Cleveland’s Willie “The Great” Nelson (17-1-1, 11 KOs) may have come up a little short in his ShoBox: The New Generation debut against Vincent Arroyo last April, but he’s planning on doing what all great fighters can do: come back stronger than ever.
Nelson and his training team and promoters, Rumble Time Promotions, are focused on making the second time the charm when he faces Cuba’s Yudel Jhonson (12-0, 8 KOs) this Friday, May 11, in the 10-round junior middleweight main event of the ShoBox: The New Generation telecast (11 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the West Coast) presented by Warriors Boxing, entitled “Shootout at Texas Station”, from the Texas Station Gambling Hall & Hotel in Las Vegas.
The eight-round co-featured battle of undefeated super middleweights Badou Jack “The Ripper” (10-0, 8 KOs) of Sweden and Colombia’s power-punching Alexander Brand (17-0, 15 KOs) will go on as scheduled.
Original opponent Jhonson opponent Freddy Hernandez was forced to pull out with an injury and Nelson stepped in on 11 days’ notice. “We were training for a six-round tune-up fight a week later, so I’ve been working very hard and I’m in great shape,” said Nelson of his decision to take this important fight on short notice. “When this opportunity came to showcase my talents and progress on Showtime, I could not turn it down. We were hoping for a big TV fight this summer, so when this opportunity came up it was very exciting. I have been there before and this time, I’ll be ready!”
25-year-old Nelson says his only reservation about fighting Jhonson was weight. “Weight was a big consideration. We were just deciding to leave the welterweight division and it was important to agree on a catch weight of 152 pounds because it just would not be smart to step right in and fight a guy at 156-157 pounds on short notice. My instinct is to jump in and fight anybody, but my team helped me make smart decisions.”
A former USA and European amateur champion, Nelson says he has great respect for his opponent Jhonson. “He comes from a great line of Cuban fighters, and like me, he had an extensive and successful amateur career. As a pro, he has had only 12 fights and none against anyone that can do the things I can do. I respect Yudel, but I look forward to beating him.”
“I’m excited to have my 6′ 3″ beast back on Showtime!” exclaimed Nelson’s much less reserved promoter, Steven Smith of Rumble Time Promotions. “He had a rough outing last time he was on ShoBox! He had some personal things going on in his life and wasn’t fully focused! He back and ready to destroy! I’m anxious to let Willie expose this overrated Cuban fighter! Willie has all the tools to shatter Jhonson’s dream. He’s tall, fast and can punch with a great amateur and pro background. I think Willie knocks him out in round six!”
Nelson has switched trainers since the close decision loss to Arroyo. He is now working with Jack Loew, of Kelly Pavlik fame. Losing to Arroyo, he says, was a learning experience. “After losing that fight, I had to go back and work on some defense and use some of my advantages better. I switched trainers. I had a long experience with my old trainer, dating way back to my amateur success. He is a fantastic trainer, but sometimes you need a change to shake you up and improve on things that you hadn’t done in the past. I think my current style reflects that. Since I joined (trainer) Jack Loew and the rest of my team in Youngstown, we have been working so hard to prepare me to showcase my skills.”
Tickets for “Shootout at Texas Station” are on sale now, priced at $27 and $52 and are available at Ticketmaster, any Texas Station rewards center or at SCLV.COM/CONCERTS. A few VIP seats are available at a price of $102 can be purchased by calling (954) 985-1155.
On fight night, doors open at 6:30 and the action starts at 7:00 pm.