Hamzah Sheeraz vs Liam Williams – Who wins?
Unbeaten middleweight sensation Hamzah Sheeraz (18-0, 14KOs) will get his chance to continue his rise through the 160lbs division, as his matchup against Welshman Liam Williams (25-4-1, 20KOs) finally takes place on February 10 at the Copper Box Arena.
The fight was originally scheduled for December, however, the undefeated prospect from Ilford suffered a perforated eardrum during a sparring session, forcing the bout to be postponed for two months. But now it finally arrives 70 days later and will headline Queensberry Promotions’ first event of the year.
Signed to Queensbury, Sheeraz has had a relatively routine ascent up the middleweight rankings, with a couple of acid tests along the way, most notably in the form of Bradley Skeete
The rising star is currently riding on a 12-fight KO streak and only four of those stoppages stretched past the midway mark, six coming in rounds one and two!
However, former British and Commonwealth champion Williams will be a serious step up in class for the Essex fighter, spending years on the fringe of world title glory, constantly faltering at the last hurdle.
Sheeraz has developed a fearsome reputation at middleweight, he has not been taken the distance since 2018, with seven of his 18 bouts failing to reach the end of the second round. His last three outings has seen him step up to 12-rounds championship contests, winning his WBC Silver belt in 2022 against Argentine, Francicso Emmanuel Torres (TKO5), who had previously held Jose Benavidez to a draw; then the champ defended his new title against English title contender, River Wilson-Bent (TKO2); and his last fight and second defence was to unbeaten Ukrainian, Dmytro Mytrofanov (TKO2), in August.
Frank Warren’s protege was voted by the UK Boxing Writer’s Club as their 2022 Young Fighter of the Year, an award that has seen 28 rise to the very top of the boxing world, with British and world greats such as Amir Khan, Naseem Hamed, Nigel Benn and Joe Clazaghe all winning the promising accolade in the past.
The Englishman possesses a snappy jab, allowing him to set up shots while subduing any oncoming danger his opponents try to present; his ability to download data to quickly find weaknesses to exploit, to then tear apart opponents was perhaps best showcased in his most recent outing against Ukrainian, Mytrofanov.
Mytrofanov fell victim to the 24-year-old’s stiff jab right from the get-go and he immediately found himself outclassed, being picked to pieces by the British hopeful and ultimately surviving less than four minutes before the ref waved the fight off.
In the other corner, 31-year-old Williams has shared the ring with many of boxing’s elite, suffering two losses in 2022, firstly to Demetrius Andrade in a WBO title bout, and shortly after falling victim to the same fate against Chris Eubank Jr. in a fight that showcased ‘The Machine’s’ unwavering heart, getting knocked down four times yet still winning rounds all the way through to hear the final bell. It was a terrible start for Williams, but he rallied back in the second half only to finish the fight the same way it started.
Coming off the back of his loss to Eubank, the Clydach-born boxer has found himself back in winning form, chalking up two early stoppages over the last 14 months in rebuilding fights with foreign journeymen.
Signed long-term to Frank Warren, Williams will be hoping he can grab the opportunity with two hands and reclaim the WBC Silver title he once held in 2019, after stopping Frenchman Karim Achour in the second round.
Many forget that the Welshman is a dangerous puncher, his best weapon perhaps being a devastating right hand, the same one he utilised in a phenomenal knockout win over Florin Cardos in November.
However, it would be unfair to paint ‘The Machine’ as a one-trick pony, having boxed since the age of nine. It is less so a specific tool in his toolkit that makes him so dangerous, but rather his ability to produce power from a variety of shots, and ultimately end a fight in any way he sees fit, either through a barrage of power punches, or debilitating shots to the body.
Both fighters are currently ranked in the top 10 by the WBC, WBO and IBO. For Williams, a win could keep his world title dreams alive in a division that is wide open with four reigning world champions – Jermall Charlo (WBC); Carlos Adames (WBC Interim); Erislandy Lara (WBA); Janibek Alimkhanuly (IBF & WBO); Etinosa Oliha (IBO).
Meanwhile, hot young prospect Sheeraz will be looking to firmly put his foot in the door, with a win over his most credible opponent yet putting him in with a real shot at the WBC green and gold belt.
‘Mohammed Sheeraz’ has expressed interest in a fight with the current WBO #1, Chris Eubank Jr., who is also two places above him in the WBC world rankings at #2.
It’s unlikely for Eubank to consider Sheeraz as an opponent whrn he is looking up at champion Janibek Alimkhanuly, however Sheeraz can elevate his position in the meantime to force a world title eliminator in the latter part of 2024, providing he gets through his sternest career test with Williams.
Despite the step up in class, I feel that Hamzah Sheeraz has more than enough in his locker to taint his fellow Briton’s record with yet another red mark.
Sheeraz has developed a powerful jab, and far the taller of the two, will likely utilise his powerful lead left from the outset, keeping his ageing opponent at bay, and only engaging with Williams when an opening is made clear.
Williams does possess significant punching power, with 80% of his wins coming by way of stoppage, though his 24-year-old opponent will be tricky to corner and unload on due to a discipline and smart shot selection rarely seen in a fighter of his age.
I believe that Williams’ best shot at victory will be to try and overwhelm his younger opponent when he is looking for a breather. Shareez’s biggest flaw is his tendency to shell up and become a somewhat stationary target when he appears to need a rest or perhaps a bit disrespectful of his opponents’ power. If Williams can pounce on this bad habit and unload in bunches, like Liam Smith did against Chris Eubank Jr., we could be in for a far longer night than I expect to see in February.
Nevertheless, while Williams has only been stopped once in his career, I think Sheeraz will put the pressure on him early with solid combinations and ultimately break down the Welshman, leading to a stoppage in the second half of the fight. Williams is a tough cookie and an experienced operator, so he could prove difficult in the opening sections of the contest.