Wilson to fight for world title

Central Point cruiserweight boxer Mike Wilson stepped out of the ring for an analogy that suits his newest — and most promising — opportunity.

“You can’t hit a home run if you don’t get up to home plate,” he said Thursday at a press conference to announce his next fight. “We’re at home plate now.”

Wilson, the undefeated North American Boxing Association champion, announced the biggest fight of his professional career. He’ll take on World Boxing Association champion Denis Lebedev, of Russia, on Nov. 24 in Monaco.

The fight will headline a card promoted by Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing and the Casino de Monte-Carlo, where it will be held. It’s the third edition of the Monte-Carlo Boxing Bonanza.

Wilson, 35, ran his record to 19-0 with eight knockouts when he won a unanimous decision over Mario Aguilar, of Mexico, at the Jackson County Expo on March 3.

Lebedev, a 39-year-old left-hander, is 31-2 with 23 knockouts.

Wilson was flanked by trainers Joe and Jimmy Pedrojetti at Chadwicks Pub and Sports Bar for the announcement. They spoke about the fight and Wilson’s boxing career, then signed the contract.

“This is the Super Bowl of boxing for us,” said Wilson. “We made it to the Super Bowl.”

Joe Pedrojetti told how, years ago, Wilson’s mother brought young Mike to the gym to get him started in boxing.

“This,” said Joe Pedrojetti, “is a shared dream that started 23 years ago.”

He noted that Wilson had more than 200 amateur fights, won two national championships and was a three-time Olympic alternate from ages 17 to 25.

“I’m tremendously confident,” said Joe Pedrojetti. “I’ve watched a lot of film and feel good about what I know. The people who have beaten him, Denis Lebedev, have been like Mike but not as good as Mike, honestly. We’re going to make a good showing there and, obviously, our goal is to bring a WBA belt back to Medford, Central Point.”

Jimmy Pedrojetti echoed his father’s sentiments.

He lauded Wilson’s work ethic and desire to train, even if it means 5 a.m. runs and working tirelessly in the gym.

Said Wilson, “It’s easy to get up in the morning (for this fight). You’re excited to do it. I’ve never been excited before.”

Wilson and his wife, Jenifer, have promoted their own “Rogue Valley Rumble” fights locally for several years.

He won’t have to worry about that for this one.

“This is like a vacation,” he joked.

The team has talked about a big-money fight for years, said Jimmy Pedrojetti. They didn’t dream it would be a world championship bout.

“He’s totally focused for this fight,” he said. “And like my dad said, we believe we’re going to win. We’re not there to pick up a paycheck and take a couple punches and lay down. We believe we’re gonna win this fight, and Mike believes it 100 percent. There’s no doubt in his mind.”

Wilson is no spring chicken in the fight game. Neither is Lebedev.

“We’re going over their to take the thing back,” said Wilson. “The timing’s right. This guy is a little long in the tooth now. It’s time for things to change hands, and it might as well be an American from right here in Central Point.”

As part of the training, Jimmy Pedrojetti said, Wilson’s team is raising funds to bring in left-handed sparring partners from Southern California at a cost of about $10,000 to $12,000 for four weeks of work.

“If we don’t see those left-handed looks,” said Jimmy Pedrojetti, “it’s gonna be difficult. You need to be able to get in front of left-handers, the pressure.”

Other fights on the Nov. 24 card will be Chinese heavyweight Zhilei Zhang (20-0) putting his World Boxing Organization title on the line against Russia’s Alexander Ustinov (34-2).

WBA super flyweight champ Kal Yafai (24-0) takes on Mexico’s Israel Gonzalez (23-2).

Brit Frank Buglioni (23-3-1) fights China’s undefeated International Boxing Federation intercontinental light heavyweight champion Fanlong Meng (13-0).

Kazakhstan’s Rio Olympic gold medallist, Daniyar Yeleussinov (3-0) will also be in the card.

Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479 or ttrower@rosebudmedia.com

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