Liam Wilson needs no reminding about the “emotional rollercoaster” and “heartache” that was his last camp.
By his own account, the Queenslander was “a different partner and a different dad and not an enjoyable one either” as he prepared for a rematch against Joe Noynay, the man who handed Wilson his first career loss.
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But now, Wilson (10-1, 7KO) has finally closed the Noynay chapter of his life for good and turns his attention to Argentinian world no. 8 Matias Rueda (37-1, 32KO) as the two will face off in a super featherweight bout in Brisbane on June 29.
To get to this point, where a win could catapult the 26-year-old within touching distance of a world title fight, Wilson had to conquer the demons that haunted him 24 hours a day, seven days a week thanks to the loss to Noynay .
Even if he was still enjoying the training and the sparring and everything else that comes with the boxing element of a fight camp, Wilson admits that his rematch against Noynay was a “ticking bomb” that could have sent everything spiraling out of control.
“What if I lost, what if this happened, what if that happened, could I come back if I lost again,” Wilson told foxsports.com.au.
“It wasn’t just the boxing side of things. It branched off into my personal life. I know it’s a pretty cliche thing to say that in a training camp you’re grumpy and moody and the partner’s got to put up with it.
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“Last time around with Noynay, I was like that. But I was a different partner and different dad and not an enjoyable one either.
“I wasn’t really myself. It was like my life around me really was crumbling down and it was coming down to nothing.
“My priority on the boxing side of things is always there, but my family life and personal life was really crumbling down until I got that win.
“It was just a ticking bomb. I was counting down the days and weeks of the fight to happen and I couldn’t wait to get it out of the way.”
Beating his tormentor — who rocked up to their rematch two divisions overweight — via knockout in the second round was the perfect way for Wilson to diffuse that ticking bomb.
After that fight, the 26-year-old had a much-needed two months off when he didn’t even take so much as one step into a boxing gym.
For his camp against Rueda, Wilson has been able to approach it with a more “enjoyable” and, more than anything, “relieved” mindset.
It also helps that he’s taking a step into the unknown against Rueda, a man who has lost just one fight which came against Oscar Valdez with the WBO featherweight title on the line back in 2016.
With 32 of Rueda’s 37 wins coming via KO/TKO, Wilson knows he and his team must be on the top of their game to ensure the Aussie leaves with his hand raised.
But it’s not necessarily the Argentine’s knockout power that makes him such a tough fight for Wilson.
Instead, it’s just how good he is at the fundamentals of the sport.
“He’s (Rueda) been around the block for a long time,” Wilson said.
“I think for you to get past 37 fighters successfully, you have to be dangerous. You have to have skill and know your way around the ring, and that’s what he’s got.
“He’s a knockout puncher. That’s something that’s got us cautious as a team, we have to be very wary of that.
“He’s tough, he’s very basic but he does the basics correct. They’re the hard fights because they don’t make many mistakes.”
So, how does Wilson overcome a man that does all the little things right?
“This time around, we’re really focusing on boxing,” Wilson said.
“We did it in the rematch against Joe Noynay and it worked a treat. We’ve gone back to that and we plan on doing that from now on because if we brawl, we’re not really separating ourselves from anyone else in Australia.
“But our boxing ability is what separates me from other boxers in Australia. I’ve got the platform, now I just need to get in there and perform and show everyone how good a boxer I am. I’m really motivated to do that, I’ve been training to do that and I’ve just gone back to basics and boxing.”
The bout against Rueda is just the 12th professional fight in Wilson’s career, but a win over the 34-year-old would have the WBO’s world no. 6 in line for a potential title eliminator or a title shot.
In the super featherweight division, Shakur Stevenson is the champ while Archie Sharp is the top contender.
The thought of fighting either man so soon into his pro career is, by Wilson’s own admission, “crazy” and he puts it down to his willingness to take risks and win.
Although his future opponents will almost certainly not be Australian, there is one last fighter from home soil that Wilson would be encouraged to fight.
In the early portion of the Justis Huni v Joe Goodall broadcast, Paul Fleming called out Wilson in the hopes of securing a fight.
Wilson is happy to make it happen, but believes it all comes down to Fleming walking the talk.
“I kind of had a little laugh because he keeps saying he wants to get paid, but that’s a money thing,” Wilson said.
“What are we paying for exactly? He’s ranked lower than me and you’ve got to ask him that question, what are we paying for?
“He’s been sitting around for 10 years, he’s 28-0 fighting Uber drivers in my area. I’m 11 fights in and I’m ranked much higher than he is.
“I think Australia knows I will take that fight, there’s no question about it. It’s completely up to him and his team. It’s probably the only fight in Australia I do want. Whether that happens or not, that’s completely up to Paul’s side.”