By Ryan Maquiñana
The pro debut of Tramaine Williams was a short one, but the former amateur standout still learned something about himself in Las Vegas last Saturday.
“Not having the headgear was a good thing because I was able to see everything,” the junior featherweight said after his first-round stoppage of Jesse Anguiano on the Brandon Rios-Richard Abril undercard. “I really didn’t like the headgear.”
Williams, a 19-year-old short but swift southpaw from New Haven, Conn., spoke with BoxingScene.com about his first outing in the professional ranks, signing a managerial contract with James Prince, and how he plans to make future foes of all sizes fear “The Midget.”
BoxingScene.com: Congratulations on your first win, on a big stage no less. What stuck out in your mind as far as comparing the pros to the amateurs?
Tramaine Williams: It felt good. I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time. One of the biggest things was the difference in my defense. Not having the headgear was a good thing because I was able to see everything. I really didn’t like the headgear.
BoxingScene.com: What about the lighter gloves in the pros? How has that factored in so far for you being able to sit down on your punches?
Tramaine Williams: I was able to stop him, but I really didn’t get hit, either, so I can’t really tell you how it feels to get hit by the lighter gloves.
BoxingScene.com: Of course, your debut only lasted a round, but I’m sure you’ve thought of the new scoring system as well. Do you feel like you have to learn another language with what the pro judges emphasize?
Tramaine Williams: In the amateurs, the judges have kind of taken over boxing, because you have to fight for the judges and not yourself with the way it’s set up. I think with the pros’ scoring system, you have to fight hard from start to finish. In the amateurs, you can just potshot and run around. In the pros, you have to stand in and really fight.
BoxingScene.com: What do you think will be your biggest challenge in the pros?
Tramaine Williams: I think the biggest challenge is in your mind. Everything you need to control, you need to control it. If you get eight weeks to train for a fight, you have to use every second.
BoxingScene.com: You’ve got fast feet and fast hands, and combined with your southpaw stance, I have a feeling it will be your calling card in the pros. Who did you watch growing up?
Tramaine Williams: I used to watch Pernell Whitaker and Ricardo Williams [Jr.]. When I first started boxing, I didn’t watch boxing on TV actually. But one day, my trainer showed me a tape of Pernell Whitaker fighting Buddy McGirt (the first fight). Man, the way he slipped punches and threw combinations, and moved around the ring and did his thing, it surprised me. I felt like I fought like those guys but I didn’t even know it. So yeah, him and Ricardo Williams. I just liked their style.
BoxingScene.com: Whitaker panned out as a pro. He was pound-for-pound king and won multiple world titles in his prime. Meanwhile, Williams has taken a couple backward steps due to events outside the ring. Whitaker, too, had a few issues that ended his career. Does that ever cross your mind as far as avoiding the same mistakes?
Tramaine Williams: Yeah, I definitely want to learn from their mistakes and make sure it doesn’t happen to me.
BoxingScene.com: You’ve also changed trainers from Brian Clark to Edward Jackson and have moved training camp from New Haven to Houston. How has that transition gone so far?
Tramaine Williams: They’re kind of the same. It wasn’t a big transition. My old coach was kind of like Cus D’Amato. He was a wizard at breaking fighters down and bringing things out of you that you didn’t know you had, so they’re both kind of like that. I’ve been training in Houston at Savannah’s Gym. I’ve been getting a lot of good sparring down here.
BoxingScene.com: This fight was at 122 pounds. How long do you plan to campaign there?
Tramaine Williams: My body feels good. I want to say at 122 as long as possible, and sometime in the immediate future—not now, but soon—I’d like to fight the best prospects at 122, too.
BoxingScene.com: Have you signed with a manager yet?
Tramaine Williams: Yeah, I signed with James Prince.
BoxingScene.com: James has a long track record of success, from Floyd Mayweather earlier in his career, to Shane Mosley, and right now with Andre Ward. Why did you choose him?
Tramaine Williams: He was consistent. All the other managers were saying how they were going to do this and that, but James was consistent in calling me and asking how I’ve been doing. We talked a lot about the business, one thing led to another, and we found each other.
BoxingScene.com: James and Antonio Leonard work together a lot. Is that the case here, too?
Tramaine Williams: Yeah, Antonio’s in the picture as well.
BoxingScene.com: How about in terms of a promoter? You just fought on a Top Rank card. Does this mean you’ve signed with them, too?
Tramaine Williams: If they’re OK with giving me a better signing bonus, then I’m down. (Laughs) We’re still looking at our options.
BoxingScene.com: Now you’re not the only fighter from New Haven making waves, with Chad Dawson bringing pride to the city. How often do you guys interact, if at all? Does he give you advice on how to handle the pros?
Tramaine Williams: Me and Chad are real cool. He told me to stay focused. He always tells me that. Sometimes I don’t want to train, and he stays on me to make sure I’m on that same path he’s been.
BoxingScene.com: What’s your prediction for his rematch with Bernard Hopkins?
Tramaine Williams: I want to say knockout, but I think Chad Dawson wins by unanimous decision.
BoxingScene.com: Thanks for talking to us. If you could broadcast anything out there to the boxing world, what would it be?
Tramaine Williams: Watch out for me!
Ryan Maquiñana writes a weekly column for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area (CSNBayArea.com). He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and Ring Magazine’s Ratings Panel. E-mail him at [email protected] , check out his blog at norcalboxing.net or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.