought his first real fighter. He was making amateur mistakes and it caught up with him in his last fight. He’s learning how to use his height and working on snapping punches.”