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COVID forces postponement of Wilson’s fight with Hunter

Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneMike Wilson at his home garage qym in Central Point.
Main draw on card, Lopez, tests positive; entire card moved to Aug. 14

Mike Wilson took a massive gut punch today, and the Central Point boxer facing the biggest fight of his life wasn’t even in the ring.

Wilson, who was to square off against Michael Hunter in a 10-round World Boxing Association heavyweight eliminator bout Saturday in Miami, learned when his plane touched down in Florida that the fight was pushed back two months because the main draw on the card, Teofimo Lopez, tested positive today for COVID-19.

Lopez, the undisputed lightweight champion, was scheduled to headline a huge event at loanDepot Park against mandatory challenger George Kambosos Jr., but the entire card has been postponed until Aug. 14.

The next venue has not been determined, but it won’t be at loandDepot, according to the Miami Herald, because of a conflict with the Miami Marlins, who play their home baseball games there.

Lopez is symptomatic, according to various news outlets, including ESPN and TMZ.

The boxing was part of an entertainment gala billed as “Miami’s first full open seating event post-COVID” at the newly renamed loanDepot park, according to the Herald. A rap concert featuring Meek Mill, Gente De Zona and Farruko was to be part of the festivities.

Wilson, 38, who has trained extremely hard and is in outstanding shape, was beside himself when he learned the news.

“I’m not even at baggage claim at the airport,” he said when reached by phone shortly before 4 p.m. Eastern Time. “We got to Miami and I turned my phone on when we taxied down, and my phone started ringing. I was thinking, no, that can’t be.”

He’s been training since the fight with the 32-year-old Hunter was announced in late April. It will be a rematch of a 2007 meeting between the two in the super heavyweight title bout at the U.S. Championships. Wilson led going into the final round but lost, 25-24.

Hunter is the seventh-ranked heavyweight in the WBA, and Wilson is 13th.

“We’ve put in a really good, long training camp,” said Wilson, comparing the circumstances to a bad dream, “and we’re all the way here. If it had been any other fighter, they would have just replaced the fight and gone on with the card.”

“This is a first for me,” he added, “and hopefully the last. It’s kind of a weird situation here. With such a big event, it’s just very unfortunate.”

He and his team planned to go to the hotel where the fight is headquartered and expected to learn more details of the postponement.

Wilson didn’t know how it would affect his training between now and mid-August.

“It’s still a little too early,” he said. “We’ll still just kind of keep grinding. That’s all we can do. I was just telling (trainer) Jimmy (Pedrojetti) last week, it’s so nice with this fight being in June instead of August sometime. You get to enjoy some of your summer. Leading up to this, you’ve got some spare time, but it’s just train, train, train. You really can’t enjoy yourself.”

Wilson has a 21-1-0 record with 10 knockouts and has been the WBA North American champion for three years. He twice won the U.S. super heavyweight championship.

Before joining the pro ranks, Hunter, from Las Vegas, won a second U.S. crown and represented America in the 2012 Olympics.

His pro record is 19-1-1, the lone loss coming by unanimous decision against Oleksandr Usyk in a bout for the World Boxing Organization cruiserweight title in 2017.

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