Liam Williams loses close rematch with Liam Smith

Liam Williams loses close rematch with Liam Smith

By Dewi Powell: Clydach Vale’s Liam Williams (16-2-1, 11KO) was defeated by Liverpool’s Liam Smith (26-1-1, 14KO) in a closely fought contest on Saturday.

The 25-year-old super-welterweight performed well and earned plenty of plaudits. However, the judges favoured ‘Beefy’ at the neutral venue of Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena.

The Majority Decision came courtesy of debated 117-111, 116-112 and 114-114 scorecards. Smith’s win in the WBO title eliminator means he’s certain to challenge to become a two-time world champion in 2018.

His old belt is currently worn by Puerto Rican legend Miguel Angel Cotto (41-5, 33KO), who is due to defend it against America’s Sadam Ali (25-1, 14KO) on Saturday 2 December. Cotto has promised to retire afterwards and relinquish his sixth world title.

The action began slowly as Smith unexpectedly boxed on the back foot, a contrast from his pre-fight promises to make Williams ‘quit’. The Scouser’s output was relatively low for the first five rounds, though.

Williams was in hunting mode and appeared to catch up with Smith often enough to take the opening rounds, landing the evidently harder shots. The confidence of travelling fans was growing as chants of ‘Dully’, Williams’ nickname, echoed throughout the arena.

Whenever Smith landed something that wasn’t a jab, Williams responded straight away with more powerful punches to further encourage Smith to reverse. It was a positive start and Williams didn’t appear to spending a lot of energy during the opening phase.

Their first encounter hit the headlines for the wrong reason when Smith missed the 154lb weight limit and later clashed head with Williams. The incident, which left Williams’s eyelid with a severe double laceration, went unspotted by referee Terry O’Connor and meant he was unable to go on, affording Smith a Technical Knockout victory.

However, the rematch was fought in fair spirits and referee Steve Gray had minimal involvement. The only significant interruption came in the fifth round when Smith landed several left hooks whilst Williams was tangled in the ropes. It was more opportunistic than cynical, only leading to a warning from Gray.

Liam Williams Liam Smith Huw Fairclough 2

Smith didn’t enjoy any clear success until the sixth round when he single and double jabs found their target more frequently. The former Commonwealth and British champion took advantage of Williams’ aggression, scoring straight shots as Williams planted his feet a tad too much.

After that spell in the middle rounds, Williams bounced back in the ninth and 10th rounds. Smith’s mobility decreased and it led to thumping shoulder-to-shoulder exchanges, which Williams enjoyed with sharp uppercuts and thudding body shots around the sides.

There was some criticism for BT Sport and BoxNation commentators John Rawling and Barry Jones, who were judged by many to be very critical of Williams’ work.

During the tactical 12 rounder, Williams suffered minor injuries to both of his hands. The former Commonwealth champion has a history of injuries to his key tools but the latest ones aren’t thought to be serious, requiring mainly rest to recover.

It’s understood that Hall of Fame promoter Frank Warren has been persuaded to return to Cardiff at the start of 2018, having not promoted a show in the Welsh capital since November 2016.

Gary Lockett, who trains and manages Williams, wants ‘The Machine’ to challenge European champion Cedric Vitu (46-2, 19KO). The experienced Frenchman is unbeaten in his last 11 outings and a meeting with Williams is a natural headliner.

Williams still holds the British title but is unlikely to defend the Lord Lonsdale strap in his next outing. The British Boxing Board of Control (BBBoC) have ordered a final eliminator between Liverpool’s JJ Metcalfe (17-0, 9KO) and London’s Ted Cheeseman (11-0, 8KO).

Last night, Swansea’s Jay Harris (12-0, 7KO) ticked over with a sharp second round blowout of Gyula Dodu (13-8-1, 6KO). The Commonwealth super-flyweight champion ended the contest with a trademark body shot.

The 27-year-old is now mandatory for the vacant British belt and could challenge for it on Warren’s return to Wales, following in the footsteps of his father, Peter Harris, who owned the title in 1988.

Image by Huw Fairclough.

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