Demetrius Andrade-Liam Williams: The war of words is almost over
“I’m not really into studying fighters, because at the end of the day, everything changes when you’re in there. He’s similar to a lot of people I’ve fought, because I’ve been fighting since I was six years old. There’s nothing I haven’t seen. He’s just not going to stop this train. At the end of the day, Liam Williams is the only person, right now, who’s brave enough and willing to say ‘Yes, I want to fight Demetrius Andrade.’”
Boo Boo’s disdain doesn’t faze the Welshman, as the pair prepare to lock horns on April 17 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida. Having only fought once in 2020, against Andrew Robinson, “The Machine” reflected on the adjustments he’s made as a result of Coronavirus. “I don’t have any right to complain more than anyone else because we’ve all been going through a bit of a shitty time in terms of the lockdowns and the pandemic. Boxing wise, life has had to go on as usual. I needed to be training regardless of fights being cancelled and dates being moved. If you’re not ready, that’s a fight lost.”
Defending his British middleweight title against Robinson, in a fight which lasted 88 seconds, provided temporary solace for the 28-year-old. “I was waiting for my chance for the world title against Andrade and things were dragging on, so it was very good to get back in the ring. However, let’s be honest, I didn’t learn anything from the fight. It lasted about a minute. I thought he was better than what he was. I thought he was going to give me some sort of challenge, but from the first 10 seconds of our fight, I knew it was going to be a total waste of time. The main thing for me, though, was that I had a good camp, stayed active and made championship weight.”
The Clydach Vale resident, who boasts a 23-2-1 (18 KOs) record, believes the move from 154 to 160 pounds has been a major benefit. “It’s definitely my weight and where I feel at my strongest, but I’ve also changed the way I’ve trained. I don’t do so much open sparring these days, I do more body sparring and only a couple of weeks of open sparring, whereas before I did open sparring all the way through. I could be six to eight weeks from a fight and I could spar 10 or 12 rounds and I’d be okay, then, the last two or three weeks I’d literally scrape myself through camp, when that should be my fittest point. Cutting down that much weight and going that low was taking that little bit too much from the bottom of the barrel. It got to the point where it was just too much for me.”
After the Robinson fight, Williams was in limbo, awaiting confirmation of his next outing. In the interim, he engaged in some social media sparring with Chris Eubank Jr., albeit the Welshman doesn’t hold the Sussex resident in high regard. “He talks a good game, but he talks a lot of shit, which I don’t like to hear. I think the man, personally, from my point of view, is a piece of shit. I don’t like him at all. He is a good fighter. He’s strong, he’s fit. I can’t knock him too much on that front, but I can’t stand his personality. I think we’d make a good fight. It would be tough, but I believe I can beat him. He talks so much, so why doesn’t he back it up?”
After Andrade’s one-sided contest against Luke Keeler in January 2020, the WBO made it clear that Williams had earned the right to challenge for the title and negotiations began. Then the pandemic struck. Williams recalled. “It’s so long ago, it seems like a distant memory now. This was a fight that should have happened around May or June 2020 and then it was possibly a bit later. Then later. Before you know it, the fight was off the cards because of the pandemic. I wanted to get that fight with Andrew Robinson, more than anything, to hold on to my British belt, which is my little bit of power to be able to pull a fight together in a short amount of time. Ever since Robinson I’ve been waiting patiently, well, very impatiently actually, until my time comes.
“As long as I stay active in terms of weight training, running and keeping active in the gym, I think, unless there’s a significant time like three or four years passing, I think then it can make a difference. Twelve or 13 months? For me, personally, I don’t think that would have a big effect on a fairly experienced fighter. I’ve had 13 months out of the ring before with a hand injury and came back straight into a British [junior middleweight] title fight and knocked the guy out in the second round with a jab. It was my best win up until that date.”
Williams gave his take on Andrade’s performance against Keeler. “It was an average performance. Without being disrespectful against Keeler, because he’s a nice fella, but he beat an average Luke Keeler. Andrade set upon him at the start of the fight, knocked him down heavily, then knocked him down a couple of more times. For someone of Andrade’s level, or the level he likes to put himself at, realistically, Keeler shouldn’t have got past two or three rounds, should he? I can assure you, if it was me against Keeler and I had him down that early in the fight, he probably wouldn’t have seen out the first round.”
Unbeaten as a middleweight, Williams believes this is his time. “I honestly think it’s the worst thing for Andrade to fight me now, rather than where he was 12 months ago, because I still believe I’m physically maturing and getting better in small doses in many departments as time goes on. I’m nearly at my peak now, I’m on a roll at the moment and it’s a bad time for him to fight me.
