English Super-Middleweight czar Darryll Williams is all fighter; built like a fighter, scowls like a fighter, struts like a fighter, barks like a fighter.
But the 5ft 9in slab of black marble who sports a ‘Built for War’ tattoo and owns a maximum security glare is promising fight fans a style make-over that would flatter Gok Won, when he returns to duty after 11 months of exile at London’s O2 Arena on June 23rd.
After a brief stint under two-weight world champion Ricky Hatton up in Manchester, ‘Ferocious’ from Forest Hill recently relocated to Swansea, Wales to rekindle his alliance with native Welshman Dave John, the coach who first instructed the rough and rugged 18 year old in the nuances of The Noble Art at the Double Jab gym in Herne Hill.
People are in for a shock regarding my boxing ability,’ warns the dipping, ducking, slugging, hooking south Londoner who makes no secret of his past life as a hoodlum on the unforgiving streets of SE23.
‘I’m back with the man who gave me my raw style as a teenage amateur. David realised that my personality determined I was never going to allow myself to be put on the back foot. But lately I’ve been working on different things; everything off the jab, feinting.
‘Look, the fighting part, the raw aggression, the heart, the chin, can’t really be taught. You get that from the street and it’ll always be there. After my fights, people often said: ‘That would’ve been a good fight OUT of the ring!’
‘The excitement will always be there, guaranteed, but now there’ll be boxing within the fighting. I’ve just added subtleties and science picked up at other gyms to the aggression and rawness I always had.
‘In Wales, I’ve become associated with a company, AJM Boxing, that’s looked after me really well, handled my strength and conditioning, introduced me to yoga and gymnastics. It’s really improved my flexibility. My patience and timing are better and I deliver my punches in a unique way. There’ll be a lot more finesse and technicality.’
Last November, aged just 27, sporting a perfect 16 fight slate (six stoppages) and fresh off a brace of impressive English title wins against Leicester man Smyle, headstrong Williams astounded the trade by announcing his ring retirement, citing lack of opportunities. Hence, the dormancy.
However, he re-considered earlier this year after receiving re-assurances from Hall of Fame promoter Frank Warren.
‘On Saturday, I’ve got to make myself look like I’m worth the hassle,’ claims the 28 year old who is managed by Mickey Helliet.
‘It’s been very frustrating and a lot of mental strength was required to keep going but we’re here now and I’m chomping at the bit, ready to go.
‘As much as it’s been difficult to retain focus, the time away has been beneficial because it’s allowed me to become comfortable with the changes I’ve made.’
On Saturday night, warlord Williams makes his return on a stacked London show with outstanding young talent.
‘It’ll be great to be part of the history of an arena that’s hosted so many iconic fighters, musicians, comedians,’ concludes ‘Ferocious’, a father of one, who relaxes by reading books on war strategy!
‘Once I get through next weekend, I just want to remain busy. I’d rather have four smaller fights in quick succession than wait for one big one.
‘I may not be respectful to the opposition once a fight is made but I don’t waste time calling people out.
‘The one that does interest me is (Chris) Eubank Jr. We’ve history dating back to 2012 when, as I was walking back to my corner before a spar, he ran up behind me and hit me on the back of the head. I’m not having that crap! When the spar started, it was more of a street brawl and he just kept holding. Even his coach Ronnie Davies had to tell him to stop holding on. Eventually his Dad pulled me off.
‘Junior can only fight one way, front foot, and nobody pushes ‘Ferocious’ back!’
Two-weight world champion Carl Frampton believes huge-hitting Belfast welterweight Lewis Crocker has all the tools to succeed at boxing’s highest level.
‘The Croc’ has stopped all five of his professional opponents to date and hopes to continue that run on the undercard of Michael Conlan’s homecoming bout at The SSE Arena on June 30.
With heavy hands and speed to burn, the 21-year-old is one of the worst-kept secrets in Irish boxing and Frampton is hopeful Crocker’s mature approach ensures his potential is fulfilled.
Frampton said: “It’s obvious Lewis punches very fast and very hard. He’s just an explosive fighter. He’s very young and still learning but there’s great potential there.
“He’s someone who has his head screwed on. He’s still a kid but he’s already started to show impressive maturity. I don’t think he’s the type to be out partying all the time.
“He’s settled down already and is taking this sport very seriously. He’s fully focused on boxing. As time goes on, I imagine he’ll open up a bit more and become a bit more outspoken.
