When you think about the top featherweight boxers in the world the likes of Leo Santa Cruz, Carl Frampton and Gary Russell Jr spring to mind. But there is another man that the top fighters in the division should be very worried about.
The stadium is still filling up at the Mandalay Bay Hotel Events Center and neither Ward nor Kovalev have yet arrived for their much hyped rematch. The Sky Sports and HBO broadcasts have started and whilst the stadium is nearly empty, a large TV audience has tuned in to watch the up and coming fighters on the undercard. Tramaine Williams walks to the ring. The 5’4’’ featherweight contender has a spring in his step. His opponent, Christopher Martin, is older and far more experienced than Williams. Martin’s ring resume is a who’s who of the featherweight division featuring the likes of Garry Russell Jr.
The first bell goes, If he is intimidated by Martin’s credentials, Williams shows no sign of it as he rushes to meet him in the middle of the ring. From the opening exchanges of the fight it becomes apparently obvious that this fight is only ending one way. With one minute left in the second round, Kenny Bayless jumps in and stops the fight. Martin protests the decision but Bayless had no choice, Martin simply had no answer for William’s onslaught. To the Sky Sports commentary team and anyone else watching, it has just been made very clear that Tramaine Williams is the real deal.
Hip hop superstar Jay Z and his team at Roc Nation also saw the future champion in Williams and signed him in January 2016. With that type of support Williams has gone from strength to strength and has comfortably won his four subsequent fights whilst also quickly gaining experience and profile.
Boxing has been William’s life for as long as can remember. Williams began boxing at the age of nine, accumulating an impressive amateur record of 97-10. Williams was a ten-time national amateur champion as well as a two-time Ringside World champion and a four-time Silver Gloves champion. At just 19 years old, Williams decided to turn professional. After making easy work of his first nine opponents and making it clear his amateur pedigree had converted itself to the professional ranks, Williams’s life took a turn for the worst.
Just two days before a scheduled fight at Madison Square Garden, police raided his grandmother’s home where Williams was asleep. Police found a tec-9 automatic pistol and drugs in the residence and arrested Williams. Williams was later sentenced to 2 ½ years in prison. Williams openly admits that he was on a bad path and prison may well have saved him.
Emerging from prison he was a new man. Whilst inside, Williams got his GED and got his life back on track. Williams is now more motivated than ever. Now teamed up with trainer Mike Conroy and strength and conditioning coach Tia Murray, Williams has been on the war path and there has been a trail of destruction left in his wake. If the world needed any further indication of Williams’s talent, an explosive knockout victory over William Gonzalez, leaving Gonzalez motionless on the canvas, put it beyond doubt that Williams is the future of the featherweight division.
Following his most recent win over Derrick Murray, thoughts turn to what is next for Williams. The 24 year old, known as the Mighty Midget, is surely just around the corner from a world title shot. Williams’s speed and power make him a horrific voluntary defense for the likes of Garry Russel Jr, Leo Santa Cruz and Lee Selby. As a result, he might turn out to be a victim of his own talent and find himself having to fight to a mandatory position.
After watching an hour of Williams fighting on YouTube, I have never felt so comfortable in a prediction as a boxing writer. With his indisputable talent and the backing of Roc Nation, it’s not if Tramaine Williams becomes a world champion, but when.
Williams is continues his journey in December when he next returns to the ring.
Photos: Beau Moran