Since setting his sights on becoming a world champion boxer nearly three and a half years ago, Jimmy Williams has never had to look far for motivation.
As a college student in 2008, Williams learned of the tragic passing of his mother, Belinda, found strangled to death behind an abandoned building. The case remains unsolved to this day, but Williams, the reigning, undefeated World Boxing Council U.S. Boxing Council Welterweight Champion out of New Haven, Conn., continues to fight in her memory, hoping one day to find the closure he’s sought for nearly a decade.
Williams’ mother would’ve been proud; the 30-year-old welterweight, a full-time truancy officer in West Haven whose wife is expecting twins in October, boasts a 13-0-1 record as he prepares to defend his title for the first time Saturday, Aug. 26th, 2017 at Foxwoods Resort Casino against Bronx, N.Y., vet Issouf Kinda (18-4, 7 KOs) in the 10-round main event, presented by Williams’ long-time promoter, CES Boxing.
One week from Saturday, he’ll have a second angel on his shoulder when he climbs through the ropes. Williams is dedicating this upcoming fight to the memory of the late Ben Callahan, a 10-year-old boy from nearby Branford who drowned in a drainage pipe one month ago while swimming with his two brothers in the Brandford River.
Williams is close with the family; the father, Dave Callahan, is a personal trainer at Shoreline Athletics CrossFit in Branford, where Williams works on his strength and conditioning. Through the years, Williams formed a strong bond with Ben. They often worked out together when Williams was in town.
“Great kid,” Williams said. “You see the faith of his family. I’m ready to go out here and be a warrior for myself and show that I’ll fight for anybody that’s lost somebody.”
As Williams prepares for the inevitable challenges of fatherhood, it’s impossible to not feel empathy for a family that suffered such a tragic loss. Confident as ever, Williams knows he’s in for the challenge of a lifetime against the 22-fight vet Kinda, but promises to retain his title, even as his challenger threatens to “bring the belt back to the Bronx.”
“I’ll die in that ring before I give up the title,” Williams said. “I train real hard. I know I’m a champion and I know everybody wants to take what’s mine and what I’ve worked hard for.
“I know where I came from. Nobody’s going to take this. I’m going to show on the 26th why I’m undefeated and why I’ve got the belt.”
The Aug. 26th extravaganza is a rare double-feature; the live boxing event, which features eight bouts, begins at 6 p.m. ET at The Premier Ballroom, and all fans who purchase a ticket receive free entry next door at the Grand Theater for the live Pay Per View showing of the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight in Nevada later that night.
“This is the only place in the world you can see both live boxing and the most talked-about fight in years in one place for just one price,” CES Boxing president Jimmy Burchfield Sr. said.
Tickets are priced at $55, $90, $155 and $325 and can be purchased online at www.cesboxing.com, www.foxwoods.com, or www.ticketmaster.com, by phone at 401-724-2253 or 800-200-2882 or at the Grand Theater Box Office. All $55, $90 and $155 tickets offer buyers a reserved ticket to the Mayweather-McGregor PPV. A $325 ticket purchase includes preferred seating. All bouts are subject to change.
Tickets for the closed-circuit event only can be purchased online at www.foxwoods.com, by phone at 800-200-2882 or through any Ticketmaster location.
As an added bonus, the entire eight-fight card at The Premier Ballroom, presented by CES Boxing, will stream live on Facebook, free of charge, as part of the FIGHTNIGHT LIVE Facebook Series.
Williams’ title defense against the dangerous Kinda comes four months after the New Haven welterweight captured the WBC USNBC title with a resounding win over Nick DeLomba in Rhode Island. Williams has won nine consecutive bouts since his lone blemish, a draw against New Jersey’s Greg Jackson in 2013.
Kinda, a former North American Boxing Organization (NABO) lightweight and WBC Continental Americas super lightweight title contender, handed New England prospect Zach Ramsey his first career loss in May of 2016 and has tangled with the best in the light welterweight division, among them unbeaten Jose Carlos Ramirez, Ismael Barroso and Mike Arnaoutis, whom be defeated by unanimous decision in 2012.
USNBC title-holders have enjoyed great success in their careers. Nine current or former title-holders have gone on to win world titles and 28 others have fought for a major world championship. Since capturing the title in April, Williams has risen to No. 12 among welterweights in the North American Boxing Federation (NABF) rankings.
“He’s a warrior, just like myself,” Williams said of Kinda. “He didn’t come to lose. He came to take whatever’s mine. He knows if he beats me, it puts him back on a roll. He’ll be in grea shape. I’m just ready to go ahead and make the right adjustments and go out and win this fight, somehow, some way.
“It won’t be a walk in the park, but at this level where I’m at now, no fight will be a walk in the park.”
Also on Aug. 26th, both Sicilian heavyweight Juiseppe Angelo Cusumano (11-1, 9 KOs), a.k.a. “Rocky,” and standout Worcester lightweight Jamaine Ortiz (4-0, 3 KOs), who competed in the U.S. Olympic Trials in Reno in 2015, make their Foxwoods’ debuts in separate bouts.
The Foxwoods undercard also includes a six-round junior welterweight showdown between unbeatens Cristobal Marrero (4-0, 3 KOs) of New London, Conn., and Springfield, Mass., native Miguel Ortiz (2-0, 1 KO), plus a cruiserweight showdown between Richard Rivera (2-0, 2 KOs) of Hartford, Conn., and eight-time Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC) vet Leandro Silva of Sao Paolo, Brazil, an intriguing, four-round crossover bout following in the footsteps of Mayweather-McGregor.
Aug. 26th also features a four-round middleweight bout between Hartford’s Jose Rivera (3-1, 3 KOs) and North Carolina vet Corwin Farmer (1-1), plus the professional debut of super middleweight Jarel Pemberton of Boston, the son of former world-title challenger “Sandman” Scott Pemberton, in a four-round bout against Nathan Schulte (0-2) of Woburn, Mass. Hartford welterweight Jeff Gonzalez, a two-time Western New England Golden Gloves champion, will make his professional debut in a separate four-round bout.