AND THE WINNER IS...
Smith and Williams have unfinished business, writes
We analyse Smith-williams II and make our prediction on who will be victorious
FOR he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother.” So the line goes in William Shakespeare’s Henry V, and it’s one that – usually – can be applied to two boxers after they’ve fought one another.
That doesn’t appear to be the case for British super-welterweights Liam Smith and Liam Williams. Back in April they shared nine enthralling rounds, both suffering nasty cuts, before Williams’ gash was deemed too costly by his trainer Gary Lockett, who pulled his man out before the 10th stanza.
The controversy surrounding that climax – the cut appeared to have been caused by a clash of heads and not a punch as the referee ruled – is the main reason these two are meeting this Saturday (November 11) at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle, but the subsequent fallout has added a layer of genuine animosity that gives fans yet another enveloping domestic rivalry.
As you will have read, both have conflicting theories about that memorable night at the Manchester Arena seven months ago. Smith believes Williams looked for a way out after that grotesque cut opened on his right eyelid, while the Welshman insists Smith intentionally headbutted him and should have been disqualified. Even outside of that gory ninth round there was more intrigue. Williams, unbeaten going into that first fight, started fast and controlled the first six rounds with smart boxing and movement. Smith, who never minds giving away rounds to get a measure of his opponent, was cut badly in the third and had to contend with a constant stream of blood flowing down his face for the rest of the contest. He burst into life in the seventh, his left hooks to the body paying dividends
and Williams certainly slowed down. Suddenly, the Liverpudlian was in the ascendency and we had a tantalising finale on our hands – until Williams’ eye burst open. They briefly embraced once the fight was over, both covered in blood, but it didn’t take long for the war of words to start and now, just days away from the rematch, the tension between them is palpable.
Despite nine rounds of evidence, the return is an exceptionally difficult to fight to predict. Smith failed to make weight for the first fight and there’s a solid argument that his struggles with the scales affected his performance. He admitted that he entered training camp too heavy, and that those final few pounds just wouldn’t budge.
However, he clearly had problems with Williams’ style in the first half of that fight. Williams boxed well on the front foot and back, landing down the middle and with scything hooks round Smith’s high guard. That being said, he shipped a fair bit of punishment himself and, in the seventh and ninth rounds, there were spells where it seemed Smith’s shots were doing more damage.
Clearly, Smith has a decent engine as he was able to come on strong in those later rounds (though it should also be noted his output in the early rounds was fairly low), while Williams needed to take the odd break here and there, perhaps to conserve his stamina. The furthest he’s gone into a fight is the 11th round, and he’s only done that once when he stopped Gary Corcoran last year. Smith has done the full 12 rounds twice before.
The first half of this rematch is likely to be fairly similar, though Smith may start a bit faster and make things closer. Smith’s aggressive, vicious style will always trouble a boxer like Williams, but “The Machine” also showed grit in their first meeting. There’s likely to be more blood spilt before this rivalry is over, and this time Williams should be able to build on his early lead, work his way through some tough and trying stages in the second half of the fight and win on the cards in another close and fiery tussle.
On the undercard of this Queensbery Promotions show, West Rainton’s
Thomas Patrick Ward should retain his British super-bantamweight title on points against Birmingham’s Sean Davis. Nantwich heavyweight prospect
Nathan Gorman takes on unbeaten Russian-german Mohamed Soltby over 10, while there is also an intriguing super-lightweight 12-rounder between Guisborough’s Josh Leather and Sunderland’s Glenn Foot. BT Sport and Boxnation air the show in the UK.
THE VERDICT If he can keep his head, Williams should gain revenge and set up a potential trilogy fight.
HEADS UP: Smith [right] will later be aqccused of deliberately headbutting his rival. And certainly, when looking back on replays of the ninth round, it’s hard to argue against such charges