Willie Williams doesn’t care if you doubt him. He proves the doubters wrong every time he steps into the ring, because some said he wouldn’t even make it there.
Willie Williams is a believer, and if you don’t know his name now, he believes you will very soon. Williams is set to fight Roy Jones Jr. in a cruiserweight fight on March 6 at the Cabarrus Arena & Events Center in Concord, N.C.
Although Jones told ESPN.com that he’s just “staying busy” until his fight for the cruiserweight title in the fall, Williams doesn’t let the underestimation bother him.
“That’s how the boxing game is,” said Williams. “I’m the underdog in this fight. I look at it as an opportunity. That’s how stuff happens. You shock the world.”
Williams (14-8, 4 KOs) is coming off a four-round decision win against Michael Gutrick on Nov. 6. The win follows back-to-back losses to Eric Watkins and Frankie Filippone. Still, Williams is confident that it’s his time to shine.
“It is what it is. You have to keep striving to move forward. A lot of things are way better than they were,” said Williams. “Mentally, I’m not allowing any of the old things get in my way or the negative things come to my mind. It’s all positive.”
It hasn’t always been easy for the 36-year-old to keep a positive mindset. Growing up in West Baltimore during a time when broken homes, drugs and crime were the norm, was challenging. Without a father figure in his life, Williams turned to the streets to provide for his family.
When Williams was 23, he was finally introduced to what would soon become his passion in life.
“I always wanted to box,” Williams said with a wide smile.
One day, a good friend convinced him to go to the gym. Williams was heavily interested in lifting weights and staying fit, so he decided to visit the Brooklyn Boxing Club for a day. It was a life-changing experience.
“I said, ‘Whoa, my muscles feel crazy. This is a different feeling. I like it,’” Williams recalled. “So we went again, and I guys sparring. I wanted to do what they were doing. So we asked the owner of the gym, and he made me sign a waiver. The guy was a big guy with more experience than me…knocking people out.”
With no experience, Williams stepped into the ring and went toe-to-toe for four rounds. He was a natural boxer. Within a month, he won his first fight as an amateur. Williams’ professional debut in 2006 was first-round total knockout in his favor.
Nine years later, Williams is more than a professional boxer. He’s a father of two, personal trainer, businessman and role model for inner-city youth.
Mack Allison, one of the coaches at Upton Boxing Center in Baltimore, said Williams has a strong presence in the gym among the younger boxers.
“He’s one of the people I enjoy working with because he’s always giving. He’s been a giver since I knew him,” said Allison. “He’s accessible to the kids, and he just puts people before himself.”
Allison—who’s worked with Williams for the past eight years—has total confidence that Williams will return to Baltimore with another win.
“Right now, it’s about Willie Williams,” said Allison. “It’s going to be a great fight. His attitude is positive, and we’re going for the ‘W.’ We’re not looking for nothing else but the ‘W.’”
“Whatever your dream is, just keep pushing,” said Williams. “That’s why I’m here today. That’s why I have this fight. It’s not over yet.”