Liam Williams warns bitter nemesis Liam Smith to prepare for an improved product, both physically and mentally, when they continue their long standing and very public feud at Newcastle’s Metro Arena on November 11th, BT Sport and BoxNation screen live.
In their feisty initial encounter in Manchester last April, the 25-year-old reigning British super-welter king from the Rhondda Valley showed his class to edge ahead on all three cards before his enforced withdrawal, following a butt induced cut after nine rounds.
In defeat, the pride of Clydach Vale was forced to surrender his 17 fight unbeaten record and his dream of lifting the WBO interim title. Nevertheless, he insists the pain was short-lived.
‘I was only down for a couple of days before I gave myself a kick up the arse and started to look to the future,’ says the Gary Lockett coached box-fighter.
‘Obviously it was disappointing to lose my unbeaten record but it’s not as if I took a pasting, got sparked out, or was made a fool of. No one is saying Liam Smith outclassed me.
‘In fact, I took a lot more positives than negatives from the fight. I think I ticked a lot of boxes; I dealt well with the pressure of such a high level promotion and proved my stamina, showed my ability, against a world class fighter, a former world champion.
‘Going in, I thought I was good enough to compete in top class, now I actually know that I am.’
While the judges endorsed the Welshman’s superiority during the 27 minutes that the first encounter lasted, Team Williams have been conscious to guard against any complacency.
‘Trust me, this time, I’m a lot better prepared,’ insists lionheart Liam who has prepped at the Phoenix Gym in Llanrumney.
‘I’ve put myself through enormous sacrifice. Come fight night, I’ll have been at it for 16 weeks and my physique is rock solid. Expect to see me a lot, lot stronger.
‘I’ve cut down on the number of long runs and replaced them with a lot of high intensity 400 metre and 800 metre track work. That’s brought big improvements.
‘I’ve been bang on form in the gym. I’ve sparred a ridiculous number of rounds with some very good champions and, without mentioning names, I’ve been smashing them up. Also, my mind is devoid of the distractions that affected me in the build up to the first fight. I’m far more carefree and focussed, in a very good place mentally.’
Previously revered for his ruggedness and raw power, Williams attracted many new admires for the slick skills and nous which he deployed to coast into a wide early lead on all cards in Manchester. He expects Team Smith to amend their game plan ahead of the re-sit.
‘First fight, it was partly me starting fast, partly him starting slow,’ states Williams.
‘I was very nervous going in but controlled that very well and conserved energy. This time, I expect he’ll come out firing but if he does, he’ll get hit a lot more and might even get put to sleep early!
‘It might be cagey for a round or two but, let’s be realistic here, it’s not going to be a box-off. We’ve both got big points to prove. It won’t be long before it opens up and the biggest winners will be the fans.
‘I was pretty stoked for the first fight but my motivation is a million percent higher this time. I just want to beat Smith up. And when that happens and he comes pleading for a third fight, he can ‘f*** off’! I’ll be heading to the world title.’
Elsewhere on a huge evening of boxing in Newcastle Country Durham’s Thomas Patrick Ward (20-0) will defend his British Super-Bantamweight Championship against Brimingham’s Sean Davis (13-1-0)
Rising Guisborough Super-Lightweight star Josh Leather (12-0) makes the first defence of his IBF European title against Sunderland rival Glenn Foot (21-2).
Ricky Hatton-trained Heavyweight Nathan Gorman (10-0) takes on Mohammed Soltby (13-0) for the Vacant WBC International Heavyweight Championship.
Explosive Super-Middleweight Mark Heffron (Oldham, 16-0) another of Ricky Hatton’s excellent young stable of fighters, takes on former Tommy Langford and Jamie Cox opponent Lewis Taylor (19-4-1); undefeated Jeff Saunders (11-0) of Sedgefield takes on undefeated Liverpudlian Steven Lewis (14-0)
In addition, local prospects Troy Williamson (Darlington, 3-0) Kalam Leather (Guisborough, 2-0) Joe Maphosa (Thornaby, 1-0) and Michael Watson (Sedgefield, Pro debut) will all appear on the bill.