After a second postponement, the long-awaited fight between Chris Eubank Jr and Liam Williams finally looks set to go ahead of 5th February, and Williams told bet365’s Tale of the Tape that the feud between the pair is very real.
“I don’t like him. I didn’t really know him until I went to spar with him and George Groves at David Haye’s gym, it must have been 10 years ago,” said Williams.
“He was there, he walks in, doesn’t talk to anyone, wraps up, didn’t have any interaction with anyone, he didn’t even say hello and before we even spar I thought ‘this guy’s a bit of a d***’.
“Sparring is actually quite friendly, you’re giving each some good work and helping each other out.
“But we sparred and we’re doing round in, round out with George, and we’re on the inside and I’m kind of roughing him up, putting the elbow in his face, giving him a bit of the head and he turned around and goes to Adam ‘f*** me, what’s this, UFC?’ Really throwing his toys out of the pram.
“I’m thinking it’s a fight, do you know what I mean? I know it’s slightly more friendly in sparring, but it’s a fight and we’re training for a fight so don’t be bitching about a forearm in the face, which goes to show he’s been wrapped in cotton wool.
“He is a very tough guy now but through his childhood he’s been wrapped up and we’ll see how that works out.
“One thing’s for sure he’ll be getting the same treatment. I’m certainly going to be roughing him up. I’m going to be headbutting him, elbowing him, hitting him low, I’ll play every dirty card in the book.”
After being trained by Dominic Ingle at the Wincobank Gym in Sheffield, Williams made the switch to Adam Booth in November.
Booth, who made his name as David Haye’s cornerman before guiding George Groves and Andy Lee to world titles, also coached Eubank Jr for a spell, but Williams denies that was the motivation for making the move.
“I’ve been made to feel welcome,” said Williams. “Me and Adam have gelled really well, it’s a good place to be, everyone’s buzzing and really friendly. I think having Adam in my corner, listening to what he says and how he goes about his business, he’s a very, very good coach. I’ve always rated him highly but he’s even better than what I’ve given him credit for.
“I thought Adam could give me a couple of inside tips on things Eubank does positively and things he doesn’t do so well, but that doesn’t really matter to me. It didn’t sway me in me in my decision, I came with Adam because I thought he was a fantastic coach, that’s all there was to it. There was nothing about mind games, but I do think that may have an impact on him, so that’ll be interesting.”
Having worked with both fighters, Booth says the Welshman is the harder puncher of the two, but despite that, and the animosity between the pair, Williams isn’t planning for an early stoppage.
“I’m not going to go in there and plan to knock him out,” said Williams. “Don’t get me wrong if it comes, I’m ready to go for it, but I’m going to be ready for the 12. I’m not going to plan to blast him out in six and then when that doesn’t happen, run out of ideas and start panicking.
“I’m training for 12 because he’s a very tough guy, he’s very fit, always in great physical condition, but I believe I’ve got too much boxing experience and IQ for him.”
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Williams comes into the fight with Eubank Jr on the back of a loss to Demetrious Andrade last April, and believes the American represented a tougher prospect than the former IBO super-middleweight world champion.
“I think Demetrious Andrade is my best opponent on paper,” said Williams. “He’s a three-time world champion, and no disrespect, but Eubank Jr’s IBO ‘world champion’… again, no disrespect, but you can keep your IBO belts, I’m not interested, I’d rather not pay the sanctioning fee for them.
“I don’t rate his power. He’s got decent power, but that’s about it. His biggest strength is how he puts his shots together, he throws punches in bunches, he puts them together well. He’s more speed over power.”
Despite a decorated amateur career, which saw him win eight Welsh titles and six British titles, Williams admits that turning pro wasn’t a childhood ambition, and that he still finds it hard to believe how far he’s come as a professional.
“Sometimes you do pinch yourself,” said Williams. “It’s crazy because all them years ago when I was first turning pro I never thought I’d turn professional, then I had the opportunity so I thought okay let’s give it a go, it’s only one round more.
“I never once thought I was going to turn professional until about six months before I actually did. I was doing well as an amateur, but I never thought I’d become a champion but before you know it I’m fighting for a British title thinking ‘am I good enough for this?’ Then I go in and bang Kris Carslaw out in the second round – British and commonwealth champion!
“When I was turning pro I was watching Brian Rose and he was British champion then at light-middleweight which was my weight then and I used to think ‘I’ll never be good enough for that’. I’ve been known, not so much in recent years, but when I was younger, for playing myself down and doubting myself, but in recent years I’ve had more belief and thinking I’m actually good.”
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Looking forward to the week ahead