By Peter Lim
Ricardo Williams Jr., 19-2 (10 KOs), challenges Carson Jones, 32-8-2 (22 KOs), for the USBA welterweight title tonight at Remington Park in Jones' hometown of Oklahoma City. The fight will be a significant gauge to the pugilistic ability that Williams, a 2000 Olympic silver medalist, has retained after a rollercoaster life and career.
Among the members of the 2000 US Olympic team, Williams was generally regarded as the one with the most potential, but after losing two bouts against mediocre opposition, he was deemed as one of the most underachieving. He was completely written off as wasted talent after a 2005 conviction of conspiracy to distribute cocaine that put him away in a federal penitentiary for three years.
Since resuming his career in 2008, he has accumulated a 9-0 (4 KOs) record against mostly garden-variety opponents.
"I've been given a second chance and I'm taking full advantage of it," Williams said.
A southpaw, Williams, 30, is managed by Tony Leonard and James Prince and co-trained by Derwin Richards and his father Ricardo Williams Sr. in Houston, TX. Neither Williams nor his team knows much about Jones apart from YouTube footage of his previous fights.
"He kind of fights out of a shell and walks in with his hands up and that pretty much favors a shorter fighter such as myself," Williams said. "We've been working on inside fighting and outside boxing so whatever he brings to the table, we're ready to answer it."
Three of Williams' Olympic teammates - Brian Viloria, Jermaine Taylor and Jeff Lacy - went on to win world titles in the pro ranks. Fellow silver medalist Rocky Juarez fought unsuccessfully for a world title five times (four losses and a draw). Taylor and Lacy have since retired while Juarez is on a five-fight losing streak.
Viloria, the smallest member of the Class of 2000, has proven the most resilient and prolific. Viloria, 30-3 (17 KOs), captured his his third world title in his second weight division as recently as July and successfully defended it via eighth-round TKO against former 108-pound titleholder Giovani Segura on Saturday (Dec. 10).
Viloria’s recent success is proof that the 2000 Olympians can still be a force to be reckoned with11 years after the fact, Williams said.
"It's very encouraging," Williams said. "All congratulations to my man Brian, the Hawaiian Punch."
Ironically, Viloria was one of the least successful boxers at the Sydney Olympics. Through the luck of the draw, he was eliminated in the second round by eventual gold medalist Brahim Asloum of France, who also went on to win a world title in the pro ranks.