Liam Williams ready to put injury nightmare behind him
Commonwealth super welterweight champion Liam Williams will return to the ring for the first time in 13 months, following hand surgery, when he faces Scotland's Kris Carslaw on Frank Warren's 'Christmas Cracker' card on December 19 at the Manchester Arena headed by Andy Lee and Billy Joe Saunders' WBO middleweight world title fight.
The all Celtic showdown will be a double championship affair with Carslaw challenging Wales' unbeaten Williams for his Commonwealth strap whilst the British title, vacated by recently anointed WBO champion Liam Smith, will also be on the line.
23-year-old Williams, trained by Gary Lockett at his gymnasium in Cardiff, picked up the Commonwealth title last November when he blitzed former Prizefighter winner and British title challenger Michael Lomax in a single round at the Hilton Hotel in London, improving his unbeaten record to (12-0-1, 7 KOs).
Despite his powerful display that night, Liam had been suffering from pain in his right hand for several months when a misplaced uppercut he threw against Yuri Pompilio on the Jurgen Brahmer-Enzo Maccarinelli world title card in Rostock, Germany, hit the shoulder of his opponent and broke his hand.
“I've had two operations on the hand previously and it came to a point where something had to be done because I couldn't punch any more,” explained Williams when he spoke to Boxing Monthly recently.
“That night against Pompilio some part of my knuckle on my right index finger dissolved and I had injections after the fight. My tendon had fused to the bone so every time that I landed a punch I was ripping tendon off the bone which, as you can imagine, was very painful!”
Whilst he was waiting for the first of his hand operations, and with a lengthy time out of the ring on the cards, Williams chose to take a day job with his dad as a roofer to fill the gap in his earnings.
“It's a tough way to make a living,” he said. “You don't want to be out in the open on a roof in bad weather but everyone needs more money so I went back to it for six months or so.
“I went to the gym and did my circuits and shadow boxed,” said Williams when asked how he kept fit during his downtime from the ring.
“I was still in good shape, as good as if I was fighting. It was frustrating watching my gym mates have fights but at one time or another every boxer will get an injury but I just hope that mine are done for a while!”
Paisley's experienced Kris Carslaw represents a tough challenge for Williams following his extended sabbatical from the ring. The 31-year-old gave Brian Rose a good argument in a contest for the British title back in 2012 and he has faced world rated Frenchman Michael Soro and unbeaten Polish fighter Damian Jonak, both on the road.
Williams told BM that he has prepared for the best Kris Carslaw possible but, as is often the case in boxing, it will come down to levels of ability on the night.
“He (Carslaw) missed out on the British title when Brian Rose beat him so he will be more determined than ever but the outcome will be the same,” said Liam
“I don't wanna blow smoke up my own arse but I think that I'm levels above him skill wise and I have got youth on my side too. I have had a good look at him and he's a decent fighter, a good all-rounder, but he does nothing spectacular. He has experience but that's it, I beat him in every other department.”
Should Williams beat Carslaw next month, thus adding the British title to his Commonwealth belt, the victory will go some way to recovering the loss of career momentum that his injured hand has caused. European champion Cedric Vito from France is one avenue of possibility for Williams should he prevail but he admitted he isn't looking too far into the future.
“One step at a time,” he said. “I want to get the British title and then move on but I'm only 23 so I have plenty of time ahead of me, there is no rush at all.”
Jimmy Kelly is one fighter that has been accused of rushing his career. The Manchester super welterweight is yet to contest a 12 round bout or face an opponent of note but has landed a surprise shot at WBO champion Liam Smith on the same December 19 bill but Williams, who had chased a fight with Smith when the Liverpudlian held the domestic strap, says that a world title fight is hard to turn down.
“I would have taken that fight (against Smith) 100 percent, you can't turn down a world title fight however they come. In an ideal world you would be good enough to move yourself into a position to fight for a world title but if it gets offered to you, you would be mad to turn that chance down in my opinion.”
Williams defeated Kelly when the pair met “years ago” as amateurs but hasn't seen enough of the 23-year-old Einsley Bingham trained fighter to gain a true measure of his ability in the pro ranks and his chances of causing a major shock next month.
“I think he (Kelly) will put up a decent fight for six rounds or so but I haven't seen enough of him to be sure. I think Liam will take his time early and then come on strong in the later rounds, that's his strength and if I was fighting him I would conserve my energy early and then fight with him when he wanted to fight.”
December 19 promises to be an exciting night for British boxing and with a hoard of fans travelling down the M6 from Scotland to support Carslaw and Williams having sold over 200 tickets to his followers from Wales, mixed in with Irish support for Andy Lee in the main event, the atmosphere promises to be special as well.
“It's a five and a half hour trip for my lot!” said Williams. “But I have loads of great supporters who travel all over to support me and with this fight being so close to Christmas it really makes you appreciate the fans even more.”