THE hostility between Liverpool’s Liam Smith and Liam Williams had simmered since their first, controversial contest in Manchester in April. Back then, after racing ahead on the scorecards Williams lost after he suffered a cut. They met for a rematch in Newcastle on Saturday to finally decide the issue.
The two fighters began warily, jabbing and circling one another. But they began to unleash power shots. Smith threw in combination as Williams cracked him with an excellent right uppercut and lined up a long right cross.
Smith applied solid jabs in the fourth round and continued to work diligently. Smith was controlling himself and letting his right slant straight down to the target. But Williams smacked in a hard right hook and fired explosive, dangerous punches after it.
Smith began to open up in the sixth, sending a right hook through to the body. He moved round Williams and lashed shots to the head too.
Williams countered with his right and moved off. His backhand hit in again, striking home just before Smith could land his. But the Liverpudlian was finishing the rounds with a smile on his face, content with how matters were proceeding.
The Welshman settled in the ninth round, his jab connecting. His trainer Gary Lockett sent him out for the 10th round with instructions that he needed to win the last three. He tapped in his jab and fired excellent hooks off either hand.
But Smith finished the 11th on the front foot, forcing Williams to give ground after he threw a right cross then a left hook to the body.
In the last round Smith waded forward, putting together his punches. Williams flicked his left through. Smith answered his attacks on the inside and remained controlled, finishing well.
This bout was an eliminator for the WBO super-welterweight title. One judge had them level 114-114 but the other two scored 116-112 and 117-111 for Liam Smith.
“I knew what Liam Williams did very well,” Smith reflected. “When I got my own jab going and moved my legs it nullified what Liam does very well.
“I didn’t like the way the last fight panned out and I got all the blame… But I have respect for him as a fighter, I’ve always had respect for him.”