With just over five weeks to go until they fight for the British heavyweight title, North East rivals Troy Williamson and Josh Kelly have started playing their mind games, reports Elliot Worsell.
It seems inevitable that the word “strong” will be said a lot ahead of the December 2nd fight between British heavyweight champion Troy Williamson and his North East rival Josh Kelly.
A word that is not easy to define, there, where this fight is concerned, must be the focus on the physical strength of the two fighters involved and, equally important, their mental strength. For Kelly, 12-1-1 (7), you understand the mental aspect of the game is as important as the physical, while, for Williamson, 19-0-1 (14), a lot of confidence comes in. believing Kelly, a former welterweight, could not match him physically when the pair met in Newcastle in December.
Chances are, the winner, as always, will be the one who has mastered both the mental and physical side of the game. Until then, however, both will be looking to strengthen those aspects – physically and mentally – in the five weeks leading up to the fight.
“I feel relieved about that,” Kelly, the challenger, said Boxing news at Tuesday’s press conference to announce the fight. “I feel ready and confident. It’s no different (with the previous two fights this year). I feel like I’m in a good mood and I don’t need to come out of this. Although I’ve only fought 13 battles, I’m skilled enough to handle all of this.
“It’s all part of the process,” he said of the growing interest in Williamson’s fight. “It’s all part of the show. You have to take it in your stride and relax and make it all fun. At the end of the day, it’s all about building this fight.
“I feel like I’ve had more experience in those situations than him. I have a lot of experience and I’m smart enough not to let anyone get under my skin.
Knowing leads to many things, including contempt. It also provides clarity and awareness of buttons to press and vulnerabilities to exploit, something Williamson knows better than most.
“We spent a lot of time together, going to a lot of tournaments on the train,” he said BN. “I went to Sheffield and left him. We did a lot of rounds.
“After boxing, I love Josh. He is a good boy. But it’s business, isn’t it? This is the injury game. You have to put friendship aside. After that, we can shake hands and be friends again. There is nothing personal. It’s just business. This is my job.”
Speaking of business, Williamson doesn’t need to be reminded of how important it is for a fighter to advertise and advertise, either to online fans or fans who gather at football fields up and down every week. That’s why he understood Kelly’s decision to align himself with the Sunderland football team, his hometown team, even if he was struggling to see Kelly’s passion for football.
He said (in a previous interview) that he doesn’t care about football, but what kind of person doesn’t care about football? Williamson said. “We all love football, don’t we? It’s all just lies. Now suddenly he is from Sunderland; The last two weeks he’s been a Sunderland fan.”
Williamson, 31, continued: “I put the Newcastle top in his last fight (in July), but anyone who knows me knows what I do. I have never come out and said I support Newcastle. I just put the top on to get under his skin and rub it a little. Apparently it worked. Everyone knows I’m from Darlington and trained at Middlesbrough.”
Of the aforementioned sessions, Kelly admits he remembers very little. He did, however, remember to win – “I got the best of them” – which gives some confidence in himself before the couple reunites in the sense of competition before the end of the year. That belief is being aided, too, by the move to super-welterweight, a division he’s as excited about as he’s ever been.
“I feel like this is my natural weight,” he said. “It’s just nice to be able to focus on the opponent and the next fight instead of focusing on those things and making weight. The last fight (against Lucas Bastida in July) I looked the bigger of the two in a way. It’s definitely my natural responsibility, I just have to take the steps to get here. I’m more comfortable here.”
Better than feeling good, Kelly feels strong. He feels stronger than he did when competing as a heavyweight and, what’s more, he thinks he’s stronger than Troy Williamson when the pair go head-to-head in Newcastle.
“Obviously he’s a strong athlete, but I believe I’ll be stronger than him when he gets to weight, because he struggles with weight,” Kelly said. “I think he’s going to be surprised by that, and I think a lot of people underestimate my strength. But I’m good at middleweights and heavyweights and I can push them back. It takes more technique to do that. It’s not just strength. It’s not physical or big. It’s about being able to push yourself into a position and force your strength on people.”
Stuck somewhere between amusement and insult, Williamson, upon hearing Kelly’s claim, could only laugh.
“I think this is ridiculous,” he said in response. “I’m not struggling to gain weight. I eat and sleep and box and I never go out to parties or anything like that. I’m going to do 10 weeks to make weight and I haven’t made weight (since his last fight). If you look at my last fight (in September), I was 12 3 stone and not overweight. I only weighed 12 stone because I only had a week’s notice. I’m going to be heavier this time than I’ve ever been.
“I think he’s had two fights at super-welter. He hasn’t really fought anybody at 11 pounds. You put him with the opponents I’ve fought at that weight and I don’t think he’ll get the job done.”
In addition to strength, “toughness” is a word that is repeated a lot when it comes to these two, especially by Williamson. He relied on his own toughness to get him through fights with the likes of Ted Cheeseman and Mason Cartwright and, not only that, he blamed something he didn’t have on Kelly, who, he said, otherwise he is not “intelligent”.
“I don’t think he likes it when she’s tough,” Williamson said. “He likes to play at his own pace. When he’s tough, and he’s cut, and he’s taken out of his comfort zone, I don’t think he can handle it.
“I have great grace, strength, punching power, fitness, and deep determination. Also, hunger, to be honest. It was shown in my last fight, where I was down on the canvas and I got up. got the job. But when he was struggling in the fights, he poured half the bottle and the corner threw in the towel. I think that’s going to be a big deal if we fight.”
Perhaps Williamson’s greatest asset going into this fight on December 2nd is his steadfastness in honesty. That said, while he is as naturally confident as any champion set to defend his title, the Darlington man also has enough about him to face and accept the reality of his situation, the good and the bad. This, in many ways, is truth mental strength.
“I’m not fooled, I’ll definitely be down (on the scorecard) in the first round,” he said. “He’s very fast, he’s slick. But it’s a marathon, a 12-round match, and at some point I’m going to catch up with him. At this point, is he going to hold on or is he going to crash? I think he’s going to crash in the next round if he starts.” to be tough.”
Kelly, of course, a 28-year-old who has battled his share of demons and, he believes, conquered them, couldn’t agree more with that prediction. In his mind, it is not even a question. He will, if the time is right. if It’s time, get every answer needed for Williamson.
“I’m faster, more skilled, and a better boxer,” he said. “I think the only way for him is to try to win, just come forward, take one and give the other. He has to have the same mindset going in, I’ve never fought in my life like this and it’s a way dangerous to think about, especially when you know the person you’re talking to is better than you.
“If I’m training an opponent who will come forward without stopping, how can I do it? not be prepared for a fierce battle? He can’t box me, because if he does, he will be beaten. So he must try to fight me. I’ve been through a lot right now. I know the score and I know what’s coming. I will prepare for that.
“I believe in the end he’s going to walk into a shot he didn’t see coming and he ends up getting hurt and thrown. A lot of people think I’m a box guy, which I am, and I can do that round after round. , but I can also dig a little bit. If he wants to come forward randomly, he’s going to get hurt. I believe that could be the deciding factor. But if it comes to round 12, he’s going to box him himself.
Troy Williamson defends his England heavyweight title against Josh Kelly on December 3rd at Newcastle Arena, LIVE on Channel 5 ***