Thursday, January 23, 2014
Williams squares off with White on FNF
By Bernardo Pilatti
In what may be the predecessor of a world title fight, undefeated light heavyweight Thomas Williams Jr. faces Cornelius White in the main event on "Friday Night Fights" (ESPN2, 9 p.m. ET) from the Little Creek Casino in Shelton, Wash.
Williams (15-0, 10 KOs), a southpaw, is coming off of the biggest victory of his career, a 10-round unanimous decision against former title challenger Yusaf Mack in November. White (21-2, 16 KOs), meanwhile, is one fight removed from a devastating knockout loss to unbeaten titlist Sergey Kovalev in June.
Williams' manager and trainer, George Peterson, who once guided former welterweight titlist Paul Williams, believes White will be a tough test.
"Cornelius White is a good fighter," Peterson said. "He's taller and experienced. We must respect him, but we are well prepared and we won't have any problem against him."
There's little question Williams is the favorite, and he will enter the ring with plenty of confidence. But White is looking forward to the challenge of facing the promising, unbeaten southpaw.
"This will be my first test against a lefty, but it's a great opportunity to reach the next level," White said. "I've been waiting for an opponent like him to take away his undefeated status. I'm ready for war and on [Friday] you will all know what I'm capable of."
Originally this bout was scheduled to take place on the undercard of a welterweight duel between Javier Molina and former junior welterweight titlist Kendall Holt. Molina, however, suffered a broken right hand, bumping Williams-White into the main slot.
Williams, a Baltimore native, is a quick and aggressive fighter with power in both hands. He has shown a good variety of combinations, but his main offensive tool is the outside hook with either hand. He fights behind a high guard, but tends to dodge most hits by moving his waist.
White is only an inch taller than Williams, but he has a four-inch reach advantage, which he will likely use to set the distance with his jab. His first priority will be to avoid trading shots at close range, a strategy which cost him against Kovalev.
If White can find success from the outside, his height advantage could help him as it did in December 2011 against Cuban Yordanis Despaigne, whom he slowed down with a persistent assault of hooks and straight punches to win by decision.
In the co-feature, former 122-pound titlist Rico Ramos (22-3, 12 KOs) faces Jonathan Arellano (14-2-2, 3 KOs) in a 10-round featherweight bout.