By: Marcus Navarro
Boxing and humility mix like water and oil. Maybe it just comes with the territory; fighters need to think they are the best to be the best. Or perhaps, all the modesty within the sport belongs to Will Madera.
“Ill” Will Madera from Albany, NY had a solid amateur career but turned to professional boxing after a motorcycle accident in 2012.
“I was just being dumb; I was going too fast on a turn,” Madera said. Luckily, he walked away with only a few road rashes and a gash, but it was a turning point. “It was a reality check, man. Anything could happen, and life could be over that quick. It was all about making smart decisions after that.”
He fights at 135 lbs and 140 lbs and has a record of 11 wins, 5 by way of knockout, 0 losses, and 1 draw as a pro. This Saturday at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, he’ll attempt to improve to 12-0-1 against an opponent who has never been knocked out, a streak that he hopes to end.
Anyone who talks to Madera will immediately get the impression that he isn’t too interested in talking about himself. Not that he’s shy, but he’s focused and cares little about boasting.
It’s possible that he’s simply too tired to talk, after all, he is a pretty busy guy. A typical day for Will means he takes care of his younger kids in the morning and gets some rest before he picks up his two oldest of six kids in the afternoon. Then he trains at the gym for a few hours before he heads to his overnight shift at the Center for Disability Services. For nearly ten years, Will worked as a residential counselor.
“It’s really tough with the schedule I have, but it’s more mental than anything. Certain days, I don’t even want to come to the gym, but I push myself to do it that way I can stay on top,” Madera said.
His work ethic and drive are centered around providing for his family. One of those smart decisions he spoke of was switching to Schott’s Boxing after feeling stagnated at his old gym, according to his trainer, Andy Schott.
Andy co-trains Will with Kyle Provenzano and the trio have worked together for roughly three years. The setup is a little out of the ordinary, having co-trainers is like having two head coaches for a football team; who’s orders do you follow?
However, it works for Kyle and Andy, who’ve worked together for 19 years. Andy even trained Kyle as an amateur fighter. It works because they are always on the same page and egos don’t get in the way.
“Will is more important than Kyle, and Will is more important than Andy,” Schott said.
The trio’s next challenge is to stay undefeated. Alberto Alejandro Morales Bautista, a Mexican journeyman, stands in the way. Although, it was a frustrating road to get to their March 24th bout in Toronto.
Madera was supposed to fight highly rated prospect, Teofimo Lopez, who signed with Top Rank after his display at the 2016 Olympics. Madera and Lopez were scheduled to fight at Madison Square Garden this month. However, Lopez got cut during his fight in February, where he improved to 8-0. The bout got pushed to April in Las Vegas, but that card got canceled. Talks for a May fight began, but instead, the fight got called off altogether. This fight would have been Madera’s biggest opportunity to take that next step in boxing.
“It’s all about maintaining composure, even though one fight may fall off, another one will come,” Madera said.
Although disappointing, Kyle and Andy decided to take the Bautista fight rather than to wait and try to force the Lopez fight. “Will is an assassin in the ring, we have to be assassins outside the ring,” Schott said.
It’s a frustrating situation and one that Madera has seen before. He had a 14-month layoff because opponents, for one reason or another, kept canceling. However, you must have a short memory.
“It’s a little bit of a let down for him, but we’ve got to focus on this guy now because if we lose to this guy, we don’t get the other one,” Provenzano said. To his credit, Will stays sharp, during that long layoff, he was still in the gym every day.
“A lot of times in this sport your best opportunities are going to come up because you’re ready. If you’re ready and no opportunities come up, that’s okay. But if an opportunity comes up and you’re not ready, that’s a shame, and a lot of fighters lose out because of that,” Schott said.
That is the life of an up and coming fighter. You work hard outside the ring to provide for your family, and you train hard in the gym while waiting for that big chance. Another boxer trained by Schott commutes an hour and a half to work construction and still finds the time to come to the gym.
It’s a hard life, but it’s rewarding when you finally get that shot. Moving up the boxing ranks the hard way is like trying to win the lottery at times, but you need to be prepared to handle that jackpot money.
His maturity shows, and his lifestyle and personality help. “He never gets too high, never gets too low, very even-keeled… he’s a pleasant guy, he’s not on social media acting like an idiot,” Provenzano said.
Madera doesn’t drink or smoke, he’s not a partier, and he doesn’t bring any negativity to the gym. He stays focused. “You can’t be a rockstar and a champion at the same time, you have to be one or the other,” Provenzano said.
Fighters do win the lottery, Albany boxer Amir Imam fought for the vacant WBC World Super Lightweight Title this past Saturday. Imam fought valiantly against undefeated Jose Ramirez and lost a unanimous decision.
Andy Schott has plenty of stories of boxers waiting for their chance and making the most of it. Stories like of Keith Mullins in the late 90’s who took a championship fight against Terry Norris on a week’s notice and won.
Madera is waiting for his big shot, but in the meantime, he needs to translate all the new things he, Kyle, and Andy have worked on in training into the ring. Looking past his Saturday night date with Bautista, all three want Will to keep climbing the ranks.
“I would like Will to find out how good he can really be. I’d like him to get the right fights at the right time… so that Will’s career can go as far as it can go and there are no questions,” Schott said.