The near two-year period that Liam Williams has spent working under trainer Dominic Ingle has been a transformative one.
The 27-year-old Welshman made the difficult decision to leave Gary Lockett’s stable in the summer of 2018 citing that he “needed to change things within my team and freshen things up”.
One year earlier Williams had suffered two losses to then arch-rival at 154lbs derailing the good work and momentum that had been built up under friend and coach Lockett. Now in 2020 Williams stands on the cusp of WBO middleweight title shot against Demetrius Andrade.
In 2019 Williams blitzed through Joe Mullender, Karim Achour and Alantez Fox with a mean, ruthless streak which has many believing that this is Williams’ time to grab the world honours that some thought were realistic before he locked horns with Smith.
“Things are good in my life,” said an aching Williams who was spending the evening on the sofa talking to Boxing Scene after getting over-competitive in training with gym-mate Kid Galahad. Williams knows that the pain in camp, necessary or not, will all be worth it when his fight against Andrade is signed and delivered.
“Finally this big fight has come along.”
The World Boxing Organisation have called for Andrade to defend his title against Williams, their number two ranked contender. The American’s promoter Eddie Hearn told ‘Scene last week that “The WBO have sent letters out re: the fight but there haven’t been any discussions yet”.
When and where Andrade-Williams takes place is up in the air along with every other potential fight scheduled or not until the world gets to grips with the Coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic. Prior to supermarket shelves being emptied and the term self-isolation becoming more popular than ever Williams spoke of his delight at getting a shot at the unbeaten champion who has made three defences since winning the vacant belt against Walter Kautondokwa in October 2018.
“It’s very exciting for me because I think most people will agree that I’ve been knocking on the door for a little while now and finally my opportunity has come and I ain’t gonna let it pass by. I’m going to go in there and definitely bring it home,” a supremely confident Williams told ‘Scene.
“It’s a difficult question to be honest,” Williams answers when ‘Scene asks if he views Andrade as one of the best in the division.
“Obviously any of these guys that are world champions don’t deserve any disrespect. It’s a difficult question to answer but I would say… I don’t really think [Jermall] Charlo’s all that. Everyone raves about him but I think Charlo’s an easier fight than Andrade. I also think [Jaime] Munguia is an easier fight than Andrade for obvious reasons with Andrade and his awkwardness being quite slick. Styles make fights. Personally I think Andrade is one of the toughest but I have watched him, I have seen a lot of weaknesses which I’ve picked up on and I can beat him, I know I can.”
2019 was the most rewarding year of Williams’ career to date. His win over Mark Heffron at the back end of 2018 showed how far Williams was above the domestic level, cutting down to size his muscular opponent with a display of thinking man’s boxing and punching that led to a tenth round TKO. That put Williams back on the map in the U.K and made some forget about the losses to Liam Smith. 2020 was the year Williams’ demolition man came out in full force.
“You seen I can box against Heffron,” he says.
“When I need to box and keep calm I can do it but if I go into a fight and I feel like I can wipe someone out quite quickly then I’m the type of person that’s not going to f--k around. Why do I want to go 12 rounds when I can go four or five?”
Williams has gone from strength to strength under Dominic Ingle and everything seems to be falling into place for him at the right age and at the right time.
“It’s going to take some man to beat me at the moment,” says Williams.
The two fights back to back against Smith seemed to have been the catalyst to give him the kick he needed. Back then he didn’t realise how much he loved the sport and loved what he was doing for a living. He doesn’t like to lose and while the Smith defeats, particularly the first one, were a bitter pill to swallow they have turned out to be a blessing in disguise as he explains.
“It made me realise how much boxing actually meant to me and I really did wanna achieve my dreams and I want to fully dedicate myself because… no excuse, I don’t really like doing that, but a couple of weeks before the second fight with Liam Smith I was out on the piss and I weren’t living the life I should’ve been. It just made me open my eyes to a lot of things. I changed people around me, changed situations. I was getting myself into… just so many things to be honest with you and realised how good I actually had it.
“And hand on heart, I swear on my daughter, that if I could go back and win those Smith fights I wouldn’t. I would still have the exact same record that I have now. I would still have lost my 0. Honestly they’ve made me the man I’ve become now and if I’d scraped through them fights and won I’d probably still be half hearted. As I’ve said many times I find myself now in a happy place in terms of the sport and doing what I’m doing and I know for sure that I’ve got what it takes.”
A couple of years ago Williams was questioning why he was putting himself through the hard work. Draining himself physically and mentally was taking its toll and eventually led him to wonder if he was really good enough to be the best, to be at the top level. A long hard think was required for the man who doesn’t enjoy coming second best.
“Even if it means earning a couple of quid, I don’t give a f--k I can make money other ways,” he says bluntly.
“I came here to the [Ingle] gym, surrounded myself with very good people, a very good coach in Dom and I thought with the right people and the right dedication I can a million per cent become world champion and go on from there and do even better things than a world champion.”
Is this the time for Liam Williams to become a world champion? We will wait, longer than anticipated, and see. Like any good underdog he is going out there with the right mindset, the right intentions and is keen to make people proud and prove the doubters wrong.
Williams has been watching the top dogs at 160lbs knowing that his time will come and the destructive win over Alantez Fox proved him correct. He believes he is at the level of Andrade, Munguia and Charlo. Canelo is further away in his opinion but after proving himself correct that a world title opportunity would come around another prediction has been playing around with him.
“I’ve watched a s--t load of Golovkin because I honestly believe that at some point before he finishes I’ll end up fighting Golovkin and that’s a fight which I would love. I’ve looked up to him. [I] love to watch him and in many ways I’ve been a fan but I’ve always watched thinking these fights are going to come; Munguia, Charlo even Canelo.”
The likelihood is Williams will have to travel to America to take on Andrade but the relaxed nature of the man isn’t fazed by that, in fact he says he’ll get more credit beating him away rather than at home and insists he will take any doubts about getting the nod on points out of the judges hands.
“I’ve come a long way but I’ve still got a long way to go and it’s definitely my time and I am ready to take over. I promise you.”