Promising welterweight prospect Wilson “Ill Will” Mascarenhas is set to make his highly anticipated return to the ring against New Jersey’s Danny Murray on May 20th at the Historic Park Theater in Cranston, Rhode Island. The contest is part of a stacked card promoted by CES Boxing.
The bout will be the first for the 28-year-old Portugal native in 14 months. The last time Mascarenhas was in the ring was in March 2022, when he shut out undefeated prospect Abraham Perez over six rounds.
It was his second win in a promising year where Mascarenhas expected to fight 2 to 3 more times. Instead, the New Bedford resident spent the next year recovering from multiple stab wounds suffered at his post-fight party – a serious attack that could have taken his life.
“That night I went from experiencing the highest moment of my life to the worst moment of my life within a few hours,” states Mascarenhas.
The traumatic incident occurred in his hometown of New Bedford, just hours after the team drove back from his bout in Warwick, RI.
“We went back to New Bedford to celebrate,” explains Mascarenhas of the fateful night. “I wanted to be around all my people. So, we were celebrating and suddenly, I was being stabbed in the back. I didn’t see it coming. I felt the pokes, but I didn’t realize that I was being stabbed because my adrenaline was running. Next thing I knew, my friends were grabbing me and telling me that I was bleeding.”
Wilson’s friends were able to limit the bleeding by putting pressure on the wounds long enough for the ambulance to take him to the hospital, where he would spend the next few days.
At the hospital, the fighter learned that he had been stabbed 4 times. He had a broken scapula (shoulder blade) and suffered wounds to the back, neck, shoulder and head.
While doctors told Wilson that he was lucky to be alive, they were pessimistic about his chances of ever lacing up a pair of boxing gloves again.
“I saw myself falling into dark places, especially when doctors told me that they didn’t think I would be able to fight again,” recalls Mascarenhas. “I tried not to focus on negativity, because it would almost take over me.”
Instead, the fighter found solace in his team, his family, and certain friends who kept his spirits up. One of his main sources of motivation was the upcoming birth of his daughter.
“Doctors told me that if the knife hit a major artery one centimeter away, I could’ve been paralyzed or dead,” states Mascarenhas. “I looked at it like, God gave me another chance to move my fingers and to live. My lady was pregnant, and my daughter would be born 4 months later, so I wanted to be fully recovered physically to be able to hold my daughter but also mentally and spiritually as a father.”
Wilson used that inspiration to recover at an astonishing rate. He left the hospital within 3 days and became active at home over the next few weeks. Within a month, he was jogging and working out. A few months later, he returned to the gym.
“I was in a lot of pain when I returned to the gym, but I kept pushing myself to the limit,” says Macarenhas. “I tried to go against the grain to prove to myself that I could. My mindset was: people are looking up to me and I can’t let them down. I had to listen to myself and believe in my ability. By the time I went to therapy, I was already able to do a lot of the movements they wanted me to work on”.
Therapy consisted of hour-long sessions twice a week for a year that helped Wilson recover his range of motion and remove the tingling sensation he often felt in his fingertips.
“The hospital and the doctors went above and beyond to help me get back in the ring, because that’s what I was stressing about,” laughs Wilson. “They referred me to different specialists to make sure that I fully recovered. I’m back today and I’m happy and excited to put on a show on May 20th.”
May 20 is a hugely important day for New Bedford’s Mascarenhas. Ill Will wants a tough test and he believes that he will get one from Murray, who has almost double the amount of fights and has shared the ring with the likes of Elvis Rodriguez and several other undefeated prospects.
“I’m excited and ready to go,” states the rejuvenated fighter. “CES reached out to me with an opponent. He’s had some tough opposition, so I know he’s coming to fight. That’s what I wanted for my comeback, a tough test. I owe it to myself.”
While doctors, boxing fans and pundits may have doubts about how the incident may affect Mascarenhas in the ring, Ill Will speaks with conviction about how he will respond to adversity on fight night.
“I don’t question myself anymore,” explains Mascarenhas. “I lost my very first fight, I took a knee, and I came back with 6 straight wins. I overcame this injury, that could’ve killed or paralyzed me. Who would’ve thought that I’d be back to fight a year later?”
Indeed, surviving and thriving after the near fatal assault has revealed more to Wilson about his character than any fight ever could.
“I feel like I won two fights that night, so that shows you the warrior that I am,” says Mascarenhas. “I look at my life like, the worst has already happened, so I can accomplish anything. Boxing is just me and another individual. I know that I have the warrior mentality. Now the question is, does my opponent?
On May 20th, the world will find out.