“He thinks I’m an easy fight. That’s fantastic! Good. I want him to think I’m an easy fight. I want him to come and overlook me because he’ll have the shock of his life. I’ll punch him from pillar to post. I’m looking forward to fighting in his country with all his fans and all his people watching. I’m going to punch the life out of him and will get the credit I deserve, going to his country and taking the title from the unbeaten three-time world champion. That works better for me.”
Williams reassured The Ring, despite the heated war of words on social media, it’s just business. “There’s beef in terms of boxing. We’re competitors who are going up against each other. Personally, I don’t know the fella, so I can’t say I have personal beef with him because I don’t know a great deal about him. From a distance, what I do know about him, if I have to describe him in one word, I’d say he’s a freak. A bit of a weirdo. He needs to take his clips and if he wants to come back after that, happy days. If not, maybe it’s time for him to retire. You’ve had a good run.”
Boasting an impressive amateur pedigree, the current WBO world middleweight titleholder is unbeaten in 29 contests, but as with many fighters, the pandemic put his future roadmap on hold. After the Keeler fight, Andrade was supposed to fight Dusty Hernandez-Harrison in November last year, but the Washington fighter tested positive for COVID-19. The 33-year-old Andrade explained his frustrations. “It was a last minute thing for me fighting Dusty Hernandez because I was trying to get a mandatory or Billy Joe Saunders. Williams was not my first choice. He took his opportunity to fight for a world title and said ‘yes’. The first guy I think was Jaime Munguia, but then his team said ‘no’, so next in line was Williams and he wants the shot no matter who it’s against. I’m happy he’s worked his hardest to get to where he is and for him to have his opportunity to fight the best, finally.
“My first choice was to try and make the Billy Joe Saunders fight at 168 pounds. I’m ready for whoever, that’s never the issue, but let’s be clear – we want to see Demetrius Andrade against Billy Joe. That’s what I was pushing for. We don’t want to see Demetrius Andrade against Liam Williams. He might have U.K. or European fans, but in the boxing world, it’s going to be more attractive if the mainstream fans see Billy Joe. I want to bring the most attractive fights for DAZN, for myself, for the middleweight division and for boxing. Liam Williams doesn’t bring that. Nobody really knows of him. Who has he fought?
“When Billy Joe got caught cheating for a positive drug test, when I was supposed to fight him, I fought the second guy in line, Walter Kautondokwa. Then I fought a guy who Billy Joe almost got beat by, Artur Akavov. Then I fought Maciej Sulecki, who Danny Jacobs had a hard time beating. Then I fought Luke Keeler. At the end of the day, whoever is willing to get in the ring with me, we’re going to fight. That’s it. I’ve never been in a position to pick and choose a fight. I don’t have that luxury.
“They did a good job by using my name for leverage to get the Canelo fight and they got it. I’m happy for them. At the end of the day, it’s prizefighting and whoever gets the shot, gets the shot. I’m not on Canelo’s bandwagon, wishing and praying we have a fight. If we fight, we fight, if we don’t, we don’t. The other fighters in the middleweight division and 168 pounds need to start fighting each other and that’s what I was trying to bring to the table, that spark, to get everybody to start fighting each other and stop worrying about Canelo. The Canelo versus Saunders fight is not something I care about right now. If Saunders loses against Canelo, he’s lost against another elite guy, so the fight with me and Billy Joe could still be organized. However, I don’t think if he loses he’ll want to fight me next. May the best man win and hopefully either one of them can progress to fight against Demetrius Andrade.”
Would fellow brit Eubank Jr. interest Andrade? “I don’t really think Chris Eubank Jr. brings the credibility I’m looking for to catapult my stock compared to the likes of Canelo and GGG. I don’t know where’s he’s at right now. He was supposed to fight Charlo, but it didn’t happen. He’s just some floating guy looking for an opportunity. Even a [Ryota] Murata or Munguia has a better name and would give more credibility than Eubank. If Eubank happens to become a champion and he’s in my weight division and there’s the opportunity for a unification, then of course I’ll fight him.”
Andrade signed off with bad intentions. “I’m going to give Williams a beating. When fighters get in the ring with me, they don’t ever bounce back. I take something out of them. Liam Williams is running his mouth like I’m nothing. They think they can just come in here and take what’s mine and that’s it. I’m 29-0, an Olympian, a three-time, two-divisional world champion. He’s going to get beaten and hit with stuff he’s never been hit with before. He’s not going to know what to do because he’s never fought anyone with my style. He’s going to have a rude awakening.”