After injuries struck down his early rise through the ranks, one could not have imagined that Liam Williams would be meeting a former world champion in what is considered a 50/50 clash.
Just two months after Liam Smith won the vacant WBO Super Welterweight title with a crunching knockout of John Thompson, Williams was making a comeback against the well-respected Kris Carslaw.
That night Liam Williams demolished Carslaw inside 2 rounds, highlighting his power with a jab to knockout the Scotsman.
Three fights later and Williams is a fast-rising prospect who now seems on the verge of taking on the best in the 154lb division.
But the man that has already done just that, is of the belief that this is a step-up far too early for Wales’ Williams.
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The Liverpudlian enjoyed a short spell as WBO champion, before he was lured into a mega-millions fight at the home of the Dallas Cowboys. That night he was outclassed by boxing superstar Canelo Alvarez, succumbing to body shots in the 9th.
But this is no crossroads fight for 28-year old Smith, as he firmly believes that the defeat to Alvarez was just a short blip in his world championship aspirations.
On the face of it, Liam Williams could be in deep on Saturday night, where he faces a man that has already been up the same route as Williams, but now has 4 world title fights under his belt and a learning experience with one of boxing’s best.
However, one could question just what experience did Smith gain in his three successful world title contests.
Thompson looked the part with his gangly frame, but was always vulnerable, with his chin left in the air.
He had already been knocked out inside 2 frames against Frank Galarza and came close to meeting the same fate in his short clash with Brandon Adams –which he won from the brink of defeat.
Then there was ‘Jimmy’ Kilrain Kelly who never should have been in the ring for a world title fight, and we are yet to know just how good his mandatory title challenger Predrag Radosevic is since he has yet to fight since that knockout loss.
But still, Smith did exactly what was expected of him in stopping all three of those opponents, and did manage to stick with Alvarez for 9 rounds, even if they were one-sided.
Williams’ hardest contest was last July when he met rival Gary Corcoran where he scored an 11th round stoppage.
Both are well rounded boxers with good punch resistance and thudding power. But the feeling is that Smith may know too much for Williams in those tight rounds, and that in itself could make all the difference.
It seems that as the fight wears on the two will begin to open up more and more with the action heating beyond boiling point.
But the key to winning the contest may lay in who controls the early sessions where both are tentative, aware of one another’s power.
The pick is that the man with the confidence of an unbeaten record will start the brighter, showing a little less regard for what his opponent can do in the early exchanges.
This attitude from Williams could well be all that is needed to edge the closest of bouts in his favour. But it could also lead him to defeat, using up too much energy early and allowing Smith to force home a late stoppage.
But that is the risk that a fighter with such confidence should be willing to take, and should he avoid gassing late on, then he will be rewarded by the fight’s conclusion.
Smith will begin to take command in the middle rounds before the two leave everything in the ring as the fight ticks into the championship rounds.
By the end of 12 scintillating rounds, Liam Williams can be awarded a contentious split decision verdict thanks to his disregard to warming into a fight early on.