A familiar phrase that fighters often use during interviews is five words to shrug off something like disappointment or a setback: ‘It is what it is’.
Liam Williams has the line in his book of dialogue, but the Welshman does not express it with laziness or to shorten an answer to speed matters up. The 29-year-old sees it as a perfect summary of a situation that he has gotten over quickly, which is thanks to experiences he has overcome in the past when life has hit the wrong track.
In April, Williams fought Demetrius Andrade for the 33-year-old’s WBO middleweight crown. A championship that the American has never lost, a zero that also sits in the L column during his 13-year career. It was the first time Williams had challenged for world honours and the account he gave was good enough for onlookers to believe he can come again but on the night his best was handled by Andrade over the full 12 rounds.
“It’s old news,” Williams told Boxing Social recently. The first part of this answer was in response to whether the fight is now out of his system.
“It’s just come and gone. Why am I gonna keep beating myself over that when life goes on. It is what it is. I lost. It wasn’t my time but I’m confident that, with the comeback, I’ll make my way back to where I was, and I will win a world title.”
Williams doesn’t really pause for too long when giving an answer. What is on his mind must exit from a man who is comfortable with the truth and has already moved on from that night in Fort Lauderdale.
Distractions help, of course. It can be work around the house, a holiday, straight back into the gym or, in his case, the arrival of his second child. His first, now five-years-old, meant the late nights, nappy changes and feeding times were forgotten about until little Oscar arrived in May.
“I kinda forgot what it was like. It can be noisy and it’s tiring and stressful sometimes, but we’re doing well,” he said.
But it did prove to be a welcome diversion and helped leave the loss to Andrade back in America. Williams could then fly back home to Wales to help his partner in the final weeks of her pregnancy. Life has been about family since then, not boxing.
“Yeah, you’ve got a good point there. Exactly what you said. I haven’t really had too much time to think about it. My missus was due three to four weeks after the fight. I’ve had things to do, I’ve had life to get on with, so I’ve just been doing my thing. I’m obviously gutted I lost but I don’t really care about it, its old news, it doesn’t matter to me. The past is the past,” he said.
Williams’ boxing career will restart in November, he believes. That is when we could see the comeback start, the new trail he takes to become a middleweight world champion at the second time of asking. Not much thought has been given as to the who and where on whatever night it is, but he is not interested in a ‘knock-over job’. Williams rightly believes that he proved to be one of the world’s best 160lbs fighters against Andrade. His name now carries some weight across the world. And thanks to the current governing body rankings, which see him ranked No.5 with the WBC and No.7 with the WBO, big fights can happen for him in 2022.
“The main goal was to be world champion, it still is, but for the comeback I’m just taking it how it comes. See what they [Queensberry Promotions] offer me. I don’t want no knock-over job. I want a fight that’s a test. I honestly believe I’m a world class fighter and I need to be fighting, even if it’s not a world class opponent for the comeback, I want to be fighting someone at a good level.
“You never know, I could get a voluntary shot… you never know what’s round the corner. It is what it is. Things happen. It’s not the best thing to happen [losing a fight] but sometimes something good can come out of it. We’ll just have to wait and see. I’m still ranked well and I can get back there in no time. One more fight, two more fights I’ll be back.”
One look at Liam Williams would tell you that the profession he is in is not for the faint-hearted. He has the look of a man who knows how to look after himself and doesn’t suffer fools. An image, a demeanour that can be saved for the day job when he and his opponent are punching one another. The former British super-welterweight champion admits to being ‘soft’ when he is away from the boxing ring and was touched by the homecoming he received when he returned to Wales after the Andrade fight. His recollection of the event begins with a concussion and ice-cream.
“I didn’t know a thing about it. I was on my way home, and I wasn’t feeling too good because I had a concussion from the fight, and I was feeling a bit shitty, and I was feeling tired and couldn’t wait to get home and just chill really,” he said.
“I was eating everything around and I said to my missus shall I bring some ice cream home. There’s a place up by me called Sub-Zero and they do waffles and crêpes… I said ‘I’m going to go there’ and said ‘do you want me to bring some, home?’ and she says ‘Liam, hurry up and get home’.
“So, I said, ‘I’ll come back and go later on’ and obviously there was people waiting to speak [to me] and that’s why she was rushing. It was special to be honest. It was a good feeling to see all the people there for me. It was unbelievable. Such a good feeling. My missus, my little girl and my family there.”
Williams went on to say a lot of ice-cream has been eaten since.
Treating himself to edible luxuries does mean that gym life has returned. The routine of diet and training is part of the job but a shoulder injury, for which he went under the knife has prohibited him from doing any work. Phrases such as, “They had to grind some bone away” and “They had to chop away at some bone” are ones that only fighters can make sound like they had a little scrape after a minor fall. The problem was the result of wear and tear and reared its painful self just as the Andrade fight was getting made for Williams.
“It wasn’t really ever bad enough to put me out of the fight because when I was training every day, most of them days was twice a day,” Williams recalled. “I was staying active. It was feeling okay. It did take me a couple of rounds to get going. Bit of pain here and there. Overall, I was managing, it was okay. After I had my two weeks off the fight my shoulder seized up and I could hardly move it.”
When the time comes to return to the ring, the shoulder issue should be non-existent. Had the problem not been there would Williams still have been able to beat Andrade? To him, it doesn’t matter, and hindsight isn’t really worth bothering about, but his performance is still something to talk about and the world-rated middleweight is reasonably content with his efforts.
“Reasonably satisfied,” he said. “As a fighter, you look back and nothing will never be totally comfortable with what you’ve done, could have done this and done that. Hindsight is a great thing; you can always look back. I should have done this, and I would have won. I could have hit him with this or that. It’s all irrelevant really because once you’ve been there and had the opportunity, if you didn’t execute whatever it is you needed to do then it’s tough shit, it’s all gone.
“It’s in the past. I feel like I made a good account of myself. I could have done things better, certain things that could have put me in a better position but overall, I fought a top-class operator and he done what he had to do. He was skilful, very clever and fair play to him, I can’t take nothing away from him. He done everything asked of him and that’s why he’s a world champion and been unbeaten in so many years.
“He was better than what I thought,” Williams continued. “Very deceiving in what he does. He’s clever. You can’t pin him down. I always knew it was going to be a tough job for me. I genuinely believed I was going to pull it off and I could have but it just wasn’t my time. I’ve just turned 29. I’ve still got plenty in the tank.”
Main image: Michelle Farsi/Matchroom Boxing USA.