Mike Wilson has waited for his chance to make a splash in professional boxing.
That opportunity is at hand.
Wilson, a 35-year-old undefeated cruiserweight from Central Point, will fight for the vacant North American Boxing Association title Saturday at Rogue Valley Rumble 9 at the Jackson County Expo.
Wilson (18-0), a former two-time super heavyweight amateur national champion, will headline the seven-fight card when he faces Mario Aguilar of San Luis Rio Colorado, Mexico, in a scheduled 10-rounder.
Aguilar, 27, is 18-3, and 16 of his victories have been by knockout.
Doors open at 6 p.m. and the first bout is at 7. General admission tickets are $20 in advance and can be purchased at Lil’ Pantry and Hawaiian Hut locations. They will be $25 at the door. Admission for kids ages 5 to 12 is $15, and kids 4 and under get in free.
Two other local fighters, Troy Wohosky and Abraham Martin, are also on the card.
Wilson, who co-owns WhiteDelight Promotions with his wife, Jenifer, the RV Rumble promotor, has had little trouble in establishing his perfect record while seeking an opportune time to step up his game.
Recent machinations in the cruiserweight division (up to 200 pounds) have created an opening.
“There’s a lot on the line this time,” said Wilson.
The winner of his fight will be declared NABA champion, and with that comes a top-15 ranking in the four major sanctioning bodies — the World Boxing Association, World Boxing Council, International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Organization.
As this fight unfolds, the cruiserweight division is sorting out its best fighters with the World Boxing Super Series that has reached the final stage. In a bracketed tournament, eight of the best fighters in the world have competed since the fall. The May championship fight pits Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk against Russian Murat Gassiev.
“Right now is a great time in the cruiserweight division,” said Wilson, noting that top fighters “took each other out.”
“Once this tournament gets over with, it’s gonna open up a big door for all of us next guys coming up,” he said.
Wilson, who began his pro career in 2009, is the seventh-ranked cruiserweight in the U.S. and 59th in the world (out of 1,202), according to boxrec.com. Aguilar is second in Mexico and 301st in the world.
Wilson’s last fight was in September, when he defeated Melvin Russell in a 10-round unanimous decision.
“We’re kind of getting to the last portion of our career,” said Wilson, whose birthday was three weeks ago, “and this is exactly what we needed to do. It takes a long time to get to these big opportunities. You have to move all the parts and pieces around. This will kind of fast-track us into a huge fight.”
The NABA was formed in 1997. Its last cruiserweight champion was Alex Guerrero, who had the belt for 1½ years before he was stripped of it in 2016.
Wilson said he is not looking past Aguilar, but the game plan for his team is to win on Saturday, secure the top-15 ranking, then have the leading cruiserweights “start calling us. It’d be a dream come true to get a six-figure payday.”
The opportunity is big for Aguilar, too, said Wilson, who described his opponent as a proud fighter, tough and determined, who is trying to “put food on the table.”
Like Wilson, Aguilar is a right-hander. He’s not fancy, and will come straight toward Wilson and pack a punch.
Aguilar has fought six times in the past 14 months. He won by technical knockout in his most recent fight in November over countryman Ricardo Rodriguez.
Aguilar had lost his previous two bouts.
Taking on someone with power presents a challenge, said Wilson.
“Sometimes when you fight a guy with that kind of power, it actually makes you sharper,” he said. “You’ve got to be on your toes, have your hands up and finish with your hands up and just fight smart.”
Wilson is coming off one of his best training camps, he said, working with trainers Jimmy and Joe Pedrojetti. They began training eight weeks out.
“We’re peaking at the right time,” said Wilson. “Right at the end of last week, I thought, man, we are right where we need to be.”
“We’re in tremendous shape, and I’m just hungry,” he added. “I’m hungry to get this fight out of the way, I’m hungry to eat, and I’m hungry to see what comes here after afterward.”
In other fights:
Martin (2-0) faces Alberto Rivas (3-0) of Bend in a four-round, co-main event at 189 pounds. They met twice as amateurs, each winning once.
“There’s going to be some fireworks in that fight,” said Wilson.
Wohosky (3-2), owner of Spartan Boxing Gym, battles Derick Bartlemay of Salem in a five-round, 137-pound match. Bartlemay was a late replacement for Felipe Medina, who broke a hand while sparring.
Frank Sanchez (4-0), who escaped from Cuba and trains under former renowned referee Richard Steele in Las Vegas, faces Brian Green (1-1) of Des Moines, Iowa, for six rounds at 210.
Green’s loss was to the late Kimbo Slice in 2012. Both were also established mixed-martial arts fighters.
Brennon Crow (0-1) of Redding, California, goes against Nicholas Jefferson (3-0) of Tacoma, Washington, for four rounds at 147.
Doc Barron (9-10) of Anacortes, Washington, squares off against Mike Bissett (14-10) of St. Petersburg, Florida, for four rounds at heavyweight. Wilson defeated Bissett by unanimous decision in 2016.
Nit Phoumychack (0-0) of Cottonwood, California, fights Chris Johnson (0-0) of Bend for four rounds at 148.
— Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479 or firstname.lastname@example.org