By Gord Bowes, News staff
Steve Wilcox wasn’t supposed to win a title this early in his professional career. But he wasn’t going to turn down a chance to be a national champ either.
Wilcox was on a working vacation in Las Vegas during the summer when he got the offer to fight for the vacant Canadian Professional Boxing Council light welterweight title.
He accepted and in Halifax on Aug. 24, Wilcox put a hurt on journeyman Marcel Maillet Jr. to win his first pro belt.
It was the first time Maillet had been stopped within the distance.
The east Mountain resident said he knew going into the bout it would be a tough fight.
“Before he fought me, he had been in the ring with some of the best in Canada and he had never been stopped,” said Wilcox. “Our goal was to win the belt and be the first one to stop him.”
A report on boxrec.com called the match a “one-sided fight” that was halted when Maillet’s face was “a curtain of blood from a bad nose injury.” Indeed, the judges’ scorecards showed Wilcox had won every round.
It was the Piranha’s fourth win by knockout and boosted his record to a perfect 8-0.
As an amateur boxer, Wilcox won 135 of his 170 fights, including two national titles and nine Ontario titles.
Wilcox’s career path wasn’t supposed to include a title fight until he had several more pro fights under his belt. A loss this early in his career could have hampered his opportunities later and he would have had to work his way up again, essentially starting again from zero.
Normally a lightweight, fighting at 135 pounds, he said it was not too difficult to fight as a light welterweight at 140. Though he only had about five weeks notice, Wilcox was already training in preparation for a possible fight in August.
“I walk around at about 142, so I only had to cut a little bit this time to make 140,” said the 23-year-old Wilcox.
“The weight wasn’t a big deal. It was nice weighing in at 140.”
Wilcox trains up to three times a day. He spends spends several mornings each week at Grant Bros. MMA in Toronto, works with conditioning coach Richard Cameron or strength coach Rousso Katsaros in the afternoons, and often trains with his dad, Bob, in the evenings back at the family’s Steeltown Boxing gym on the east Mountain.
Wilcox’s next fight is Nov. 29 at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga. He faces Alan Paredes, a 32-year-old southpaw from Peru with a 15-2-1 record.
His first CPBC light welterweight title defence has yet to be scheduled. Wilcox said he’s hoping it will be in Hamilton.
On Nov. 9 at the Hamilton Convention Centre, Steeltown is holding the third annual Fight for the Cure, an event held in memory of Wilcox’s brother Robbie, who died at age 7 from cancer. Along with Olympic-style boxing, there is a dinner starting at 6 p.m. Tickets are available at steeltownboxing.ca. Proceeds go to the Camp Trillium Childhood Cancer Support Centre.