Liam Wilson is that close to a world title shot that he can almost smell it.
But there’s just one towering hurdle he must clear before he can even think of going for the belts and it comes in the form of Argentinian star Matias Rueda.
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Wilson (10-1, 7KO), the No. 6 super featherweight in the WBO rankings, will face Rueda (37-1, 32KO) on Wednesday night at the Brisbane Convention Center for the WBO international super featherweight title in a fight that both stand to gain so much but lose even more.
The Argentina, ranked No. 8 in the WBO rankings, is undeniably Wilson’s toughest challenge to date and unlike anyone the Queenslander has ever fought before.
For starters, Rueda’s record speaks for itself.
In 38 professional fights, the 34-year-old has tasted defeat just once and that came against Oscar Valdez for the WBO, WBC and The Ring magazine super featherweight titles.
That loss was also six years ago and in the time since, Rueda continued to pummel opponents and knock them out left, right and centre.
It is Rueda’s ability to finish the fight – and finish it quickly – that has No Limit Boxing CEO George Rose fully aware of the “dangerous” evening that awaits Wilson.
“He can end a fight with one punch,” Rose told foxsports.com.au,
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“He’s got that knockout power. You look at his record and that backs up the power that he has.
“His only loss came in a world title fight against Oscar Valdez who’s one of the best in the division.
“Rueda, 37 wins and 32 knockouts, he can end the fight pretty quick. If Liam’s not 100 percent on his game, it’s a very dangerous fight for Liam.
“When you step up to this standard, it’s a very dangerous time. It really shows you as a fighter where you’re at.”
Main Event’s Ben Damon also acknowledged Rueda’s mind-blowing ability to produce a stoppage and noted just how difficult it is to emerge as the top contender in the weight division in Argentina, a nation stocked with quality boxers.
“Matias Rueda has knocked out 32 opponents in his 37 wins – an 85 percent KO ratio is an intimidating thing and it’s clear his strength is his power,” Damon said.
“You don’t get to number eight in the world with the WBO, which is one of the more reputable organisations, for no reason.
“He’s also the number one super featherweight in Argentina and they have over sixty active fighters in the division so he’s not a guy who is going to travel overseas for a beating – he will believe that he wins this fight and jumps even further up the rankings and ultimately gets himself a second shot at a world title.”
Indeed, Rueda isnt fighting outside of North and South America for the first time just to stroll around South Bank and soak up the Brisbane scenery.
He’s arrived with bad intentions and when quizzed on why he took a fight deep in enemy territory, Rueda’s answer was simple: “Because I know I will win it.”
To get to where he is now has not been a straightforward journey for Rueda.
Born and raised in Tandil, a town with approximately 140,000 people and the same place Argentinian tennis star Juan Martin Del Potro calls home, Rueda’s first language was talking with his feet rather than his hands.
“Initially I was a soccer player,” Rueda said.
“When I stopped playing it, I entered a boxing gym and little by little I realized I had good skills for this sport and that’s how it all started.
“I only lost one fight as an amateur from around 40 fights and was a provincial champion.”
Against Wilson, Rueda is taking on a fighter who has just 11 professional fights to his name.
But don’t think for a second that the 34-year-old has left any stone unturned in his preparation.
“I had enough time of notice so I was able to plan a good training camp,” Rueda said.
“I trained very hard as it’s a very important fight for my career.
“He (Wilson) is a good boxer, a good prospect, he has good leg movement.
“There weren’t many videos of his fights available on the internet, but we analyzed him as much as we could.”
Time will tell as to whether Rueda’s game plan devised from watching as much of Wilson as he could play out the way he anticipates, but with the duo’s combined record of highlight reel knockouts, sparks will undoubtedly fly on Wednesday night.