AND THE WIN­NER IS...

Smith and Williams have un­fin­ished busi­ness, writes

Boxing News - - Contents - Ge­orge Gigney

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.

Photo: AC­TION IM­AGES/PE­TER CZIBORRA

Photo: AC­TION IM­AGES

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

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