.The fight week formalities are almost complete and middleweight bangers Hamzah Sheeraz and Liam Williams are set to settle matters in the ring. For the latest fight odds, visit our sportsbook.
Sheeraz (18-0, 14 KO’s) has done everything asked of him so far. He has moved smoothly through the levels, improving with each outing and is on he verge of breaking into world class. Williams (25-4-1, 20 KO’s) has been there before. He has fallen short but has set his mind on getting back to the top and finally claiming the world title that has evaded him so far.
Let’s have a look at the two fighters and see how they match up in a few key areas.
On the face of it this is hard to judge because both fighters are so different. Sheeraz stands 6ft 3in tall, is rangy, slim but can punch at any range. Williams is a solid, classic middleweight who likes to close the distance and attack with ferocity when he gets close.
Sheeraz was earmarked as a future star from the very start of his career. He has moved smoothly through the levels. He did have one tricky night’s work when a motivated, determined Bradley Skeete boxed, moved and made the youngster chase him. Sheeraz eventually tracked him down and stopped him in nine rounds.
That fight was Sheeraz’s last at super welterweight and he has been a different animal since moving to 160lbs. He can obviously box at long range behind his jab but he trains at the Ten Goose Gym in Los Angeles and grows more and more comfortable at close quarters with every fight.
Williams has boxed at a higher level through his career and only been found wanting in true world class. He is at his best when he can get into punching range and attack with combinations. He is an accurate puncher with fast hands and an ice cold finisher if he gets his man hurt. Williams showed he can be effective against taller fighters when he blew away the 6ft 4in tall Alantez Fox in 2019. But are his feet fast enough to get close these days?
14 of Sheeraz’s 18 victories have come inside the distance and he has finished every opponent he has faced at middleweight. He can punch from distance when he uses his long reach and sets up his power shots behind his jab. But working in Los Angeles has also sharpened his inside fighting skills, developing real power in his short punches.
Williams moved up to the middleweight division in 2017 and – as with Sheeraz – every fight he has won at the higher weight has been by stoppage or knockout. Some of those finishes have been brutal. He can punch with power and accuracy and his ferocity and aggression can make fighters fight cautiously and second guess themselves. If Williams hurts you, he is very likely to finish you whether that is with one clean shot or a fast combination.
24 year old Sheeraz has moved steadily through his career but has yet to progress beyond British level. He knocked out the capable but smaller Dmytro Mytrofanov in two rounds on the undercard on the unified heavyweight title fight between Oleksandr Usyk and Daniel Dubois last August but he seems to have benefitted the most from his time in Los Angeles.
The sparring is hard on the West Coast and Sheeraz will have had to fight hard and learn quickly to earn his respect. He has yet to face anybody approaching Williams’ calibre as a professional though.
Williams, 31, has boxed at the highest level. He gave Liam Smith all he could handle in a bad tempered WBO super welterweight title fight back in 2017 before he suffered a bad cut over his right eye and couldn’t continue. He lost a majority decision to the Liverpudlian a few months later.
Williams flew through the British middleweight division, proving far too good and powerful for domestic level fighters but just couldn’t apply consistent pressure to the excellent Demetrius Andrade in their WBO middleweight title fight in 2021 and lost a decision. He was then beaten by Chris Eubank Jnr in 2022 but was strangely out of sorts that night, being knocked down four times en route to a decision defeat.
As well as taking in to account the factors listed above, there are also intangibles and other people’s decisions to consider.
Contrary to popular belief, most fighters will generally fight anybody. As long as the wages are good, they will get into the ring. They are prizefighters after all. The people who guide them are the ones who plot and manoeuvre them through the rankings.
If Sheeraz’s people have agreed to fight Williams, then it is because they strongly fancy their fighter to win. They aren’t voluntarily throwing their fighter into what they see as a fifty-fifty contest at this stage of his career. He hasn’t boxed at this level before but Sheeraz is a short priced favourite at 1/5.
Williams is an intriguing case and a very dangerous opponent however. Yes, he has lost twice in the not too distant past but only to top level operators. If he is fit and ambitious, he could quite easily drag Sheeraz to places he’s never been before and then the younger man will need to prove he can survive there. Williams is priced at 7/2. If the Welshman is to repeat his fifth round stoppage of the gangly Alantez Fox, that is priced at 40/1.
The bet is for Sheeraz to have the boxing IQ and ability to raise his game and survive a couple of shaky moments. Williams will give it his all but if he can get past that long jab and right hand, he may well be surprised by Sheeraz’s inside fighting ability.
A decision victory could be the safe bet – that is priced at 3/1. If Sheeraz is to force a stoppage, it is likely to come in the second half of the fight. Group round betting shows that a Sheeraz win in rounds 7-9 is priced at 17/5.