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Liam Williams’ Renaissance

By: Ste Rowen

April 2017 – The bleeding right eye of Liam Williams continues to seep as the Welshman is sat in the corner, wondering whether a second wind was gonna come to him or not. But it ended up being out of his hands.

In the 9th round, of Liam’s bout with fellow Liam, ‘Beefy’ Smith, Williams’ trainer, Gary Lockett threw the towel in as blood seeped down the Welshman’s face. It was a decision that his corner seemed to live to regret. That is until the rematch when Liam Smith took Williams to a full twelve rounds and, to put it, frankly, outclassed the Welshman along the way.

It meant that Liam Williams had a rebuild job to overcome. Where did it go wrong? Was he outclassed or overwhelmed? Was he just not good enough?

Since that 2017 night in Newcastle, Williams has taken steps to re-establish himself, not just in the division above. From fighting at 154lb and falling short, Liam took the decision to shift up a division to the more prestigious division of middleweight.

After two run of the mill bouts, Williams took out the unbeaten, Mark Heffron in the 10th round, and two 2nd round maulin’s of both, Joe Mullender and Karim Achour. Those previous bouts set up a WBO eliminator against former world title challenger, Alantez Fox.

The slender man arrived into London with all the confidence of a genuine world class contender,  and not like a man who did nothing more than a flash knockdown against current WBO world champion, and backwards fighting, Demetrius Andrade.
But Williams was unafraid of the larger-than-fight, Fox, who struggled to maintain any kind of distance from the brawling Welshman.

The early rounds saw ‘The Machine’ Williams rifle his way into the subsequent fifth round stoppage, dropping the lanky American twice before a 5th round stoppage. A slightly unexpected finish, certainly not what Fox had envisioned but perhaps exactly how Williams had seen the fight going and not just hoped.

Now firmly in place amongst the top WBO ranked fighters, ranked just behind champion, Andrade and #2 Jamie Munguia, Williams, 22-2-1 (17KOs) has more than just inner belief to feel justified in thinking his first world title shot at 160lb could happen either at the end of this year or early 2021. Who knows, if not for Corona, Wales could have had its first world champion since Lee Selby claimed the IBF featherweight title in 2017, and its first ever middleweight titlist ever. But they do say good things come to those who wait.

So, can Liam beat Demetrius Andrade and how?
It does feel that more often than not that the Brits always go in as the underdog when facing an American, certainly in more recent times. Williams will need to defy the odds and avoid the fates of Khan vs. Crawford, Brook vs. Spence etc. But then again, Andrade, though he has his plaudits, has failed to capture the imagination or excitement that the aforementioned US boxers have done.

If all you had to go on was watching a few Demetrius bouts, you would be pretty certain he had a strong amateur background including reaching the 2008 Olympics and winning gold at the 2007 world championships. Both at the 69kg limit. It is not necessarily a criticism either and might be the perfect style to completely null the expected mauling attack that fans and pundits alike would expect to see if the two were meet.

‘Boo-Boo’s’ backwards, stick & move approach has leant itself to a 29-0 (18KOs) record, which includes victories across two divisions over the previously unbeaten Vanes Martirosyan in 2013, Jack Culcay to claim his first world title and a solid whitewash decision win over fringe-contender, Maciej Sulecki. But it leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to the viewership.

Williams may not be the top name that fans are hoping for, for Andrade when boxing fully returns, such as a previous fight on the calendar with Billy Joe Saunders, or an all-American affair against Jermall Charlo or Daniel Jacobs; but what can be guaranteed if Williams vs. Andrade happens, is that sparks will fly if, and it’s a big if, the Welshman is able to land.

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