Aussie fighter Liam Wilson protests the 27 seconds it took the referee to count to 10

Liam Wilson is ordered to his corner after flooring Emanuel Navarrete with a powerhouse combination in the title fight's fourth round. <i>Photo: AAP</i>

Liam Wilson is ordered to his corner after flooring Emanuel Navarrete with a powerhouse combination in the title fight's fourth round. Photo: AAP

Liam Wilson insists he will eventually move on from an agonising world title loss to Emanuel Navarrete, demanding only the “big fights” as he grapples with what could have been.

The shattered Australian will return home without the WBO super featherweight strap he thought he’d won in shocking, upset fashion after knocking the Mexican to the canvas in the fourth round in Phoenix on Friday night.

Wilson’s team have launched a protest, saying the red-hot favourite was given 27 seconds – not the traditional 10 – to regain his senses when a devastating left-right combination floored him.

The now three-division champion – Navarrete (37-1) has 11 wins from 11 title fights compared to Wilson’s 13 professional fights in total – showed his wares by appearing to deliberately spit his mouthguard and stall referee Chris Flores as the count neared 10.

Flores opted unusually to put it straight back in Navarrete’s mouth, rather than hand it to his corner.

Dazed and confused

But he put it in upside down, allowing Navarrete, whose “eyes were spinning” according to Wilson, crucial extra seconds to regain his senses.

With the backing of a surging and loudly partisan Arizona crowd he then launched an incredible comeback to win via ninth-round stoppage at Desert Diamond Arena.

It was a life-altering moment for the unheralded Wilson, whose victory on US debut would have been at least equal to the shock world title upsets of Jeff Horn five years ago or Jeff Harding nearly 30 years before that.

“He was wobbly after he got up, but it shouldn’t have got to there,” a battered Wilson said, while pondering on what would have been Naverrete’s first loss since 2012.

“I can put it behind me so long as the whole world knows that. And the people who witnessed it know that.

“That stuff (footage) doesn’t lie.”

An emotional Wilson was struggling to come to terms with the near-miss, particularly after promising his late father Peter a world title on his death bed 11 years ago.

Promoter Matt Rose, of No Limit, hopes their protest leads to a no-result and a rematch but told AAP that, regardless of the outcome, another world title shot – this time in Queensland – was still their goal.

“It was an unbelievable performance,” he said. “He really showed he is world-class. Navarrete is a three-division world champion and no one gave him a chance. He still shocked the world.

‘Warrior’ wants a rematch

“Liam is a warrior, he is the type of fighter people love to watch and support.

“We go back, put him on the big stage in Australia and show Australia we’ve got a little champion that’s worth following.

“Not many fighters around the world fight like he does.”

Rival promoter Top Rank’s top brass were also won over by Wilson’s performance while Navarrete – staying just two doors down on the same floor as the Australian – didn’t shirk at suggestions of a rematch when the pair chatted later in the hotel.

A blockbuster defence against fellow two-division champion and Mexican star Oscar Valdez is the obvious match-up though, No.3 contender Wilson only getting his shot after Valdez’s injury.

Wilson was slated to face No.1 WBO contender Archie Sharp in a world title eliminator before that call-up, a fight the father of two says still fits the bill.

“I only want to take hard fights … fights that get remembered and are worth it,” he said.

“And I feel like this one was worth it and I want the next one to be worth it.”


Topics: boxing
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