Still No Interim WBO Jr Middleweight Champ
A fight booked between Liam Smith and Liam Williams was set to determine a new WBO interim junior middleweight champion. But after the bout ended due to unfortunate circumstances, the interim championship remained vacant.
Only Liam Williams was able to win the title, as Smith weighed in about two pounds over the junior middleweight weight limit. Williams was ahead on the scorecard in the ninth round, when the bout was stopped because of a cut on his eyelid, with debate as to whether it was an accidental head collision or a punch that caused the cut, though it looked more like the former. With the matter officially ruled a punch, Smith earned the TKO win as a result, and because of that, the title is still vacant.
Smith, who lost the WBO world title in the weight class to Canelo Alvarez back in September, claims he would have stopped Williams in the later rounds anyway.
"I started well and I think Liam won next three and the cut bothered me, he got momentum and then I adjusted to what he was doing," Smith told ESPN. "I knew I was getting to him and it was a good decision by Gary Lockett because I would have stopped him the next round. I would have stopped him 100 per cent regardless [of the judges]."
Smith also claimed he was told he was only given an hour to lose the extra weight and declined because of the short time, but then later found out he would have been given two hours.
Williams seemed to get ahead early in the fight, utilizing his jab to mess up Smith’s range. In the third round, a cut developed over Smith’s right eye, and the former world champion was sloppy in the next round.
The cut became so bad that in the seventh round, a doctor had to look at the cut and decide whether or not Smith should continue. The doctor ended up deciding to let Smith fight on.
In the ninth, with the feeling he was behind on the scorecards (and he likely was), Smith began to unleash more hard and heavy hands. Then, in the ninth round, the really bad cut on Williams’ eyelid developed, and his trainer, Gary Lockett, pulled his fighter, claiming the cut would only get worse if he continued to fight.
"I did start to tire a little to be honest but in the ninth I felt OK again," said Williams. "I want to do it again, it will never be an easy fight because he’s a class fighter."
With Williams ahead on the scorecards when the fight was stopped in Smith’s favor, immediate calls for a re-match are likely.