Pastures New: Liam Williams interview
In a candid interview with Shaun Brown, former British light middleweight champion Liam Williams speaks about parting from trainer Gary Lockett and adjusting to life in Sheffield at the Ingle Gym...
For the greater good.
For the benefit of his career.
But in leaving Wales for Sheffield Liam Williams (17-2-1, 12 KOs) not only said goodbye to a trainer/manager but also a good friend in Gary Lockett.
There was no denying it was a wrench for the 26-year-old former British light middleweight champion to pack up his kit and depart for the Ingle Gym in the Steel City. And when Boxing Monthly spoke to the man from Clydach Vale, it was clear, even over the phone after a hard day’s work, that he was still coming to terms with the decision to break up a partnership that, from the outside looking in, looked unbreakable.
“If I said to you it was a piece of piss and I’m not bothered by it one bit I’d be lying, because I am. It’s hard,” said Williams.
“I didn’t want to upset Gary, I love Gary. It’s not just my relationship with Gary though. I know his wife, I know his children. He knows my daughter, my girlfriend, my parents. We were all quite close. It weren’t an easy move to make. I just had to dig my feet in and make a move because otherwise it was potentially going to affect my career.”
Williams is now getting to grips with life in Sheffield, working on what to add to his fighting craft under Dominic Ingle, and in doing so has to spend time with his partner and daughter via FaceTime. A secure support network has been robust throughout, however. His loved ones are behind him all the way.
“If it weren’t for certain people I wouldn’t have been able to make this move. My girlfriend and my family have all been supporting me, so it makes it all a bit easier knowing that everyone’s rooting for you.”
Had Williams been trained by someone else, and perhaps not had as close a bond as he did with Lockett, then a departure would have come sooner. The penny dropped for Williams when his appetite for destruction diminished somewhat during the build up to his rematch with Liam Smith last November in Newcastle.
The two Liams had waged war on one another seven months earlier when the Liverpudlian Liam would settle the first part of their bad-tempered rivalry, one which was not unlike Williams’ feud/fight with Londoner Gary Corcoran in 2016.
Smith v Williams 2 would be a cleaner affair, but the latter’s performance was a shadow of what we witnessed in Manchester. The former WBO 154lbs world champion would emerge a thoroughly deserved victor with a majority decision verdict, rather than tied to the controversy after their first fight ended with Williams being pulled out after suffering cuts to the right eye in round nine giving Smith the ‘bloody’ spoils.
Prior to Smith’s world title shot against new WBO champion Jaime Munguia, Williams was asked for his opinion on it in a press release issued by his management team at MTK Global. However, near the article’s conclusion Williams described how he was lacking in motivation for that return bout against Smith and that he didn’t really care enough. Boxing Monthly naturally asked him for his reasons.
“I weren’t motivated. It sounds wrong because they were my two biggest fights but to be totally honest with you I couldn’t give two fucks. I was fed up.
“Obviously, I was motivated in terms of I wanted to win the fight. But did I really have that drive that I should have had going into such a big fight? No, I didn’t. And that was just because I was fed up of doing what I was doing day in, day out. Things weren’t going great at that point. I say this to everyone: It weren’t Gary’s fault, he’s a great coach. It weren’t my fault, I was just fed up with my surroundings. Just bored. I weren’t excited to learn anything anymore. I weren’t excited to spar. I was just going to the gym, roughing it out for an hour and then going home.
“I lived just down the road though and some days I’d go home, and I wouldn’t be dedicated on my diet and stuff. For me, that’s when I had to change things because I’ve always been very dedicated. I would never cheat on my training. I’ve always been very hard working, as in terms of in the gym and in my running. For me to go and start cheating on my diet and be like ‘I’ll be alright, I’ll be fine’ – I was just trying to tell myself I’ll be okay but deep down I knew it weren’t the right thing. I could’ve carried on making it easy for myself, but I knew that’s not the way forward, so I had to make moves for myself.”
A chapter that brought Williams titles and accolades such as the Boxing Writers’ Club 2016 Young Boxer of the Year is now over. He’s reaching for a new level of success, of performance, and one that he sees on the horizon thanks to the work being put together with Dominic Ingle and the time spent with world class gym-mates like Billy Joe Saunders and Kell Brook, as well as rising stars Jason Quigley, Kid Galahad and Willy Hutchinson.
“Every time I walk in I’m inspired,” he said.
Williams first fight with Ingle will be an eight rounder on 7 September at Cardiff’s Vale Sports Arena as part of an MTK promotion. From there the likelihood is that a bout with domestic rival James 'JJ' Metcalf will take place, potentially in November, for Metcalf’s WBC International light middleweight strap.
“Obviously, a good fighter,” Williams said of the (18-0, 10 KOs) Metcalf.
“You don’t build up a good record like he’s got. He’s 18-0? You don’t build that up from nowhere. I know you can be managed well and guided the right way, but you don’t just beat 18 people, one or two decent names to go with it just from being average. I think I’ll just have that little bit too much for him in every department. I think that’s obviously my next big fight and that’s where I’ll show people that I’m above that level and ready to push on.”