The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy – Martin Luther King, Jr.
In this instance, the challenge will take place in Newcastle tomorrow night in the rematch between rivals Liam Williams and Liam Smith, whilst the controversy sparks from their prior engagement after a headbutt, lacerated the eyelid of the Welshman, halting the contest prematurely due to impaired vision.
It left a bitter taste in the mouth especially from a Welsh perspective, Williams at the time of the stoppage was up on each of the scorecards having gained a foothold in the earlier rounds whilst a resurgent Smith in an act of turning the tide applied pressure late on, meaning the remaining rounds would have been fascinating viewing.
So it was with a feeling of deflation that followed from the boxing community, the fall out of which have been felt and carried over for the months that followed.
So the rematch was a natural next move for both men with a shot at the WBO title lingering attractively in the background.
Smith, unlike last time, has come into the fight on weight, looking like a fighter hell-bent on proving that his preceding performance was a “Bad day at the Office” whether that was the case or the fact that Williams was better than he had anticipated is up for debate.
Williams on the night showed his plethora of boxing skill as he looked the quicker/stronger and more defensively sound of the two men, taking advantage of a plodding Smith who walked forward with a high guard and little else early in the contest.
Heads, elbows, and forearms came into play thereafter, like two rams rutting, Smith sported a nasty cut over his right eye early in the contest courtesy of a combination whilst Williams’ face also started to show the effects of an engaging war of attrition.
Entering the ninth with a numerical advantage Williams due to the pace/effort he had already administered into the contest was looking jaded whilst Smith was starting to grow in confidence.
It was a case of last chance saloon for Smith, throwing everything at Williams in the hope that something stuck, unfortunately for the Welsh contingency something did, it was the head of Smith to the right eye of Williams, an act which lacerated the eyelid, giving trainer Gary Lockett no option but to call time on his fighters title eliminator.
Suggestions that it was accidental, were far-fetched as Smith himself almost confessed to such in his final press conference when asked “Was the Headbutt in the first fight deliberate? answering with “If you keep doing something to me, expect it back”
In retrospect, referee Terry O’Connor should have called the headbutt at the time, allowing the result to go to the judges scorecards or at the very least call the ringside physician to give his opinion, instead he allowed the decision to be taken out of his hands by Williams’ corner bringing the aforementioned controversy that will follow the bout in the hope we get a more satisfactory verdict on Saturday night.
It’s has become a case of Repeat or Revenge? Will Williams take confidence in knowing he had Smith beat in their first encounter? Does Smith believe he had an off night which will be corrected this time around?
I know I will get comments asking for my prediction so I’m preempting the process but before continuing I would at this point ask that you forgive my bias, for It is only natural for me to support my fellow Welshman, as I try to put my rose-tinted glasses to one side.
I’ve always believed that Williams is the better boxer of the two, this time with an emphasis on controlling the pace of the fight I see Williams using movement with his quicker hand speed to offset the straight lines in which Smith attacks.
Smith will do what Smith does best, he will come forward, exert pressure in the hope of drowning Williams in the later rounds.
Look for him to cut off the ring in the hope of getting inside to land his body shots but this time I fear for his team that he will find a much stubborn fighter in front of him.
Williams operates best when he’s up against it, he’s heard the comments, the naysayers in the run-up to the fight, staying for the most part composed, quietly confident that on a cold night in Newcastle, on what will undoubtedly be a firefight he will emerge from the flames the victor as revenge is a dish best served cold.
Did I hear someone say Trilogy?
Photo Credit: Craig Brough – Action Images