By David Parsons
Liam Williams can prove his claim that he is back to his best when he faces rising star Hamzah Sheeraz at the Copper Box Arena in London on Saturday night.
It’s a big night for Wales’ former middleweight world title challenger – nicknamed, The Machine – even though he will not be the centre of attention.
The spotlight most definitely falls on Sheeraz, who is younger and unbeaten and tipped as one of the next big things in British boxing.
— World Boxing Council (@WBCBoxing) February 9, 2024
But Williams is keen to make up for lost time and throw a spanner in the works, even though the Clydach Vale fighter knows the clock is ticking.
At 31 and with four career losses, Williams cannot afford too many more setbacks if he is to realise his world title ambitions and is already two months behind schedule for this fight.
The former British and Commonwealth champion was due to face Sheeraz last December before his rival pulled out with a perforated eardrum, forcing the fight to be postponed by two-months.
🎯 @sheeraz_hamzah lists the names he will target if he passes the test of Liam Williams tomorrow.
— Boxing News+ (@BoxingNewsPlus) February 9, 2024
Sheeraz, 24, is being guided towards a world title shot of his own and his handlers see Williams as nothing more than a durable opponent to overcome as the next stepping stone.
For Williams, that typecasting has been like a red rag to a bull and he says: “I think it’s a bad mistake.
“They’ve bought me in to get beaten by this guy. He’s very good, he’s talented. He’s obviously big for the weight.
“The list goes on, really but I don’t think I’m the right guy for the job. I think you’ve bought in the wrong guy.
“I’ve trained my nuts off. I’m ready. If I’m not ready now, I never will be. I feel like I’ve turned back the clock a little bit and I’ve got the killer instinct back. I’m really digging in and want to be the best.
Williams was accused of being a “dirty fighter” by Chris Eubank Jr in the build-up to his unanimous decision defeat to the Brighton boxer in 2022.
— Boxing on TNT Sports (@boxingontnt) February 8, 2024
But he has since bounced back, picking up two victories over the relatively unknown Nizar Trimech and Florin Cardos.
“It’s an exciting fight, I’m really looking forward to it,” said Williams.
“It’s been a long time coming, being back in one of these big fights which everyone is excited and really interested to see.
“I believe I should have been back here sooner but these things happen. It’s not always straightforward, I’m just really happy and glad to be back on the big stage.”
“The pressure is on him, I’ve been there before, I’ve been in big fights before. People can say what they want, I know what I’ve got left in the tank.
“I’ve had a couple of ups and downs but it’s all part of the process. I think I’m going to stop the guy, 100 per cent. I fully plan to make a statement and take him out. I’m not taking any prisoners.”
Weigh-in Alert: Hamzah Sheeraz vs Liam Williams and undercard ready for battle in London. Photos and quotes from the fighters 💪🥊🇬🇧 @Queensberry
— Bible of Boxing (@ringmagazine) February 9, 2024
The 18-0-0 Sheeraz, who celebrated a second-round stoppage over Ukrainian Dmytro Mytrofanov in August, is looking to continue his impressive run against experienced Williams.
The Slough fighter insists he must get the job done at the Copper Box Arena if he is to continue his world title bid.
“It’s a must win for both of us,” Sheeraz said.
“I can’t afford to slip up. The sacrifices I’ve made are more than an average fighter would make. It would be disrespectful to my team if I slip up.
“My aspirations and plans are too big to be losing. It all comes down to how I can display my work in camp on fight night.
“I’ve done that for 18 fights and hopefully 19 will be on the way.
“This can give me endless opportunities. I can fight for a world title, I can fight for a British title, face the likes of Chris Eubank Jr.
“Once you get through a fight like this with flying colours then the doors are open.
“I want a good performance on February 10 and then I want a fight out in Saudi and to become well known out there.
“It’s probably the best time to be involved in boxing. Especially with the money in it, the promoters working together, the platform, it’s all at its peak.”
Watch as Hamzah Sheeraz and Liam Williams weigh-in and face-off for one last time 🔥
With special guest @NathanHeaney 🎤
— Boxing on TNT Sports (@boxingontnt) February 9, 2024
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