PHILLY BOXING HISTORY                                                                     November 17, 2011


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When you are an over-achieving fighter like Garrett Wilson, it seems that you're never as good as your last fight. Score a big victory like he did in in his rematch with Omar Sheika to win the USBA cruiserweight belt, and those suspicious boxing fans expect you to falter your next time out. It's as if they can't imagine an underdog fighter doing it again. But Wilson's originally inconsistent career has been on an upward swing in the past year or so, thanks to a new state of mind, a new trainer, and a little success. Riding a four-bout unbeaten streak, Wilson has never been in a better position to make his name in boxing.

After losing his first three fights in 2010, Garrett closed the year with three performances that showed that he had a future in his game of choice. In July, he blasted Reshawn Scott out in the first round. He followed that with a "hometown draw" in favor of Andres Taylor in Johnstown, PA, and then produced shocking TKO win over a rising 20-2-1 Aaron Williams in Ohio. Wilson entered that fight with just an 8-5-1 record. He was there to be beaten, but came away a prospect.

Wilson credits his winning run to trainer Rodney Rice, who hopped on board after those three straight losses.

"Look at what I've done since Rodney's been my trainer. I'd say the relationship is pretty good", Wilson said with a laugh before his sparring session with Dhafir Smith at the Shuler Gym in West Philly.

Trainer Rodney Rice feels his charge is improving every time out and is poised to move forward.

"I don't think there is anyone in the cruiserweight division who can beat Garrett. His mindset has changed so much. It's hard to get a guy out of thinking like an opponent", Rice said. "Instead of getting in the ring and saying 'let's see what this guy can do to me', Garrett goes in and worries about what he's going to do to him."

Rice also credits strength conditioner Liz Sherman with Garrett's increased power and recent winning ways. "She's my right hand", Rice said.

In his only fight thus far 2011, Wilson reversed a prior loss to Omar Sheika in impressive fashion to take the vacant USBA title. Wilson cemented his promise with that fight, withstanding the still-dangerous Sheika's punches to dominate on the scorecards. He won the entertaining fight going away, and although many of us thought he'd make good against Sheika, none of us figured he'd do it in such style. So all of a sudden, the affable Wilson found himself near the top and ready to make a move in the cruiserweight division.

But his attempts to secure a high-profile bout have fallen flat. His misleading record of 10-5-1 (4 KO) attracts fighters, but puts off network executives. He came close to landing a match with undefeated climber Lateef Kayode (18-0, 14 KOs) this summer, but the fight disintegrated before his eyes. To rising fighters, a guy like Wilson is more trouble that he's worth. So Kayode fought someone else. Wilson would still like an opportunity with the Nigerian KO artist. Call it a grudge fight. But with the Kayode fight removed from his path, Wilson remained in the gym and waited for the call - any call to fight.

Enter popular Wildwood, NJ boxer Chuck Mussachio. Peltz Boxing matched the pair in a 12-rounder at Bally's AC for Wilson's USBA championship. The fight goes down this Saturday night (November 19).

At 17-1-2 with 5 KOs, "The Professor" poses an interesting  challenge for Wilson, "The Ultimate Warrior". In fact, he's the exact opposite of the champ.

At 6'1", Mussachio is tall and rangy to Wilson's shorter (5'9") and stockier physique. Chuck is a boxer with a long  jab that could give Wilson fits. However, Garrett, despite a modest knockout percentage (4 KOs in 10 wins) is a dangerous young  man. He's a pressure fighter that is willing to chase down a mobile foe, and Mussachio has all the tools to keep Wilson away. Because of these differences in size and style, I think the fight has the makings of a very good one.

Further, both guys need this win.

For Garrett, a victory validates this new chapter of his career, proves that he's learned on the job, and keeps him alive in his quest for a big fight. The confident and willing Wilson knows in his heart that he can compete on the elite level, and is trying to convince the rest of the boxing world of that belief. He must defeat Mussachio to continue to make that argument. A loss will raise questions about how good he really is and may set him back to club fighter status.

Mussachio has had a charmed local career, with a loyal fan base and well built record. He's scored wins over a worn Carl Daniels, an undefeated Tony Ferrante and a young Anthony Hemphill. But he lost to Tommy Karpency in a bid for a fringe regional title a couple of years ago. He has also suffered heavy personal losses in the past year that can either motivate him or cloud his focus. Chuck has shown promise through the years, but at 32 needs to make a move sooner than later. Wilson, and that USBA title (and IBF ranking) represent his gateway to the next level.

Mussachio has more to win in this fight, but Wilson has more to lose. That sets the stage for a fight that matters.

So which way will it go?

I can see either man winning this one, so it comes down to how effective they execute their plans. The script is set. Mussachio must keep the fight at a distance, while Wilson has to get close to land his shots and impose his will. 

Mussachio has shown that he can box and that he's tough. But is he rugged enough to keep a raging Wilson at bay?

Wilson proved against Sheika that he doesn't have to score a KO to win, but Sheika was far more willing to trade than Mussachio will be. Although the decision against Sheika was clear-cut for Wilson, the fight wasn't easy. Can Wilson again put it all on the line for twelve long rounds? Can he also keep that positive attitude focused through a shower of Mussachio left jabs?

I see Mussachio jabbing, boxing and frustrating Wilson to start the fight. Wilson will try to move his head away from the stick, but more shots will land than miss. However twelve rounds is a long time to keep a steamroller off you. I see Wilson  getting closer as the fight wears on, working well to Mussachio's body, and taking over after a while.

"I see me winning whether it be by decision or knockout", said Wilson. "I don't call the fights, I just get in there and handle business."

And I think he will. Either way, this should be a good one.




John DiSanto - West Philly - November 17, 2011