Welshman was mandatory challenger for the WBO title and recovered from a knockdown and a cut eye
Liam Williams lost his bid to become a world champion by a wide points margin but gained plaudits after recovering from being floored by Demetrius Andrade in the second round and suffering a cut to the eye in the fifth.
The Welshman insisted that he will “stay at world level” but on this night, the slippery American was too elusive and defended his crown with a unanimous victory on the judges’ cards.
“He was too tricky, but I took his best shots and knew I could keep going,” said Williams after the 116-111, 118-109 (twice) judges’ scores were called. Andrade thus retained his 160lbs crown for the fourth time.
The fight was always likely to be a bull-versus-matador contest. Williams’ modus operandi is to thresh in front of opponents, while Andrade has spent a career bouncing into range, landing powerful shots, then moving elusively around the ring.
Williams was outboxed by Andrade, but was never broken. Down in the second from a one-two — and only up at the count of nine — his right eye cut in the fifth, and behind on the scorecards, Williams never lost heart.
The 28-year-old from the Rhondda Valley then hurt Andrade in the ninth round and never stopped advancing on the champion, who showed signs of vulnerability throughout the fight, though the referee did allow too much grabbing and holding from the jack-in-the-box fighter.
“Helluva fighter, tough, strong,” Andrade said of his Welsh foe, having spoken to Williams at length in the ring afterwards. “I told him he will come back and be a world champion. He comes to fight and that’s the type of fight people want to see me in. That’s what we did. I showed out. I performed the way I needed to to get the W. My hat goes off to him.”
Williams took all of Andrade’s punches, including his uppercuts, and continued to march forwards, though unable to land cleanly with most of them as the champion ducked, weaved, danced and held.
“I know I’m tough, everyone else knows I’m tough,” Williams said. “When I went down I just thought I’ve been down taking a clean shot, I’ve taken the best shot he’s got and he didn’t keep me down, so I don’t have anything to fear.”
Andrade, who was coming off a pandemic-induced 15-month layoff, said he was not surprised Williams survived the knockdown despite being badly hurt.
“I already knew he was tough,” Andrade said. “Him getting back up, wanting some more work showed me that. He was tough. I wasn’t fighting anyone who was going to lay down if they get put down or get hit with hard shots. I got hit with some hard shots too. But at the end of the day we both showed we are tough fighters.
Andrade, undefeated in 30 fights, called on the other three champions in the division for a unification fight, favouring Gennady Golovkin but happy to fight Jermall Charlo or Ryota Murata.
“He’s a very good fighter,” said Williams. “He’s better than I thought to be honest. He’s more slippery than he looks on TV. I couldn’t get going and land my combinations and get my shots off. I hurt him a couple of times I feel but I couldn’t capitalise on it. I didn’t take too much of a step back. I believe I will stay at world level. He’s probably the best of the [middleweight] champions. I have to give him credit. I have to give him respect.”
In Saturday’s other high-profile boxing bout, the YouTuber Jake Paul beat the retired MMA star Ben Askren with a first-round knockout in Atlanta.This Article First Appeared On The Telegraph