Seven months on, Welsh warlord Liam Williams remains adamant that Liam Smith resorted to foul means when relieving him of his unbeaten record during their high grade and highly controversial interim WBO Super-Welter dust-up at Manchester Arena.
The 25 year old reigning British champion flew out of the starting blocks and was ahead on all three judges’ cards when that ‘Big Bang’ occurred late in round nine.
‘Heads had been bumping all night and you train to get your head into the right place so that, if and when that happens, you incur minimal damage,’ says the man from the Rhondda who conceded on his stool after 16 wins and a draw.
‘But I definitely felt the final butt was deliberate. Smith feinted with the jab to pave the way for his nut. It was no accident.
‘One million percent Smith should’ve been disqualified. I felt very let down by the referee (Terry O’Connor). I feel he robbed me of my unbeaten record and chance to become world champion. I can’t see how he possibly missed such a blatant butt.
‘From the offset, I thought I was on the back foot with the ref. Every time we came together, it was always me who he pushed away so, immediately, I was on the back foot.
‘Earlier in the fight, Gary (Lockett, his trainer/manager) had called him over to complain about Smith’s head but he just shook his head and told us to ‘Get on with it’?!’
Ahead of their salivating and no doubt spite filled rematch at Newcastle’s Metro Arena on Saturday week, Williams is quick to remind fight folk that the concluding ‘collision’ had nothing to do with the Scouser’s fists or supremacy as a boxer.
‘It was the decision of the doctor and Gary to withdraw me,’ he stresses.
‘When the cut happened, the blood streamed into my eye and my vision was one big blur. There were two cuts side by side on my eyelid with the tiniest bit of skin holding them together. If I’d taken a couple more blows on the injury my eyeball could’ve been exposed. I knew it was bad from the pain I was in. It took eight stitches and a lot of glue to patch me up.
‘I fully respect that decision but, look, I’m a fighter and 100% I’d have continued if allowed. Sometimes us fighters need saving from ourselves. I’m a young man with a family. You come out healthy and live to fight another day.
‘Smith’s got some front saying that he was cut earlier in the fight (round three) but continued whereas I ‘spewed it’ the moment I started bleeding. You can’t compare the cuts; totally different scale and location. It just shows how ignorant he is!'
‘If he wants to make the rematch nasty, we’ll make it nasty. This time I’ll do anything to win!’
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).
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.