Six Questions with Welterweight Prospect Willie Nelson

Generally speaking, we don't put pure press release material on the front page, but in cases like this, I think it's valuable. Willie Nelson is a largely-unknown welterweight prospect who is getting a shot on ShoBox this Friday night, and the 6'3" Cleveland native is getting his name out there.

And for the record, the three best albums by the other Willie Nelson are Shotgun Willie (1973), Phases and Stages (1974) and Red Headed Stranger (1975). This is the consensus, but in this instance the consensus is actually 100% correct. I also have a special soft spot for Yesterday's Wine (1971), and find his famous Stardust (1978) to be overrated. You know, in case you were wondering. -- Scott Christ, Managing Editor, Bad Left Hook

* * * * *

With a famous given name and a bold self-proclaimed moniker, Willie "The Great" Nelson (16-0-1, 10 KOs) answers the age old question, "What's in a name," just days before his eight-round welterweight fight against Vincent Arroyo (10-1, 7 KOs) on ShoBox: The New Generation, Friday, April 8, in the first of three fights on an exciting tripleheader LIVE on SHOWTIME (11 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the West Coast).

A 23-year-old welterweight prospect from Cleveland, Nelson describes Arroyo, of Amherst, N.Y., as a banger who will not be afraid to mix it up once the two square off. "I'm going in there to take care of business," said Nelson, who had more than 200 amateur fights. "I've watched Shawn Porter (fellow Ohio fighter who trains in California) on SHOWTIME. Now it's my turn to show everyone what ‘The Great' is all about."

Question: Willie Nelson the famous country singer sang "On the Road Again." You fought your pro debut in New York City and have fought in New Jersey, Connecticut, California and four other states in only 17 pro fights. Can you relate?

Nelson: "Yeah, I'll travel anywhere. People say eventually it will catch up with me but this is what I do. I'm not afraid to fight anywhere. They'll recognize me in Texas because of my name. That's where Willie Nelson is from."

Question: Ever get tired of people asking you about your name?

Nelson: "Nah, I've gotten it my whole life. I like it. It's something different. If I didn't like it I'd change it. I've heard a few of his songs, just because I'm curious. But I'm not into country. I'm more into R & B."

Question: Do you have a favorite Cleveland boxer? Or someone you look up to in the welterweight division?

Nelson: "Nope. Just me. I'm my own favorite. I can't have a favorite boxer and be in the same sport. I can't compare myself to another fighter or say I like him and then maybe one day have to fight him. It's just not going to happen."

Question: Is it true you've called out Shawn Porter and want to fight him?

Nelson: "Yeah, I've known Shawn since the amateurs. We're cool with each other. But we've had a long-standing rivalry. His father made a statement that he's the best fighter from Ohio and I took exception to that. I've called him out a few times but he hasn't responded. He was always a weight above me in the amateurs but now we're both 147. We'll see. But he's definitely someone I'd like to fight in the future."

Question: You're a 6-foot-3 welterweight. Have you ever fought someone as tall as you?

Nelson: "In the amateurs there was one guy who I fought who was that tall, but not in the pros. It frustrates a lot of guys naturally. Even if I'm not trying to use my height it frustrates them because I can still box and move and get inside them and be effective with my jabs. Without me even trying to use it as advantage, I think it is."

Question: Why did you give yourself the nickname Willie "The Great"?

Nelson: "It's just something that I thought should happen. In the amateurs I just thought I was so great. And people always thought that too. They would say, ‘Oh, Willie is so great at boxing. Willie has a great jab. Willie is a great prospect.' Whenever my name is mentioned the word great is also mentioned. So I thought that's what my nickname should be."

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