FORT MYERS, Fla. (May 27, 2013) - The once promising career of former amateur standout Derrick Wilson (9-4-2, 3 KOs) is at the crossroads for his 10-round main event fight this Saturday night against undefeated featherweight Braulio Santos (10-0, 9 KOs) in Sunrise, Florida.
Wilson, fighting out of Fort Myers (FL), was a 2004 National Silver Gloves champion. He won 50 of 57 amateur bouts, all losses coming in national competition, but he's been relegated to the "B" side as an opponent throughout most of his professional career.
"I took a different route than usual because I didn't have the right backing," Wilson explained. "I come from a small town, Fort Myers, and after my first pro fight I signed with a manager who brought me to Miami. I left my trainer, Larry Wills, who taught me everything, and went from trainer to trainer. I was young and living by myself in Miami. I've been through a lot but I'm back working with Coach Larry.
The 24-year-old won his first four pro fights, drew on the road with unbeaten (6-0-1) Kermit Gonzalez, and then registered his most significant victory thus far against 11-0 Charles Huerta in Los Angeles. Wilson showed his promise by stopping Huerta in the opening round, after which he signed a contract with Golden Boy Promotions.
"I was supposed to lose to Huerta," Wilson said. "All the hype was about him but I won that fight in his hometown. I took it on short notice but knew that I was going to win. I just didn't give him a chance. I missed an overhand right, blocked a punch as I pulled back, and then I hit him with a left hook that made his whole body shake."
Unaware of same-day weigh-ins in Pennsylvania versus Philadelphia, Wilson was weak when he entered the ring in Philadelphia versus Guadalupe De Leon (7-9), and he proceeded to lose a four-round split decision. Wilson then fought another draw on the road, to Adam Ocha, followed with a win by four-round decision over Samuel Sanchez.
Next up was a fight in Denver against 7-0 Ricky Lopez, who was decked in the opening round, en route to a loss by six-round decision. Four months later, Wilson avenged his loss to DeLeon, taking one-sided eight round decision in Florida, which set-up a World Boxing Council Youth Intercontinental title fight against future Puerto Rican world champion, Javier Fortuna. Fortuna (13-0, 10 KOs) knocked out a game Wilson in the eighth round.
"I had no business being in that fight with Fortuna," Wilson admitted. "I had trained only two weeks, not knowing he was left-handed and sparring right-handers. It was a close fight until it stopped."
Wilson bounced back with a first-round technical knockout of Mario Lacey, but Derrick has lost his last two fights against Alejandro Perez (15-3-1) and Luis Rosa (11-0), respectively, by eighth-round knockout and eight-round decision.
"This is a great fight for him," Wilson's manager Si Stern noted about Saturday's match-up versus Santos. "I give Golden Boy credit. Things didn't work out when they signed Derrick but they still think enough of him to put him in the main event against their undefeated prospect. When Derrick has his mind straight, he's one helluva fighter who is very tough. If he wins this fight, the sky's the limit."
Four of upset-minded Wilson's nine victories have come against undefeated opponents. He's determined to turn his career around by defeating another unbeaten opponent, hard-hitting Santos, this Saturday evening.
"People haven't seen the real me, yet, but they will in this fight," Wilson concluded. "This is my first fight back with my coach. I'm sharp with speed and quickness; my speed will confuse him. I won't be loading up like I have in the past. A win will boost me up. I'm going in as the opponent but I'm not going to be used as a stepping-stone anymore.
"I never had people picking the right opponents for me like some fighters. I wasn't in a position to turn down fights. I took some on late notice and fought in everybody's backyard. Now, I have Si as my manager. I need to prove myself to get on the 'A' side and this fight could do that for me."