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Mike Wilson is a former member of the Medford Bulldog Boxing Club.

Answering the Bell

Mike Wilson took his time mapping a professional boxing career.

Now it looks like he's headed in the right direction.

Wilson, the decorated amateur super heavyweight from Central Point, has taken up with a renowned trainer and, by all indications, a stable management group and could have his first fight within a month.

"This is my job," says Wilson, 26, a two-time U.S. national champion who barely missed out on representing America in the Beijing Olympics. "They're paying me just to train and be in shape. There's no b.s. I'm on their time now."

Wilson signed a five-year deal in late February with a Tennessee-based real estate and development company that also has under its entrepreneurial umbrella a boxing management arm, headed by Chris Rowland. The fighter gets a monthly stipend and a place to live in Colorado Springs, Colo., where his trainer, Dickie Wood, resides.

Wood is no slouch, either. Since the first of March, Wilson has been with him in Miami as Wood prepares former middleweight champion Jermain Taylor for an April 25 title fight against Carl Froch, holder of the World Boxing Council super middleweight belt. Wood has also trained former champs Chico Corrales and Buddy McGirt.

Wilson's first fight could come as early as the Taylor-Froch under card at Mashantucket, Conn. Another option is a May 9 card in Las Vegas.

Before signing, Wilson brought the contract home for perusal by his family and the Pedrojetties — Joe, founder of the Bulldog Boxing Club at which Wilson learned the craft, and his son, Jim, who was Wilson's primary trainer.

"Mike is like a part of the family," says Jim Pedrojetti, noting that Wilson joined the club at age 12. "He's going on and we're very proud of him. We feel like it's a great opportunity. They're willing to invest in him, and they're not taking anything the first year or two out of the purses."

Those in boxing circles know of countless stories about young fighters being rushed into bad situations, never to be heard from again.

Jim Pedrojetti is confident Wilson is in the right hands. Because he's on Rowland's payroll, Wilson won't be put in fights as an "opponent" against whom others can advance their careers.

"We're very happy he's connected with good people," says Jim Pedrojetti. "There are so many sharks in professional boxing, it's ridiculous."

After the Olympic trials in 2007, Wilson took time to consider his options and heal up from years in the amateur ranks. It's estimated he had well over 100 fights and but a dozen or so losses.

Wilson closed out his amateur career by placing second by one point to Mike Hunter in the 2007 U.S. Championships, then by losing another one-point decision a couple months later in August to Kimbo Bethel at the trials. Hunter then defeated Bethel for the Olympic berth.

Last April, Wilson had surgery on a troublesome right hand. The operation fused the index and middle fingers back to his wrist and kept him from punching anything for six months. Upon recuperating, he took advantage of a few more USA Boxing events and mulled his pro avenues.

Wood and Wilson have worked together on and off for five years, including at nationals a couple times, so they seem to be a good fit. The 32-year trainer is impressed with Wilson's work ethic — "I can ask him to do anything and he never complains," says Wood — and Wilson's disdain for losing.

The 6-foot-3 Wilson has put on about 15 pounds, to get to 226, which is where he should stay, says Wood.

He'll start his career with four-round fights and work up to six-, eight- and 10-rounders.

Wilson's early foes will be hand-picked and aren't likely to be near the level of those he toiled against as one of the nation's top amateurs.

"I think he'll walk through the first two or three years of his pro career and anyone who steps in our way," says Wood. "Then it'll be up to the world-class level, and by then he'll have experience and will have learned the craft a little better."

There's a difference between amateur boxing and the pros, says Wilson. The former requires lots of action because points are scored by the number of punches landed.

"The pro style is a lot different," he says. "It's more of a power game. You can relax and sit down on your punches and try to hurt people. I think I'll adjust just fine. I've been doing this my whole life. I'm pretty excited about it."

Wilson has exceptionally fast hands for a heavyweight, says Wood, a result of "great fast-twitch fibers," and he moves well. His power, long an area in which gains could be made, and speed have increased, and his endurance is 30 percent better due to an improved diet and regular training.

Wilson's style could resemble that of Evander Holyfield's, says Wood, only with better defense.

"Evander would get in a gutter war and wouldn't care if he got hit or not," says the trainer.

Ideally, Wilson will have better head movement and put angles and feints to better use.

"Being a smart fighter, you don't have to get in and go to war every time," says Wood. "There are times that happens, and we'll be prepared for that, too. But we'll give a lot of different looks and dictate the fights.

"Mike's a world-class fighter. Together, I hope we complement each other enough to win a world title. I don't see it not happening. I don't see anything stopping us. That's not being cocky. That's being confident in his ability."

And for his part, Wilson is ready to go to work.

Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 776-4479, or e-mail ttrower@mailtribune.com

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