WELSH light-middle star Liam Williams knows that big things await if he can shine in the homecoming defence of his British and Commonwealth belts against Wembley wildman Gary Corcoran at Cardiff Ice Arena on July 16, writes Glynn Evans.
With the challenger rated fifth with the WBO and Williams listed at 13 by the same organisation, the salivating showdown has an extra incentive for the fierce rivals.
“We’ve both got high rankings with the WBO and both know that the winner of this fight is likely to push on to big things quite soon, early 2017 or possibly even later this year. It could even be next,” says Williams who, like Corcoran, is undefeated in 15 fights.
The 5ft 10in Rhondda hard man will be making a first defence of the British title he collected by wasting Paisley’s Kris Carslaw in just 190 seconds last December, and a second defence of the Commonwealth strap he earned by obliterating Chingford’s Michael Lomax 22 seconds quicker.
“Earning a Lonsdale Belt outright is a good achievement but I’d not let it hold me back if I was offered a European or world title fight,” claims the mallet-fisted boxer who has stopped six straight.
“After I destroy Corcoran, there’s plenty of other worthy contenders to my belts such as Danny Butler, Jimmy Kelly, Nav [Mansouri], and Ahmet Patterson. I’ve no issue fighting any of those because I believe I’m better than all of them. I’m happy to face whoever the fans think will give them an exciting fight. Patterson and Kelly are probably the two who stand out and I rate both.
“If I’m honest, I’ve not seen much of [reigning European king] Cedric Vitu. I tend not to waste time looking at other fighters until matches are actually made but I’d love that belt.”
Still only 24, the pride of Clydach Vale has plenty of time to fulfil his dream of world domination. However, a brace of surgeries to re-construct his nuclear right hand – which brought 13 months dormancy in 2014-15 – has alerted him that he might not enjoy the longest of careers.
“The hand doesn’t look too clever but it’s manageable,” he concedes. “Obviously I need to take great care to bandage it thoroughly for training and sparring. After a particularly hard session, I’ll bathe it in ice and do some hand stretches. It’s fine at the moment and doesn’t affect my mindset at all. I don’t consciously try to finish fights quicker and I’m not cautious about throwing it either.
“I didn’t need to take much of a break after my last fight four weeks ago [a routine three round demolition on Argentine import Gustavo Sanchez] but, as my fights become harder, I’ll probably require longer rests between fights. Realistically, it probably will shorten my career slightly so I better get a move on.”
First Williams must hurdle dangerman Corcoran and he’ll certainly not struggle for motivation. The pair have engaged in a Twitter war and came perilously close to fisticuffs at a prickly press conference in Cardiff recently. Add the incentive of showcasing his wares before a Welsh audience for the first time in almost three years, plus the responsibility of providing the best possible future for daughter Myla who arrived in February, and you’re left with a maniac on a mission.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been more up for it,” he concedes.
And while manager-trainer Gary Lockett – one of the most astute rising fight faces in Britain – will pull tightly on the reins as Williams completes his ring education, the clamour for world title action could prove irresistible if the Welsh warlord dispatches Corcoran in the manner he is predicting.
Already he is eyeing the global champions.
“Though I expect Liam Smith will lose his WBO title against ‘Canelo’ [Alvarez] in America later this year, I expect him to surprise a few people and give a very good account of himself. ‘Canelo’ is very exciting but I’d love a crack at him,” he assesses.
“[WBA boss Erislandy] Lara’s not only a big, awkward southpaw but also a real quality technician, an outstanding champion.
“Both the [Charlo] twins are fantastic all round fighters and they’d both prove very tough fights for a world title challenge but with the right physical and mental preparation, they’re titles I could win and defend for a long time.
“If any single one of them was offered I’d accept immediately. A world title opportunity would mean so much to me.”