In a sensational, albeit short-lived main event at the Little Creek Casino Resort in Shelton, Washington, up-and-coming southpaw Thomas Williams Jr. continued his speedy rise up the light-heavyweight rankings when he stopped dangerous floater Cornelius White in the very first round. The victory takes Williams’s record to 16-0 (11), whilst veteran White’s ledger slipped to 21-3 (16). The card was promoted by Goossen-Tutor and was televised live on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights in the U.S. and on BT Sport in the UK.
Prior to the fight, White was perceived as a potential banana-skin for the promoter’s prospect Williams, having secured an exceptional upset victory in December 2011 over then highly-regarded Cuban Yordanis Despaigne, when White comprehensively outboxed the experienced Cuban over six rounds for a wide points decision. White had subsequently been destroyed by world champion in waiting, Sergey Kovalev, but then that was nothing to be ashamed of.
However, the clue as to how this fight might go probably lay in White’s only other previous defeat, when he was taken out in one round by super-middleweight Donovan George. The question was, could we ignore that defeat as a blip, as certainly all fighters are susceptible to being caught early. The answer came last night when White was caught cold by the streaking Williams and was not able to make it out of the first round once again.
This was not just an easy blow out for Williams though, as he was put on the canvas himself for the first time in his career, which is what made this fight so wildly exciting whilst it lasted. The first knockdown had been scored by Williams with a southpaw straight left which actually landed on White’s glove, held in front of his chin, but the force of the blow put White down. He quickly arose looking more embarrassed than hurt. As the two continued to trade blows though, it was obviously Williams who was doing the most damage. He clearly hurt White, forcing him to retreat into a corner. As Williams went after his stricken prey though, he left himself open to a left hook counter which landed flush on the chin and put him over. Williams was hurt, despite his protestations afterwards to the contrary.
It proved to be a momentary setback though as almost before the viewers could blink, it was White’s turn to go down again, having been caught high on the top of the head by a Williams right hook. This time he was badly hurt and actually failed to respond to referee Bobby Howard’s command to walk towards him after the eight-count had been completed. Howard gave him the benefit of the doubt anyway, but within seconds Williams had forced the referee to step in as he whaled away at White in a corner.
Williams is good news for the light-heavyweight division, which for a number of years has been bereft of good quality contenders. Despite the division now being ruled by two terrific fighters, in Kovalev and Stevenson, it is overall still very low in quality. This has been exacerbated by the recent move to cruiserweight of the two British contenders, Cleverly and Bellew. Williams therefore will slot nicely into the top 10. He has apparently expressed an interest in fighting the awesome Kovalev. It is this writer’s view therefore that Williams should be immediately placed on suicide watch as he surely has no great regard for his own health.
In the semi-main event we got a decent match, made at featherweight, between former WBA super-bantamweight champion Rico Ramos and Jonathan Arrellano, who has become something of a gatekeeper relatively early in his career. Ramos, despite fighting in world class on a couple of occasions, is most definitely not world class himself. Despite winning the previously-mentioned belt, he was actually being outclassed in that vacant title fight by Japanese opponent Akifumi Shimoda, before one big left hook cancelled out everything that had gone before and gave Ramos the title.
It was that same punch which was the difference between him and Arrellano last night, as the latter suffered three knockdowns, all from left hooks, resulting in Ramos scoring a wide points victory on the cards. Arrellano, who was a bit of a prospect himself at the start of his career, has too easily settled into the opponent role and was fairly comfortably outboxed in the first three rounds by the former beltholder. The fight was as good as over in the fourth when Arrellano went to the canvas twice, and again in the fifth round, when the third knockdown occurred. Arrellano was already beaten there and then because he just does not have the punch power to turn around such a wide points deficit.
To give Arrellano his due, he did make a fightback, winning rounds six and seven, trapping Ramos in a corner in the latter round for a brief period. However, Ramos quickly re-established his authority and skated the last three rounds, boxing from the outside with his left jab taking the points. There was a comic moment in the final round when Ramos joined in the crowd’s chanting of “Hawks” “Hawks”, in reference to the local football team’s appearance in next week’s Superbowl. As Ramos joined the crowd for his second chant of “Hawks”, Arrellano flew at him with a punch, causing Ramos to have to duck mid-sentence.
The three judges all pretty much concurred, with one scoring 98-88, and the other two at 98-89. This writer agreed with the latter score. Despite my earlier protestations that Ramos is not world class, he does have world class backing, due to his alliance with uber-manager Al Haymon. With two victories on the spin now, he will no doubt shortly appear in a big fight on the undercard of an HBO or Showtime card before too much longer.