Van Nuys heavyweight Mark Wills has talent.
There is no argument about that from anybody who saw him battle Dee Collier a year ago at the Country Club in Reseda for 12 rounds, 11 of them with a broken hand, before losing a close decision.
Nor from anybody who saw Wills stop former World Boxing Assn. heavyweight champion Greg Page last summer at the Forum.
Nor from trainer Bill Slayton, who has worked with such talented boxers as former heavyweight champ Ken Norton.
So why does Wills have a dismal 10-6-1 record to show for his efforts?
"He thinks too much," said Slayton, who is training Wills for a rematch with Collier (9-6 with 7 knockouts). That fight will take place Monday under a wing of the Spruce Goose in Long Beach where Wills will try to capture Collier's state heavyweight title in a scheduled 12-round bout.
"Mark is one of those guys who is going to get an ulcer when he gets older," Slayton said. "I don't care if the process-server is at your front door. You have to leave that there or you're going to get your butt kicked in the ring. You have to be a selfish person in boxing and think only of yourself because you're the only one in the ring. Mark has been under some financial stress trying to provide for his wife and two kids and he's been thinking a lot about that.
"Plus he's been a little lazy about getting into shape. But he's beginning to learn what it takes to be successful. Some guys think it's a gift. They'd like to have roadwork pills. You know, 'I'll take these and it'll be the same thing as running 10 miles.' "
Wills says he learned his lesson when he lost to Larry Alexander in the final round of a Forum tournament several months ago, costing him the $50,000 first prize. Wills had to settle for the $10,000 runner-up purse.
"That was a $40,000 lesson for me," Wills says. "I realize that if you're not in shape you can get seriously hurt in this business. But if you work hard, all things can come to you."
Now that's a good attitude. At least until somebody invents those roadwork pills.