Hamzah Sheeraz versus Austin “Ammo” Williams: Exactly the type of fight that should always happen as a matter of course in boxing but rarely does. 

Hamzah Sheeraz versus Austin “Ammo” Williams: A 50/50 tussle that pitches two highly promising rising stars together to ascertain which of them is better.

Hamzah Sheeraz versus Austin “Ammo” Williams: A contest so well-matched that it makes the picking of the winner an exceptionally difficult task.

Seriously, what’s not to like?

This middleweight collision is one of six scheduled 12-rounders to take place at Riyadh’s Kingdom Arena in Saudi Arabia on Saturday (June 1) and one of the ‘5 vs 5’ tournament that pitches boxers from the Queensberry and Matchroom stables against each other. Expect plenty of pantomime-style theatrics from the heads of those groups – Frank Warren and Eddie Hearn respectively – but we shouldn’t forget that it’s the boxers and not the promoters who really have the most to lose.

Born in Slough, the 25-year-old Sheeraz (19-0, 14 KOs) is one of the most touted up-and-comers in the UK with Warren recently comparing him to Thomas Hearns after his one-round blowout of Liam Williams in February. 

It’s easy to see why. Sheeraz is tall at 6ft 3ins and has that Hearns/Junior Jones/Milton McCrory-style physique with those broad shoulders which fire up his wiry, whip-cracker arms.  

It might also be easy to get a tad too carried away. Though Sheeraz has done all that’s been asked of him thus far he’s yet to beat a fighter who could be found in any worthwhile Top 10 rankings. Sheeraz thrashing Williams wasn’t exactly akin to Hearns icing Pipino Cuevas or Roberto Duran, let’s be honest. 

Liam, though the most accomplished of Sheeraz’s victims, was clearly long past his peak as he went down twice before being rescued. Other names on his record like Dmytro Mytrofanov, whom Sheeraz walloped in two last August, came with a glossy record but little in the way of real substance and others – like River Wilson-Bent, Jez Smith and Paul Kean – would all likely find winning even the British title a mountain too high.

Therefore, it might be argued that Sheeraz’s toughest assignment came against a still ambitious Bradley Skeete back in December 2021. Though the prospect eventually emerged victorious, he was criticised for hitting Skeete when he was on the canvas after the veteran had taught him plenty along the way. It figures that if Skeete could frustrate Sheeraz, “Ammo” has every chance of doing so to the point of victory. 

Though Williams (16-0, 11 KOs) is also a long way from proving himself at the highest level, he must be considered as Sheeraz’s toughest assignment yet. The 28-year-old southpaw oozes confidence in a way that the Briton’s previous opponents did not. Because Williams truly believes he’s on his way to the top and he's not second guessing about how much he has left.

“There isn’t anyone, at all, that Sheeraz has faced who’s like me,” the Houston, Texas resident observed. “Things like that are very important in terms of adjustment skills. If you have those fights where you had to adjust, it makes it easier to adjust in a [tough] spot. But everything is new, there is so much mental fortitude that goes into the adaptions, and I think it’s going to play a huge role in this fight. Not only has he not fought anyone like me, I am already at a different level to what I’ve been.”

The opposite is also true, however. Though one can make a case that Williams’ level of opposition has been a fraction better when considered as an overall body of work, he’s also yet to fight anyone who was regarded a genuine threat to his progression. Furthermore, though “Ammo” has been a comfortable victor in all his bouts, there has been a tendency to coast in certain contests and the likes of Steve Rolls and Kieron Conway, who both lasted the full 10, took rounds off Williams along the way. He’s clever, though, and one suspects if he can take the sting out of the Englishman’s jab, he’ll also go some way to removing the effectiveness of his trailing right.

A world title shot surely awaits the winner with both protecting lofty sanctioning body rankings, a fact that makes this matchup all the better – and all the more unlikely if it wasn’t for the Saudi cash put up as bounty. Williams is rated second by the WBC and fifth by both the WBA and IBF. The WBO, however, can find no place for him in their leading 15 middleweight contenders, a list in which Sheeraz is at the very top. He’s also second with the WBC but unranked by the WBA and IBF. The Ring, meanwhile, place Sheeraz seventh and Williams ninth.

It would not be a surprise to see Williams neutralize his rival’s advantages in height and reach but, out of the two, there remains a nagging feeling that destiny will side with Sheeraz. There's an intensity about him plus, thanks to that near-mishap with Skeete, evidence of maturity and a willingness to address his potential faults.

He seems to be the  harder hitter and is arguably the quicker, too.

Therefore the (tentative) pick is for Sheeraz to win this one, likely around the halfway mark, with a stoppage victory that might just steal the show.

Read our Filip Hrgovic vs. Daniel Dubois preview here. Tomorrow, we will look ahead to the light-heavyweight clash between Craig Richards and Willy Hutchinson.