Exciting Welshman Liam Williams believes beating Demetrius Andrade for the WBO middleweight title this weekend is his destiny.
The challenger has won 23 of 26 professional fights and is the American’s No. 1 contender.
Andrade is 29-0, but Williams is confident.
“I’m excited,” he said. “I’ve been sucking it all up [the experience of being in America] and making the most of it. This is my defining moment. I’m not there yet, I need to go and win first but it’s all part of the plan and it’s all coming together. It’s exciting and I’m really happy to be here. It’s all been going well [in Miami]. I’ve been staying sharp and doing what I need to do to make weight.”
Williams is not showing up at Miami’s Hard Rock Hotel and Casino for a pay day. He has ambition and determination in equal measure and he’s spent the last 11 days on US soil.
It has not been a straightforward period for his team, however. Williams’s friend and stablemate Willy Hutchinson lost for the first time in the pros a few weeks ago when he was stopped by Lennox Clarke, and Liam’s trainer Dominic Ingle recently lost his mother, the Ingle family matriarch Alma.
“You know Dom, he’s a very strong-minded character anyway, so Dom is sound,” Williams explained. “He’s normal, getting on with business… And Willy is pretty much the same. He knows the mistakes he made [against Lennox Clarke], he knows what went wrong and what he needs to change so he’s in good spirits as well and he’s been straight back training so overall there are good vibes.”
There is another way of looking at it, too, that both Ingle and Hutchinson now have Andrade-Williams to focus on.
“In many ways, it’s helping I suppose,” agreed Liam. “Not just that, but they respect and appreciate me enough that even if it is difficult, they put that to one side and I’m sure when I do a job on him [Andrade] on Saturday it will lift the spirits of both of them.”
Williams admitted acclimatising and adapting to the time difference hasn’t been too easy, but he’s a poor sleeper anyway who is “quite used to running on the minimum”. Still, he’s been making the most of Miami and working out in the 5th Street Gym.
And, of course, much has been made of the grudge between both fighters. Liam reckoned it’s not so much personal as much as they are simply polar opposites.
“I think he’s very different to myself,” he said of Andrade. “He’s not my type of friend. I think he’s a strange guy.”
As a fighter, though, Williams gives the champion his props.
“Obviously he’s very good,” Liam conceded. “You can’t play down his achievements and what he does well, he is good. “I’m not really his biggest fan as a person but his achievements speak for themselves. He’s very good at what he does. He’s a southpaw, he’s tricky, he’s fairly big for the weight, so he does everything well and he’s slick.”
Williams is nicknamed “The Machine” and is a come-forward, aggressive fighter. Andrade doesn’t have a list of Fight of the Year contenders on his record, so the type of contest it is will depend on who can best stamp their authority on their opponent.
“I’m expecting what he normally brings,” Williams continued. “He normally comes out flying the first couple of rounds trying to put a dent in you and trying to stop the rhythm and flow but I don’t believe he’s going to be able to do that to me. I’m hoping he does try, so I can put him in his place and set the tone of the fight.”
Williams will have plenty of fans pulling for him back home. His no-nonsense, devil-may-care attitude and pursuit of big fights has endeared him to boxing fans and he has been able to see and feel the support grow in recent years.
“I’ve learned that the performances speak for themselves,” he went on. “I’ve been working really hard and finally that’s paying off for me and people are sitting up and taking notice. It’s pleasing from my point of view. It doesn’t really matter to me if people love me or hate me but it’s always a bonus when people take to you and they like your personality. I think that’s a big part of what’s missing in a lot of fighters… a bit of personality. They haven’t got that charisma. Even if they can fight well, they’ve got no personality out of the ring so if I can bring a bit of that and people buy into it then that’s fantastic.”
He’s motivated, too. While he’s not been homesick, he misses his daughter and his girlfriend – who is eight months pregnant.
“Hopefully they’ll be waiting for the new WBO champion to come home,” he said.