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Boxing: In the Corner with Adam Booth

Adam Booth has described Liam Williams as a one of the most ‘underrated middleweights at world level’ and a ‘nightmare’ for anyone in the division as he prepares for his eagerly-anticipated fight with Chris Eubank Jr on 5th February.

Speaking to Johnny Nelson for bet365’s In the Corner about Eubank Jr v Williams as well as his time with David Haye, Booth gave a resounding yes when asked whether Williams can follow in the footsteps of former middleweight champion Andy Lee.

“Absolutely,” said Booth. “I’m only interested in world championships and winning and if I don’t have belief in them as fighters, it’s not worth starting the project.

“I’ve known of Liam for a few years now and I think he’s one of the most underrated middleweights at world level, but I can already see elements that I’m just trying to encourage out of him. It’s not like I’m trying to teach him something he can’t already do. I think his IQ is vastly underrated, and people don’t realise how strong he is either.

“I know what it is to work with cruiserweight, heavyweight, super-middleweight, middleweight world champions, and when I look at the elements Liam’s got in him, absolutely I see world championship level.”

Despite having spent time as Eubank Jr’s cornerman, Booth denies it had any bearing on his decision to work with Williams.

“We had a brief spell together and the preparation for the Spike O’Sullivan fight was good,” said Booth. “I’ve known of Junior from way before then because he probably sparred with [George] Groves 40 or 50 times in the gym before I actually started working with him, so I’ve known of Chris for a long time.

“I said from day one I think he’s a great fighter. He’s got huge elements in him and I think he’s starting to fulfil those. It makes for a great fight.

“The only thing I had to consider was my relationship with Harlem Eubank who I manage and coach. Harlem and I are very close so when I was approached by Liam’s management, it certainly piqued my interest because I do rate Liam highly as a fighter, but that couldn’t go any further until I’d had a chat with Harlem, because of he’d have said he was uncomfortable with it, I wouldn’t have done it.

“But I’ve got a hell of a lot of respect for Harlem as a young man, and we talked for about an hour, we really shot from the hip and he said as long as we train at different times, I’m not compromised and that was fantastic.”

Nelson suggested that it often takes fighters two or three bouts to get fully accustomed to Booth and the message he’s trying to get across, but the trainer said he’s only looking to make minor tweaks to Williams.

“It depends on what you’re trying to achieve,” said Booth. “But Liam is an established championship-level fighter. If I try and deconstruct anything now it’ll throw him out of whack.

“Because we’re working together for a couple of months, I’m more of a hired gun in terms of getting him ready for this fight, one who has some knowledge of the guy he’s fighting.

“Once I got a read of how Liam and I were working and talking and understanding each other, it was just a case of polishing elements that are already in him, and encouraging stuff he can already do. Conditioning him, getting an understanding of how to go about the job and that’s it. It’s not that I’m putting anything new in him that he can’t already do.

“Every fighter has strengths and weakness, and Liam’s strengths are frighteningly obvious. Any middleweight in the world – I include all of them – he’s a nightmare for. If he’s on form, fit and focussed and has a plan of what he’s going to do and applies himself the right way, he’s a nightmare for any of them.

“Liam hits harder [than Eubank Jr]. Junior throws incredible combinations and when he gets you in position to let his hands go he’s one of the best in the world. He reminds me of a middleweight version of Aaron Pryor, how he just let them hands go with fearlessness and he whips in the uppercut.

“It’s not the first, second or third shot, that causes the problem. It’s the fourth one that will sting you and stun you, and that’ what Junior has perfected, that’s his game. He’s got speed and quickness – and there’s a difference between the two – and he applies both for his onslaughts. But if we’re solely talking about one-punch power, that certainly favours Liam.”

Booth made his name as a trainer working with David Haye as he became cruiserweight and heavyweight world champion, and recalls how he progressed as a coach while in the Hayemaker’s corner.

“We had the highest of highs and the lowest of lows,” said Booth. “As a young coach I learned a lot through that period of time, that not every day is going to be great in the gym, sparring is sparring, fighting is completely different, training is 90% physical, fighting is 90% mental. Not everyone’s made for it.

“If you gave David a choice of fighting 10 days in a row, or training 10 days, he’d take the fighting. He loved fighting and hated training. In the changing rooms before a fight in his prime, and he fought people like Mormeck and Maccarinelli, the sense he gave me was ‘this fella is something special’, and he was.”

Booth was also in the corner when Haye fought Derek Chisora, after a press conference which saw the pair come to blows, and Booth says the challenge was in the preparation for that fight was more mental than physical.

“David’s very shrewd and very intelligent,” said Booth. “So he was always going to be able to deal with that and I separate myself. Whatever goes on, when the bells rings, that’s all that matters.

“For that fight, the biggest challenge was the physical and emotional challenge that Derek can put on anyone and because David was a natural cruiserweight, it was drilling him emotionally to be able to cope with the pressure up close and shut it down. So the biggest challenge was conserving energy and using it at the right time.”

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