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Teen prospect Wilkens Mathieu wants to bring excitement back to Quebec boxing

Photo by Vincent Ethier/EOTTM© 2023
Fighters Network

There are fewer boxing gyms in Quebec City than there were when Wilkens Mathieu was growing up there during the 2000s. The culture of boxing there has abated significantly since the days when local stars like Jean Pascal and Adonis Stevenson were drawing huge crowds to arenas all over the Canadian province. It was for that reason that the 19-year-old Mathieu moved to Montreal three years ago, just as he was taking his boxing aspirations to the next level.

This Saturday, the super middleweight prospect Mathieu (5-0, 3 knockouts) will make his first appearance in his hometown as a professional, when he faces Jose Arias Alvarez (3-1, 1 KO) in a 4-round bout at Centre Videotron on the undercard of the Artur Beterbiev-Callum Smith unified light heavyweight championship bout.

He hopes that local fans seeing a fighter from their province on the big stage will get them excited about the sport again.

“I want to revive boxing like back in the old days with Jean Pascal and Lucien Bute. I want to revive the sport,” said Mathieu, who is promoted by the Montreal-based Eye of the Tiger Promotions.

“This is going to be my first fight in my hometown in the professional ranks. Since I turned pro that was the moment that I was waiting for. I didn’t expect that it was going to be on a big card with Artur Beterbiev. My family, all my friends from high school are going to be there.”

Mathieu has known he wanted to become a boxer for as long as he has been alive. His father was an amateur boxer who built a boxing gym in their basement. His older brother, Lexson Mathieu, was a multiple-time Canadian champion who went 9-0 as a pro before retiring to pursue business interests.

Photo by Vincent Ethier/EOTTM © 2023

Mathieu had a 32-fight amateur career, which began at age 10. Though he couldn’t find many opponents domestically due to his reputation, he got plenty of experience abroad, competing in Hungary and Germany before ending his amateur career at the Youth World Championships in Spain in November of 2022.

He knew he wanted to be a pro, and even contemplated traveling to Mexico at age 16 to turn pro, but was convinced to take his time by his trainer Mike Moffa.

“In Quebec it was hard to get fights, no one wanted to fight me. Every time I signed up for a competition, everybody in my weight class disappears,” said Mathieu.

“Since the beginning I wanted to turn pro at a very young age because I didn’t like amateur boxing. The Olympics were never my dream, I didn’t like the three rounds, I didn’t like the gloves. I was just waiting for a good age to turn pro.”

Mathieu turned pro last February, a month after his 18th birthday, and kept an active schedule with five fights in 2023. The rangy 6’1” boxer-puncher says he likes to take bits and parts from a variety of different boxers, including Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Devin Haney, but likens himself most to another boxer who had once fought in the super middleweight division.

“I’m a really explosive guy, I have a lot of imagination in the ring. I find myself a lot like Roy Jones, really explosive guy, smart, I know to do a little bit of everything. I can box on the outside of I need to, I can fight on the inside if I need to. I can adapt to anything,” said Mathieu.

Mathieu envisions himself moving quickly in the pro ranks, with his vision including a minor title next year followed by a world title fight in 2-3 years.

First he must get past Alvarez, a 39-year-old from Leon, Mexico. Alvarez first turned pro in 2017 but was inactive from 2019 until returning to the ring last October in Montreal.

“I saw a video of him. He has a big heart, he can take some punches and he will try his best but he doesn’t have my abilities or my speed or my strength,” said Mathieu.

“It’s going to be a good stage for me to put on a great performance and show my skills to the whole world.”

Ryan Songalia has written for ESPN, the New York Daily News, Rappler and The Guardian, and is part of the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism Class of 2020. He can be reached at [email protected].