By Jake Donovan
Thomas Williams Jr. made a hell of a first impression to the ESPN2 Friday Night Fights audience earlier this year, scoring a 1st round knockout of Cornelius White in their brief shootout this past January. The win was not without its share of drama for the rising light heavyweight, who–after scoring an early knockdown–was dropped hard himself before rallying back to stop White in that same round.
The aforementioned thriller took place at the Little Creek Casino Resort in Shelton, Washington. The same venue once again plays host to Williams, who returns this Friday as he faces former light heavyweight champ Gabriel Campillo. Their scheduled 12-round bout airs live on ESPN2, Williams’ third straight appearance on the network.
While the 26-year old southpaw guarantees a crowd-pleasing performance, he’s not entirely keen on history repeating itself.
“It’s an experience I’d rather not go through again,” Williams (17-0, 12KOs) jokingly admits. “Afterward it was OK. It’s always good to give the fans a thrill. I will give the crowd its money’s worth this Friday, but more like all of my other fights.”
Williams looked like a world beater in his most recent performance, a third-round stoppage of Enrique Ornelas this past April, which also aired on ESPN2 Friday Night Fights. His string of recent wins – including unanimous decisions over former light heavyweight contenders Yusaf Mack and Otis Griffin–have positioned the Maryland native within reach of a major title fight.
Needless to say, each ring appearance these days comes with a little extra motivation. A win on Friday will put Williams within one fight of becoming mandatory challenger to a light heavyweight title. But for now, the thrill of returning to a fan-friendly fight venue is what gets his blood pumping.
“That venue is crazy,” Williams says of the intimate casino ballroom. “They pack the house and the fans never stop yelling. It makes me want to win that much more in spectacular fashion.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as the Records Keeper for the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and a member of Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox