Monday, January 30, 2023  |



Thomas Williams Jr.: ‘I’m definitely coming for Sergey Kovalev’


Although Sergey Kovalev will defend his WBO light heavyweight title against unbeaten prospect Blake Caparello on Saturday, the world’s premiere 175-pounder will have already competed elsewhere on Friday night, according to Thomas Williams Jr.

A resident of Washington, D.C., Williams (17-0, 12 knockouts) will be in pursuit of his third consecutive stoppage win against former titleholder Gabriel Campillo (23-6-1, 10 KOs) in Friday night’s clash of southpaws at The Little Creek Casino Resort, Shelton, Wash.

Then on Saturday, at The Revel Resort in Atlantic City, the 31-year-old Kovalev (24-0-1, 22 KOs) will be after his 13th knockout in 14 fights against left-hander Caparrello (19-0-1, 6 KOs).

“Sergey Kovalev, you know, I respect him,” said Williams, 26. “But you know that I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t call you out. So after this fight, I’m definitely coming for Sergey Kovalev.”

Williams said he believes that he is already better than Kovalev, who is 12-0-1 with 12 knockouts in his past 13 fights, including a fourth-round stoppage that dethroned previously unbeaten WBO beltholder Nathan Cleverly in August 2013.

“I don’t think that’s just a bold statement, I just think that it’s a fact. Of course I’m better,” said Williams. “I’m in a sport, he’s in my weight class, so why should I think any differently.”

Williams was last in action for a third-round knockout of Enrique Ornelas in April that followed a first-round stoppage of Cornelius White in January. Williams was floored once against White, who was dropped twice.

Williams’ victory over White came one fight after White had gone three rounds with Kovalev, who floored him three times in the final round of their fight in June 2013.

“Kovalev stopped Cornelius White in the third, and I stopped him in the first,” said Williams. “So that’s all I have to say about that. It is what it is.”

Meanwhile, Ornelas went the 12-round distance in unanimous decision losses to IBF/WBA beltholder Bernard Hopkins and former titleholder Beibut Shumenov.

“I know that every opponent is different,” said Williams. “But with my last opponent, Enrique Ornelas, Bernard Hopkins couldn’t knock him out, and Beibut Shumenov couldn’t knock him out, but I did.”

Campillo, 35, has lost three of his past five fights. During that time, Campillo has fallen by disputed split-decision to then-titleholder Tavoris Cloud, and by stoppage in the third and ninth rounds against Kovalev and Andrzej Fonfara.

“Kovalev stopped Campillo in the third round,” said Williams. “But I’m not going to make too much about that. I’m not going to say that I’m going to knock him out, but I will win.”

Campillo rebounded from the loss to Fonfara with a seventh-round knockout of Ricky Dennis Pow in his last fight in May. Williams was ringside when Campillo rose from two first-round knockdowns against Cloud, a fight Williams believes Campillo truly deserved to win.

“I was actually at that fight, because I fought on the undercard, and I thought that Campillo should have been called the IBF champion on that night,” said Williams, who unanimously decisioned Kentrell Claiborne on the Cloud-Campillo card in February 2012.

“I respect Campillo. He does a lot of things in there. He does a lot of movement and does a lot of boxing, and if you let him do that, he can do a lot. But my job is to neutralize what he’s doing, and then, I think that I will come out on top.”

Williams sees himself as a prospect no longer, but as the future of a division whose titleholders are Kovalev, the 49-year-old Hopkins, and RING and WBC champion Adonis Stevenson, who turns 37 in September.

“I don’t look at myself as a prospect. I passed the prospect stage…I think that I’m a world title contender right now,” said Williams, who has two daughters, Calauna, 8, and, Eden, 1. “All I want to do is to make my daughters proud. But I’m not looking past Friday. Of course, I want to establish myself as the best in the division,”