Underdog Williams claims Sheeraz has made a big mistake ahead of crunch clash

It might not be the last throw of the dice just yet for Liam Williams, but the Welsh middleweight contender has arguably his first fight as the ‘opponent’ this weekend when he challenges prospect Hamzah Sheeraz. 

Williams, who boxed for the world title against Demetrius Andrade and lost on points in the USA in 2021, is 25-4-1 (20KOs), and the 31-year-old wants another run at the big time, but he knows the pressure is off as the hype and expectation is behind Sheeraz.

“Exactly,” Williams agreed. “And to be honest, I like being in this position. People writing me off, they’ve brought me in to get beat, they think he’s going to do a number on me but I’ve got very different plans. I’m feeling good. I’m fit, strong, injury-free and from my point of view they’ve made a big mistake and I’m going to go there and rip up the script.”

Sheeraz is 18-0 and has won 14 times inside the distance. The 24-year-old, who is 6ft 3ins, is one of British boxing’s brightest hopes.

“I do rate him highly,” admitted Williams. “He’s a very, very good operator. He can box, he can stand and fight and he can crack a bit, he’s got size on his side, as well, but the way we’ve been working in the gym and with the sparring partners, I’ve been showing a lot of the old Liam Williams, which [trainer] Gary [Lockett]’s been drumming back into me, picking up on certain things. I’m just very confident that I’m my old self, back with Gary, at home. I’m very comfortable within myself.”

Williams’s camp has included a couple of spars with former Olympic silver medallist Ben Whittaker, and the Welshman is still ambitious and retains his confidence. He also has seen Sheeraz struggle in fights. 

“He's had sticky moments himself, and I fully believe I can go there and really do a number on him and I believe I’m going to,” Williams said. “I’ve just got too much grit and determination at this stage, I’m really flying.” 

Trainer Lockett has a similar assuredness about the task at hand.

“I think it’s a big step up for Hamzah, and I think it’s a perfect fight for Liam because he didn’t want tick-overs, he wanted difficult fights, and what more difficult a fight than the current Young Boxer of the Year [2022], which Liam previously won [in 2016] himself. 

“It’s a big test for Liam because everyone thinks he’s shot anyway, don’t they, so in my eyes Liam’s got nothing to lose.”

Do people really think Williams is at the end of the line?

“Absolutely,” Lockett continued. “Just look at the comments [online]. Every time there’s a mention of Liam or fighting Sheeraz, or fighting anyone else, everyone just says he’s ‘gone’. 

“They say he got beat up by [Chris] Eubank and he’s finished. What’s he got to lose? If people think that, what’s he got to lose? If you see all the spars we’ve had over the last year or so, you certainly wouldn’t be of that opinion.

“I said to him the other day, you’re 31. You’re an experienced fellow now, you’ve got to start listening a bit and the reason you’re not a world champion is down to the small percentages. Doing stupid things, not listening… Like against Demetrius Andrade, just trying to walk through him. You can’t do that with that calibre of fighter. Listen for once.” 

Lockett, too, thinks there might be issues with Sheeraz’s resilience or experience. He hinted that Sheeraz might not be the prospect many consider him to be.

“I don’t know if he takes a good punch or not,” Lockett went on. “We’ve heard a few things… [People] asking why Bradley Skeete didn’t get a rematch. Skeete was outboxing him and moving up in weight and shots on the ground got rid of him and Skeete never got a return.”

Williams moved away from Lockett and has worked with Adam Booth and Dominic Ingle, but he is back in Wales now and is happy, confident and ambitious once more.

On Saturday (February 10), at the Copper Box Arena, comes the roll of the dice against Sheeraz.