Gary Lockett’s hardest challenge has been to hold ‘The Machine’ back from full throttle

Gary Lockett’s hardest challenge has been to hold ‘The Machine’ back from full throttle

The hardest challenge of Liam Williams’ (16-0-1, 11KO) training camp to face namesake rival Liam Smith (24-1, 13KO) has been holding him back from full throttle, according to the man preparing ‘The Machine’.

Trainer and manager Gary Lockett, who challenged for the lineal world middleweight title nine years ago, has handled Williams’ day-to-day activities in the gym since 2012. Their five-year partnership has led them to three domestic championship belts and a WBO Interim world title shot at the Manchester Arena.

The unbeaten contender is renown as one of Britain’s most fanatical trainers and that dedication has never been questioned. However, Lockett believes that Williams’ desire could have also been detrimental if it wasn’t harnessed in an efficient way ahead of the Saturday 8 April date with Liverpool’s former champion Smith.

Speaking to on the weekend, Lockett said: “The hardest bit is holding Liam back really because he’s so dedicated. He wants to keep pushing himself to the limit, so I think the main thing for me is holding him back and trying to keep him that little bit fresh.

“All the training is done now but for example, I wouldn’t really want him to do anything tonight (Saturday night). He’s just done his last hard spar, 10 rounds and he’ll probably be out running tonight. It’s all-good now, though.

“The last hard week is always my major concern because that’s when people pick up little niggling injuries and you have a couple of spars praying they don’t get any injuries or cuts. Luckily enough, he sailed through that today and we’re all good to go.”

Throughout the last three months, Lockett and Williams have been on the receiving end of double and triple verbal jabs from Team Smith. Until recently, the duo have mainly been spared such criticism and they’ve held their tongue from responding. In a sport, and certainly time, when trash talk sells tickets and television subscriptions, their stance on the situation is an unorthodox one.

Explaining the ethos, Lockett said: “[Williams’ behaviour] is the way I expect all my fighters to be. At the end of the day, he’s had the experience once where he lost his temper [vs Gary Corcoran WTKO11]. He’s learned from that and he realised doing that is not good for him, it’s not a good to beat them. I think he’s been very mature in the way he’s acted.

“People can say what they want. Every Tom, Dick and Harry can say what they want. It’s what happens on fight night which is the important thing. That’s all we really care about. In our gym, we have a reputation of being sort of squeaky clean and respectful of people and I want that to continue.”

Smith, who trains with Joe Gallagher at the Gloves Community Centre in Bolton, has stated his belief that Williams’ enthusiasm for a ding dong will be his undoing. There’s a lot that can be interpreted from a boxer’s comments in the build up to a big fight, theories to their true meaning are suggested and they often contradict each other.

For that reason, Lockett isn’t over analysing anything of Smith’s comments. He said: “I couldn’t tell you [what they mean]. I’m not thinking too much about Liam Smith, I’m thinking about Liam Williams and what we can do right. Liam Smith is a quality fighter, he’s proved that, he had a very gutsy performance against [Saul Alvarez] Canelo [LTKO9]. It’s going to be a tough fight for both fighters and I don’t think it needs any trash talk.

“There’s one reason this fight is being made and that is because it’s one of the best fights that can be made in British boxing. It’s made because it’s BT Sport’ (boxing broadcasting) debut and they want to impress. A fight of this magnitude doesn’t need selling.”

Hall of Fame promoter Frank Warren has used his experience to ensure the winning super-welterweight is placed in the strongest of positions as WBO Interim champion. Tactically though, the career-defining job in hand remains the same for the Welshmen and nothing changes for the pair, who were always aware of the belt’s potential introduction.

Lockett said: “I negotiated the terms on the pretense that it was going to be a WBO title fight. The negotiations were that the terms stay the same whether it’s a WBO title fight or not. It’s not the full title, it’s the Interim and its looking like Canelo will vacate [after his upcoming non-title fight against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr].

“For me, it’s exactly the same fight, it doesn’t make any difference to me as a coach. For Liam, it’s a bigger incentive because it’s a title but for me, it’s exactly the same job because we’re fighting the same quality of fighter in Liam Smith.”

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