MARCHING ON TO GLORY: LIAM WILLIAMS
Updated: Sep 30, 2020
With a decorated amateur career consisting of seven Welsh titles, six British titles and the 2011 Senior ABA Championship, Williams entered the professional ranks at 19 years old as no stranger to winning.
Under the watchful eye of trainer Gary Lockett, Williams – originally based out of the Calzaghe’s Newbridge Boxing Club – beat all of his first eight opponents without so much as losing a single round. Professional boxing was going wholly to plan until his ninth outing where Williams’ previously perfect record sustained its first blemish coming by way of a technical draw against cult hero Tyan Booth. A clash of heads and resultant cut brought the fight to a premature end.
Williams made his ring return four months later and set about racking up another six wins, with none of his opponents hearing the final bell. What followed next was Williams’ coming out party vs Gary Corcoran in front of a 5,000-capacity crowd in the Welshman’s capital, Cardiff. Owing to a war of words over social media, Williams vs Corcoran built up around a feeling of genuine dislike between the pair with the crescendo reached as the men met in the centre of the ring. The fight itself saw everything you’d expect of a grudge match: blood, sweat and thunderous punches and was eventually concluded in the eleventh round when referee Terry O’Connor stepped in and spared Corcoran any more punishment.
Williams puts end to Corcoran in the 11th round | Sky Sports
Back to winning ways and ready to climb the ladder, Williams picked up the WBO European Super Welterweight title in his next outing before setting his sights on a matchup with Liam Smith. Even before a glove was laced, Smith vs Williams looked set for controversy as Smith missed the 154lbs limit. Regardless of the failed weight, the fight went ahead and lived up to the hype with both men trading punches, dishing out and taking damage. Williams, the pre-fight underdog, looked set to overcome the odds after inflicting heavy damage to Smith with a left hook that cut Smith above the right eye in the seventh round; The fight was halted for the ringside doctor to assess Smith before allowing him to continue. In an ironic twist, Williams also sustained a cut to the right eye but this one came from a head clash in the ninth round.
At the end of the round, the ringside doctor made it clear to Williams’ trainer Lockett that his man would be unable to continue – Begrudgingly, but dutifully, Lockett informed the referee and who brought the bout to its controversial conclusion. Smith celebrated passionately but was greeted with a mixed reaction from the crowd who were clearly displeased with the ending. Williams left the ring that night deflated after suffering his first professional loss, made more agonising by the fact he was leading (86-85) on all three judges’ scorecards.
Clearly aggrieved, and with good reason, Williams pushed for and secured the rematch. Seven months after their contentious first fight the pair met again, but any pre-fight controversy that marred the first bout was spared as both boxers made the 154lbs limit. Once again, the fight itself lived up to the hype with both men having success but it was the Liverpudlian who came out on top doing enough to earn a majority decision over the Welshman. There was no controversy this time, in fact, it was written on Williams’ face as he awaited the official verdict, it was a defeat that he was expecting – Liam Williams, desperate to right the wrongs, left the ring that night with two defeats on his record and a job on his hands to rebuild his career.
Smith earns a majority decision over Williams | ACTION IMAGES/LEE SMITH
Rightly or wrongly, a defeat in boxing can severely stunt a fighter’s trajectory – Two losses back-to-back though, for many, is a nightmare. With his back up against the ropes, Williams chose to make changes in the corner and amicably parted ways with Gary Lockett in favour of Sheffield’s Dominic Ingle. Williams felt that the guidance of Ingle and setting up base in the famous Wincobank Gym was the refreshing he needed. Now dubbed “The Machine”, Williams returned to winning ways with a vengeance stopping all men he faced within the distance living up to the new nickname and justifying his decision to make significant changes.
Back to winning ways and with the bit firmly between his teeth, without discrimination, Williams lay down a gauntlet to any man in the division. Not by his own choice, but by order of the WBO, rangy American Alantez Fox was the man who answered the call – the victor of the two would be rewarded with a chance at WBO World Middleweight champion, Demetrius Andrade. Fox, who stood at 6ft 5 with a record of 26-1-1, towered over the shorter Williams - The natural assumption was that come fight night Fox would use his considerable height and reach advantage to keep Williams at distance and that it would be Williams’ responsibility to negate the advantage.
It soon became clear that whilst keeping it at range may well have been the plan for Fox, he simply couldn’t halt the determined Welshman who marched forward and hit Fox almost at will. Early on it became clear that Williams was the faster, stronger and more accurate of the two – Although Fox had moments of success, they were few, very far between and paled into insignificance by comparison to the onslaught of Williams. A man possessed; Williams was unrelenting as he continued to pressure Fox landing power shots at a consistency that broke Fox’s spirit long before it broke his body. A crashing right hand put Fox to the canvas in the fourth round spelling the start of the end for the American.
With no way of slowing Williams, Fox reverted to holding at every opportunity in an attempt to survive. It was clear for all to see that the fight was only going one way; In the fifth round, Williams strung together a series of punches including two perfectly placed short left hooks that forced Fox’s legs to abandon him and a rapid flurry that convinced referee Steve Gray he had seen enough.
Williams demolishes Fox in final eliminator | MTK Global
The middleweight division at present sits proudly among the most competitive and talent-rich divisions in boxing with Charlo, GGG and Canelo each holding a title. The fourth champion of the division, Demetrius “Boo Boo” Andrade of Rhode Island, USA, maybe a somewhat lesser-known name but that doesn’t diminish his accomplishments. Andrade boasts a remarkable amateur pedigree that includes Championship wins at both National and World level and representing Team USA in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. As a professional, Andrade has racked up a record of 29-0 18KO and in that time has earned a reputation as a slick, intelligent, southpaw and in many ways has inadvertently put himself in the “Who needs him?” camp.
Andrade doesn’t generate the commercial of a GGG or Canelo and for many Boo Boo is considered high risk, low reward. All of these factors though don’t deter Williams one iota – In fact, Williams has previously stated that he considers Andrade to be the worst of the division’s titleholders and has suggested he believes Andrade struggles to make the weight and fades in the middle rounds. If Williams is correct in his predictions then it would certainly be a flaw that he would look to capitalise on with his relentless pressure fighting.
The question though is whether Williams possesses the skillset to negate Andrade’s ring intelligence and to find a way to get inside the slightly taller man’s height and reach advantage. The same questions were posed of Williams in the fight with Fox, but Andrade is of a much higher calibre.
Once again the underdog, the same questions will be asked of Williams, principally – Is he good enough for world level? There is no doubt that Williams cares little for the opinions of the naysayers and while the bookmakers will inevitably have him earmarked as the lesser man, Williams won’t let it phase him one bit.
As always with Liam Williams, we can expect him to bring it all and then some as he dares to achieve his long-held dream of becoming World Champion.
We are obviously in times of uncertainty, not just regarding sport, but regarding the health and welfare of everybody that this virus has the potential to affect.
The reality is that lives have already been lost and the hope is that people will, at some point, be able to return to doing what they love once it is safe to do so.
Scheduled fights will no doubt be cancelled for the foreseeable future whilst the ramifications of what is happening continue.
We hope to see these sportsmen and sportswomen on our screens again soon, providing the entertainment we as boxing fans regularly take for granted.