By Ryan Maquiñana
Junior featherweight prospect Tramaine Williams kicked off his 2013 campaign with a dominant four-round shutout of John Herrera on the Brandon Rios-Mike Alvarado II undercard last month, but he did it with the type of flair that would keep the most casual of boxing fans stuck to the tube.
Whether darting in and out of traffic, or artfully crouching in front of Herrera to avoid volleys that buzzed by his ears, the swift little southpaw known as “The Midget” also displayed enough pop on the offensive end to garner his foe’s respect.
Now the 20-year-old Williams (6-0, 2 KOs), who is managed by power broker James Prince and promoted by Top Rank, takes the show to the Erwin Center in Austin, Tex., when he faces Ricardo Valencia (3-3-1) on an UniMás-televised undercard this Saturday.
BoxingScene.com: You looked sharp against Herrera last time out. This is now year two in the pros. Do you feel you’ve made a full adjustment from the amateurs? What’s one thing you’ve learned about the pro game so far?
Tramaine Williams: Definitely. I had to change my style from the amateurs, which was kind of like fencing in that you would have to get in and out to score. Now I have more time to sit on my shots and pick my shots.
In the pros, it’s about power shots. You can land more punches than me, but I can land the harder shots and win the round. I think I throw everything as a power punch, but my favorite is throwing anything with my left hand even though I’m right-handed.
BoxingScene.com: What do you know about your opponent, Ricardo Valencia?
Tramaine Williams: I’ve seen him fight on YouTube. He’s decent, but I think I’m going to have an easy fight. I signed with Top Rank because I feel like they can keep me busy and move me the fastest, and I definitely feel my decision was the right one so far.
BoxingScene.com: You looked much bigger in the shoulders since your pro debut last year, and you seem to be filling out at 122 pounds. Is this just something that’s been a natural development, or have you been under a strength and conditioning program?
Tramaine Williams: I think my body’s starting to fill out. I really notice it in my back. I never really did strength and conditioning as an amateur. I’ve been doing more sprints, a lot of medicine ball work, dumbbells, you name it.
BoxingScene.com: You currently train in Houston with Edward Jackson, and Ricardo Williams Jr. is among the guys in your camp. How has Ricardo (no relation) been an influence on you?
Tramaine Williams: His confidence is rubbing off on me. As a fighter, you’re supposed to have a certain level of confidence or cockiness—not to where it’s arrogance—but enough to keep you mentally strong in the ring. It’s weird when I watch him fight. We fight the same, so it’s mesmerizing sometimes.
BoxingScene.com: What about the physical aspects of his style that have rubbed off on you?
Tramaine Williams: The slickness. He’s got punching power, too, but they don’t give him credit. The power comes from his speed, and speed is power. When he unleashes a five-punch combination in two seconds, man, that’s something I want to add to my game. He’s got a beautiful hook. He goes to the body good, and the way he moves to his right when he jabs is amazing, because he can control the pace with that when he’s on. He’s been doing this before I was born.
BoxingScene.com: Ricardo’s past troubles outside the ring when he made the transition from an Olympic silver medal to the pros are well-documented. Has he talked to you about that at all?
Tramaine Williams: Yeah, he did. I feel like the mistakes he made, in a way, he made them so I don’t have to make them. He told me a lot about that, too. He’s been a mentor to me, in a way.
BoxingScene.com: With Guillermo Rigondeaux beating Nonito Donaire, and Donaire likely moving up to 126 pounds, the landscape at junior featherweight is going to be a little different in the upcoming years. You’re still far from world title contention due to your youth, but how do you feel about where you stand and where you want to go?
Tramaine Williams: Man, I wish Donaire had used me as a sparring partner for Rigondeaux. I could’ve given him some good work. My time will come. For now, I’m just going to keep working in the gym and take the torch from them when I’m ready. But I feel like at the rate I’m improving, it won’t be long. You’ll see.
Ryan Maquiñana was the boxing producer for NBCOlympics.com during London 2012 and writes a weekly column for CSNBayArea.com. He is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Ratings Panel for Ring Magazine. E-mail him at [email protected], check out his blog at Norcalboxing.net, or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.