AFTER an injury-enforced absence of more than three months, the world’s No. 8 middleweight, Liam Williams, is ready to return to full training. The Welshman, who was unanimously outpointed by the No. 3-ranked Demetrius Andrade in April, underwent surgery in June to correct a problem with his shoulder. Following a period of recovery, he is now raring to go.

“I didn’t have the operation until eight weeks after the Andrade fight, and it’s been another five weeks since then,” Williams explained to Boxing News last Monday (July 19). “I’m off training for one more week, then I’m back at it. So I’ll have been out for 14 weeks in total by the time I start training.

“It’s always been a struggle for me when I’ve got nothing much to do with myself. Obviously I’ve had the new baby [Oscar, named after Oscar De La Hoya and born in May], so that’s been pretty demanding! And recently I’ve been doing a bit of shadowboxing and running here and there. But if I’m being totally honest, it’s all been hard work. With no date in sight and no specific fight to get myself fit for, I’ve been having a couple of good days and then I’ve been thinking, ‘You know what, I can’t be arsed.’ Then I’ve been having a couple of days being a bum. I’ve just been blowing hot and cold like that, so I’ll be glad to see the back of it all. I’m looking forward to really getting my teeth stuck into training again.”

Despite being soundly beaten by Andrade, the gallant Williams emerged from the contest with his reputation enhanced, having fought with grit and determination throughout. Although he was experiencing issues with his shoulder leading into the bout, the 29-year-old refuses to blame his defeat on this.

“The trouble with my shoulder began a good three months before the Andrade fight,” Williams revealed. “It wasn’t bad enough to stop me training, but I would struggle with it at times. Some days it’d take me three or four hours to get going in training. I’d have to do four rounds on the bag before I even sparred, just to warm my shoulder up. It was playing on my mind sometimes, so it was a bit difficult. But I can’t really use it as an excuse for the way the fight went. Andrade’s a very good fighter. He nullified what I was trying to do and made it hard for me. Who knows, things could’ve gone a little better for me if I hadn’t been carrying the injury, but I’d never really use it as an excuse.

“I definitely believe that Andrade’s one of the trickiest customers out there. I did what I could do basically, but it never worked. There are a couple of things that I could’ve done better, but overall I pretty much went in with a game plan to try to stick it on him. I think if I’d had a bit of a better start then things could’ve been different. Maybe the shoulder was the reason why I didn’t start well.

I was trying to warm it up in the changing room beforehand but it wasn’t firing 100 per cent. It took me three rounds to get going in the fight. I got dropped [in the second round] which obviously didn’t help, so I was playing catch-up before we’d even really got started.”

The clash with Andrade marked Williams’ debut appearance on US soil, with all but one of his previous matchups being held in the UK. With his five fights pre-Andrade being staged in England, the man from Clydach Vale has not competed in his home nation of Wales since September 2018. Performing in front of his Welsh countrymen once again is something that greatly appeals to the former two-weight British champion. “Fighting in America for the first time was a good experience, especially in a beautiful place like Florida,” the 23-3-1 (18) Williams said. “The fan situation was a bit disappointing, as there weren’t many people there [because of COVID restrictions]. Now that we’re hopefully coming out of the pandemic, I’m looking forward to having the big crowds back.

“I’d definitely love to have a homecoming fight. It’d be special fighting in Wales again. It’s a shame that I haven’t boxed there for around three years. I’m just waiting at the moment and seeing what’s on offer and what route we’re going to take. I know that my team are working on a couple of things – no names in particular, but more of a route to get back to the top end of the division. I’ll be back in the ring before the end of the year – maybe in late November.”

Earlier this month, Williams asked fans on his social media whom they would like to see him face next, with the names of three fellow Brits proving to be the most popular choices. Middleweights Chris Eubank Jnr (No. 9) and Felix Cash (No. 10) were regularly mentioned, as was super-welterweight Liam Smith, who holds two contentious wins over Williams from 2017, with the first of these victories being particularly controversial.

“With respect to Cash, I haven’t really got anything to gain from that fight,” Williams opined. “The fight itself is a good one, but it’s not really going to take me forward and it doesn’t really do anything for my career if I beat him. I only want fights that are going to benefit me. The Eubank fight is definitely one that interests me. That’s a big fight. He’s a name, so there’d be good money involved. The Smith fight interests me too, but mainly for personal reasons. I’d like to get a win over him after our two other fights.

“I’ve been a professional for almost 10 years now but I’m still very motivated. I know what I want and I know where I want to be. Of course, my little girl [five-year-old Myla] and boy give me motivation. I want to provide for them and make them proud.”