THERE’S more than the British middleweight title at stake when Liam Williams defends against mandatory challenger Andrew Robinson at the BT Sport Studio in Stratford on Saturday night (October 10). Williams goes into the fight as the mandatory for WBO champion Demetrius Andrade. Rather than wait for that, the 28-year-old Welshman, who’s had six straight stoppages, has decided to go through with his defence against granite-tough Midlander Robinson.
At 36 years and four days old, Robinson will be bidding to become the oldest to win the British middleweight title since Howard Eastman captured the vacant belt by knocking out Richard Williams in December 2006, seven days after his 36th birthday.
Robinson has had to wait for his shot. The Board made him Williams’ mandatory after he came back from Poland last April with a points win over Damian Jonak. The Pole had compiled a 41-0-1 record without boxing near genuine world class, but still, nobody expected Robinson to beat him. He isn’t expected to beat Williams either.
Liam said when the fight was first mooted that he feared he would hurt Robinson, comments that brought a fiery response. “He says he doesn’t want to hurt me,” said Robinson, from Birmingham and now domiciled in Redditch. “I’ve spent a large part of my career at super-middleweight and he’s coming up from super-welterweight. How’s he going to hurt me? I’m from the street.”
Robinson has a past he isn’t proud of. He took up boxing at 22 to escape the streets, turned pro at 27 and BoxNation viewers may remember him picking up a grotesquely swollen ear against journeyman Dan Blackwell in a four-rounder in Wolverhampton six years ago. Robinson only just nicked the decision and as it’s turned out, he is better suited to longer distances. He says his mentality is: “I will get you in the end.”
He has lost four times – there was a close shave with Nicky Jenman (20-9-1) as well – and every defeat was competitive. Robinson got up from a heavy knockdown to finish strongly against Frank Buglioni (14-1) in a 10-rounder, and points losses to Sam Sheedy (16-1) and Lee Markham (16-3-1) over the same distance were close.
Significantly perhaps, three of Robinson’s four losses came when he had to make 160lbs. Though every opponent has been able to hit Robinson cleanly, only Mark Heffron has stopped him, in six rounds in June 2018, after Robinson had some of the steam taken out of him by low blows.
Heffron is a common opponent, having been picked apart in 10 by Williams for the vacant British title, and he predicts a straightforward win for the champion. He said: “Liam will blitz him. I can see it being over in three or four rounds. Robinson is easy to hit and Williams has a good variety of punches. Liam is levels and levels above him.”
Perhaps Williams (22-2-1) will set about Robinson the same way he set about Karim Achour (27-5-3) and Alantez Fox (26-1-1). Achour, never stopped in 35 previous fights and known as a stubborn competitor, was halted in two, and last time out, Fox was rescued in the fifth. Fox was a freakishly tall 6ft 4ins, but still, Williams was able to outjab him and every time Liam connected flush, the American felt it to the soles of his boots.
At 6ft, Robinson (24-4-1) has a two-inch height advantage over Williams. However, skill-wise, he doesn’t come near the compact and robust champion, who has been beaten only by former world titlist Liam Smith (twice in 2017) – both at 154lbs (where Williams reigned as British and Commonwealth champ).
Williams won’t want Robinson to grow into the fight, but the stiff and hittable challenger will take some shifting and Williams may have to wait until the ninth round for the stoppage.
Also on the show is a 10-round clash of Daniel Dubois victims. Nantwich’s Nathan Gorman (16-1) and Ghanaian Richard Lartey (14-2) were each knocked out by the power-punching heavyweight in 2019. Lartey, who has fought outside of his hometown of Accra on only two occasions, can be dangerous with his wild hooks, so expect the patient and poised Gorman, 24, to box his way to a verdict victory.
Featuring further down the bill is a young, exciting prospect in Carstairs super-middleweight Willy Hutchinson (12-0).
The Verdict Williams looks to sharpen his tools before going for world glory.