Trainer Gary Lockett has admitted Liam Williams lost to the more experienced man on the night against domestic rival Liam Smith in their October rematch.
Williams (16-2-1) was on the wrong end of a majority decision with one judge scoring the contest a draw whilst the other two had Smith (26-1-1) winning by a significant margin, producing cards of 117-111 and 116-112 in the former champion’s favour.
The bout, which took place at the Metro Arena in Newcastle was a rematch from their first contest which saw Williams pulled out after nine rounds due to a cut he sustained on his right eye in April.
Lockett paid credit to Smith for his performance, which saw him win the WBO interim world title and move in line for a shot at champion Sadam Ali.
“It was disappointing obviously, for Liam (Williams) to get beat,” Lockett exclusively told World Boxing News.
“I thought that he was really good in the fight, I thought that he was the aggressor and, to be honest, I thought that he landed the better punches.”
“But, Smith changed his style from the first fight and I don’t think you’ve ever seen him fight like that, trying to box on the back foot. But, Smith came on strong in the last 30 seconds of every round.”
“Liam Smith won and we’re not bitter about that in any way shape or form. He lost to the better man on the night but it was a very close fight.”
Despite the two defeats, Lockett insisted that, even with the benefit of hindsight, it was the right decision for Williams to move up levels to take the fights against Smith.
“When Liam took his shot at Smith, he’d only had 17 fights,” continued Lockett. “There are guys these days that have had 17 fights and haven’t fought much more than an eight-rounder.”
“You have to make the decision to say whether it’s too early or is it the right time. Even though he got beat twice, the first time was very controversial and the second time it was a close fight.”
“If you’d say to me now ‘was it the right thing to do?’ then I’d say ‘yeah, definitely’. He earned a lot of money for the fights and he never got hurt in any of the fights.”
“He’s ready to stay at the level and work towards the next stage.”
There was plenty of rivalry between Smith and Williams in both contests and while both men may not see eye to eye in the future, Lockett said that do hold respect for one another.
“We’ve both got a lot of respect towards Smith,” continued the trainer. “There was a lot of needle in the build-up to both fights.”
“Liam Smith won and we’re not bitter about that in any way shape or form. He lost to the better man on the night but it was a very close fight.
“The judges’ scorecard was laughable, one of them had it right, scoring it a draw. But, the other two, I don’t know what they were watching, to be honest.
“For me, the fight was very close by a point or two. One of the judge’s had it 117-111 which is completely out of context with what happened in the fight.
“But I think after the last fight, they showed that they’ve both got the ultimate respect for each other. It is boxing and there is going to be needle going into fights and maybe afterwards sometimes.
“But, it was just good to see them both on terms with the last one, and even though Liam lost the two fights, he certainly wasn’t found wanting in talent, I just feel that he was beaten by experience,” he added.
Jacob Kilbride is a staff writer for World Boxing News. Follow on Twitter @jacob_kilbride