By Chris Cella
This Saturday night at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut, Jimmy Williams will make his pro boxing debut. The 26-year-old’s journey to getting this point of stepping on the grand stage of the boxing world has not been a storybook tale; it included coping with the murder of his mother and being on the fence about pursuing a career as a professional football player, though through all of the adversities the avid boxing fan never lost sight of what he really wanted to do.
“This is my goal,” said Williams about making his pro debut Saturday night. “I want to become a world champion, and this is the first step.”
Promoted by Main Events and Classic Entertainment and Sports, Williams joins an action packed fight card as part of NBC Sports’ Fight Night Series.
While attending Southern Connecticut State University and establishing himself as one of the premier defensive backs in the nation, Williams learned of his mother’s death one day at practice.
“My sister kept blowing up my phone,” Williams said. “She never really called that much, so I knew something was wrong. I still remember the words she said to me – ‘Don’t stop doing what you’re doing. Keep working hard.’”
It would’ve been easy for Williams to become complacent, abandon all he had worked for and taken a trip down a dark road, but instead the all-around athlete kept his goals in check.
Despite not making the draft following college, Williams stayed persistent in working hard to get noticed by an NFL squad, and was invited to several post-drat workouts. Having suffered an injury where he tweaked a groin muscle, the star defensive back was never again the same physically, and watched as his dream of playing professional football abruptly ended.
Boxing had been coursing through his system since he first got a taste of the sport at the age of eight. He only put the sweet science on the back burner to focus on his football career, but following his groin injury, he returned to the gym. Having the competitive fire burning inside of him, Williams entered the NJ State Diamond Gloves Tournament shortly after resuming his training, but lost in the opening round.
“I was too stiff,” Williams said about the loss. “I couldn’t move around the ring.”
Using the loss as a motivator to get into better shape and progress with his skills between the ropes, Williams kicked up his training and stayed confident that he could be successful in the sport.
His diligence and hard work paid off, and caught the attention of New Haven Gym, who asked him to join.
The top defensive back who at one point bulked up to 180 pounds shed the weight and cut down to a welterweight, and has built a solid team behind him.
Williams is anxious to make his highly-anticipated debut this Saturday night as he goes to battle with Robert Brando Hunt (0-3).
More than looking to impress and show he has found his calling as a professional prizefighter, Williams will have his mom in his corner.
“I take her spirit with me every time I step in the ring,” Williams said. “I fear nothing. I’m excited. I’m fired up. I’m ready to go. Words can’t express how I feel. Whoever they put in front of me, I’m willing to beat. I’ve made it this far and been through so much already. Nothing is going to stop me now.”