There remains plenty at stake for this weekend’s middleweight clash between Liam Williams and Alantez Fox, including the chance to eventually fight for a major title.
It’s just not an opportunity that is guaranteed to take place next for the winner.
BoxingScene.com has learned that Saturday’s crossroads bout—which airs live on BT Sport and ESPN+ from Copper Box Arena in Hackney Wick, England—will not carry sanctioning as a World Boxing Organization (WBO) final middleweight title eliminator, as previously advertised. The WBO Inter-Continental title will be at stake but does not ensure the winner will next face reigning middleweight titlist Demetrius Andrade.
“The fight is for the Intercontinental title; it is not an eliminator bout,” Francisco ‘Paco’ Valcárcel, president of WBO confirmed to BoxingScene.com on Thursday.
Confusion over the exact stakes of the scheduled 12-round contest– which serves in supporting capacity to a WBO regional heavyweight title fight between England’s Daniel Dubois (13-0, 12KOs) and Japan’s Kyotaro Fujimoto (21-1, 13KOs)—first surfaced during the annual WBO convention earlier this month in Tokyo, Japan.
A review of the middleweight ratings had Fox (26-1-1, 12KOs)—a 6’5” middleweight from Upper Marlboro, Maryland—as the number one contender at the time, while Wales’ Williams (21-2-1, 16KOs) was number seven. Queensberry Promotions’ Francis Warren provided an update on Williams in that he was set to face Fox in a final eliminator contest as advertised upon the fight announcement. The suggestion was met with immediate rejection from the WBO, which came with a counter proposal.
“It’s gonna be a great fight and if Liam was to win the fight, we would like him to move into the number one spot,” Warren requested.
The WBO declined, but offered the promise of making available a regional title at stake for the contest, which has since been confirmed.
The most recent WBO rankings now show Jaime Munguia in the number one position. The former 154-pound titlist from Mexico will make his debut at middleweight in a Jan. 11 clash versus Ireland’s Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan. A win will likely place him—and not the winner of Williams-Fox—in position for a title shot versus Andrade (28-0, 17KOs), who next faces Ireland’s Luke Keeler in a voluntary defense. Andrade was permitted the fight, on the condition he next face his WBO-assigned mandatory.
Williams (21-2-1, 16KOs) enters the contest riding a five-fight win streak, all inside the distance since suffering back-to-back losses to former titlist Liam Smith in 2017. The 27-year old Welshman shared a card with Dubois in his most recent outing, stopping Karim Achour in two rounds this past July at The O2 in London. The show saw Dubois advanced from prospect to rising heavyweight contender following a 5th round knockout of Nathan Gorman.
Fox (26-1-1, 12KOs) has claimed three straight wins following a 12-round points loss to Andrade (28-0, 17KOs) in their Oct. 2017 non-title fight. The slow-moving affair saw Fox score a knockdown over Andrade, a former two-time junior middleweight titlist at the time who was moving up to middleweight. It wasn’t nearly enough to upset the apple cart, although Fox hasn’t lost a round since then, including an eight-round shutout of Bruno Romay this past October in Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico, which helped advance him to the number one slot in the latest WBO rankings.
The winner will make a strong case to challenge for a middleweight title in 2020—though an argument that won’t yet come with the support of a sanctioning body mandate.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox