By Ian S Palmer
There’s a WBO junior middleweight eliminator at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle, England this Saturday, November 11th as Liam Smith takes on Liam Williams in a big British domestic clash and rematch. The two met in April with Smith winning after Williams couldn’t come out for the 10th round due to a bad cut on his right eyelid. Williams was up 86-85 on all three scorecards at the time of the stoppage. Smith is a former WBO World Champ. The 12-round bout between the two long-time rivals can be seen live in the UK on BoxNation.
Smith won the vacant WBO Junior Middleweight title against John Thompson via a seventh-round TKO in October of 2015 then defended it against fellow Brit Jimmy Kelly in the seventh round two months later. He then defended against Predrag Radosevic by a second-round stoppage in June of 2016. However, he lost the title three months later when Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez stopped him in the ninth round. Smith is also a former British Commonwealth Champion and became the first world champion to hail from Liverpool in 22 years.
The 29-year-old has an impressive record of 25-1-1 with 14 Kos and has also beaten the likes of Zoltan Sera and David Romero. His draw was a four-round affair with Terry Carruthers in 2010. Smith is on the short side for a super welterweight at just over 5-feet-9-inches tall and has an unlisted reach. Other than Alvarez, Smith has fought mainly domestic opponents since turning pro in 2008 and has 148 rounds under his belt since then. He’s got decent power in his fists and currently possesses a knockout ratio of 52 per cent.
Williams hails from Wales and is just 25 years old. His unbeaten streak was ended against Smith in April and he’s now 16-1-1 with 11 Kos and has boxed 84 rounds since turning pro back in 2011. Williams about an an inch taller than Smith at 5-foot-10 and also has an unlisted reach. The only other fight he hasn’t won was a third-round technical draw with Tyan Booth in December of 2013. Smith has pretty good power as well with a current knockout ratio of 61 per cent and had eight straight knockouts until meeting Smith.
But Williams, like Smith, has taken on mainly domestic and Grade B and C opponents up to now even if he has been the British, Commonwealth and European Champion. Smith certainly has the edge in experience over Williams by going nine rounds with Canelo Alvarez, so it can actually be safe to say that Williams is stepping up in class again against Smith on Saturday. Neither boxer is elite or world class at the moment, but are two solid pros with world title ambitions.
Smith failed to make the weight in their first meeting, which was for the WBO Interim Title, leaving Williams as the only one with the chance to win it. Williams fought well and was deservedly ahead on points at the time of the stoppage due to his determined effort. He’s anxious to prove it was no fluke and to avenge the loss. However, Smith should be better prepared for him this time around and will know exactly what to expect.
Smith is a pressure fighter while Williams has the better boxing skills here. Like most big domestic tilts this one is 50-50. The first bout was highly competitive, close and controversial and this one should be quite similar. If Smith can’t beat Williams though his hopes of more big-money fights against top-level opponents will diminish. He’ll need to be at his best to beat Williams again and has to get off to a better start than he did in April. This is another tossup, but I’m going to give Smith the benefit of the doubt once again.