“If he ever wanted my advice, I would happily speak to him. I’m not the type of person who always thinks I know best but I’d be happy to give advice to Lewis if and when I’m asked.”
When asked of his phenomenal power, Crocker said: “My power is always there right from the first round to the 10th or 12th round.
“If it’s four and six rounds, people can run away for that long but when they slow down, that’s when I’ll find them easier. I perform better against better fighters anyway.”
Crocker features on a colossal card that includes Michael Conlan v Adeilson Dos Santos, Jack Catterall v Tyrone McKenna, Jono Carroll v Declan Geraghty, Paddy Gallagher v Gary Corcoran, Johnny Coyle v Lewis Benson, Tyrone McCullagh v Joe Ham and more.
Ryan Garner may be barely out of his teen years but already the spiteful punching Southampton starlet has designs on proving himself ‘The Daddy’ of the domestic featherweight division.
Once a European schoolboy champion, the aptly named ‘Piranha’ has already shredded seven significantly more seasoned circuit fighters since debuting in June 2016, and only two managed to complete the scheduled four rounds.
‘I know that, outside the ring, I still look a baby-faced kid but I’ve never felt like the ‘boy’ between the ropes,’ states the 5ft 6in angel-faced assassin who steps up to six round level on Saturday’s talent-stacked bill at London’s O2 Arena.
‘Already, I’m as strong as every opponent I’ve fought – I’ve pushed ‘em all back - and I’ll only get stronger. I do a lot of S and C work against my own body weight, loads of stability and core work.
‘As a very young kid, I was really mouthy and my two older brothers used to batter me. I had to learn to fight back from a very young age. They toughened me up pretty quickly. I may only be 20 but I’ve been at this a long time. I just really love fighting.’
The 20 year old’s 7-0 slate lists just 21 paid rounds but already the fearless Frank Hopkins managed prospect is eyeing the domestic 9st elite.
‘Right now, the British featherweight division is booming and I can’t wait to get involved,’ claims the ex-carpenter’s apprentice who is trained by Wayne Batten on England’s south coast.
‘You’ve got Frampton, Warrington and Selby at world level. Ryan Walsh is a real top quality British champion who can really switch it on, on his best nights. He’s very well drilled, no glaring weaknesses. I think he’ll come through his rematch with Isaac Lowe. I didn’t really rate Isaac when we sparred.
‘Recently, I won a lot of money on Ryan Doyle against Reece Bellotti. While Bellotti has heavy hands, his boxing ability is shocking.
‘But in a couple of years down the line, I’ll be happy to get in with any of them. I just need to get valuable experience at six, eight and ten round level. If I want to be a major champion, I’ll HAVE to fight someone good.
‘Ideally, I want to be 11-0, 12-0 and fighting in eight rounders by the end of this year, knocking at the door for 10 round title fights. Without doubt, I know I’ll get there.’
Latterly, Saints fan Ryan has accelerated his apprenticeship with extensive spars against white hot Irish double Olympian Michael Conlan.
‘I’ve been having quality spars two or three times a week with Mick at Adam Booth’s gym in London, ahead of his homecoming in Belfast next weekend,’ says Garner who represented England on 19 occasions as an amateur.
‘We really push each other and you’d pay to watch us. He’s 26 and I’m still only 20. Mick’s punch variety is very good and he’s so smart. He forces me to think more. My boxing intelligence has come on hugely.
‘He’s also a really nice guy who helps me massively. He tells me that I’m more than capable of winning titles. I’m learning far more sparring him than I am in my fights.’
Saturday’s bonanza bill features several of the nation’s most gifted young talents and the scramble for post-fight accolades and column inches is sure to be intense. Garner, who confronts Hungary’s 6-3 Norbert Eszenyi, will need to be at his vicious best if he is to court attention.
‘Fight night is feeding time for ‘The Piranha’!’ he quips.
‘I turned pro for these kind of nights. Hopefully, fans will enjoy my all-action style and my passion. I throw a lot of punches, that’s my main attribute. As opponents fade, I get more into it.
‘It’s a good test. From what I’ve seen on tape, my opponent’s a very game boy, likes to fight back. But that’s how you learn, get rounds. I intend to stop him, but hopefully, it won’t happen too early.
‘I can’t wait to show the fans what I’m made of. I promise people won’t be disappointed.’