By Jake Donovan
Thomas Williams Jr. overcame a knockdown to score two of his own en route to a 1st round knockout of Cornelius White in their ESPN2 Friday Night Fights main event in Shelton, Washington.
White entered the fight as a light heavyweight gatekeeper, with the onus on Williams to outperform his predecessors. The unbeaten rising prospect did just that for most of the round and fight, scoring a knockdown less than a minute into the contest.
An early ending seemed imminent, as White's balance was unsteady from the moment he peeled himself off of the canvas. Williams Jr. saw a knockout well within sight and moved in for the kill.
For a brief moment, it was nearly his undoing. A straight left hand connected for the southpaw, but what he didn't anticipate was getting clipped with a counter left hook. White threw the punch almost instinctively, flooring Williams Jr. hard and celebrating as if the fight was over.
Williams Jr. quickly composed himself, cognizant that one punch doesn't necessarily decide or dictate a fight.
"I wasn't hurt at all, just stunned. I was more embarrassed than anything else," Williams Jr. revealed afterward. "It was my first time on the canvas. I just took my time and picked myself up."
From the moment Williams Jr. rose to his feet, the fight was over for White. Another knockdown came towards the end of round one, this time courtesy of a sweeping right hook from Williams Jr. White once again climbed off the deck, but was taking a beating in a corner and well on his way to going down again as the referee waved off the contest just before the end of round one.
"It was very exciting. Even though I ended up on the canvas, it was a very exciting fight," Williams Jr. said afterward as his record improves to 16-0 (11KO). The bout was his first ring appearance since an eight-round decision over Yusaf Mack last November.
The stoppage over White makes a statement, as Williams Jr. was determined to outdo the rest of the field. White was stopped in three rounds by current unbeaten light heavyweight titlist Sergey Kovalev last June, his final fight as a contender before winning the belt from Nathan Cleverly in August.
Williams Jr. hopes to travel a similar path in 2014, perhaps even in a showdown with Kovalev at some point.
"I believe this will put me closer to a world title fight," Williams Jr. suggests. I believe, with 15 fights, it puts me closer. White was in there with WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev, and he went three rounds with him. I did it one round, making my statement."
Williams Jr. dedicated the fight earlier in the week to the memory of his uncle, who was murdered earlier this month.
In the televised co-feature, Rico Ramos rode three knockdowns en route to a 10-round decision over Jonathan Arrellano.
Scores were 98-89 (twice) and 98-88. Ramos (23-3, 13KO) scored two knockdowns in round four and another in the fifth in picking up his second consecutive win.
A matchup of unbeaten newcomers saw Juan Funez recover from an opening round knockdown to claim an unpopular four-round decision over Marcello Gallardo. Scores were 38-37 on all three scorecards, a decision met with a chorus of boos from the crowd on hand. Funez advances to 4-0 (1KO); Gallardo falls to 3-1 (0KO).
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, Yahoo Boxing Ratings Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox