Six months after their controversial first meeting, the two Liams meet again. Ralph Ellis is looking forward to a good old fashioned grudge match.

Everybody loves a good grudge match. You know the talk. "Mostly it's just business but this time I want to really hurt the guy," says Boxer A of Boxer B.

It often brings a capacity crowd but normally ends with them hugging each other in the ring afterwards and talking about how much respect they have.

Every now and then, though, comes a battle where you suspect there really is no love lost between the two fighters. And Liam Smith's rematch with Liam Williams in Newcastle this Saturday night falls into that category.

They last met in Manchester in April and the insults have been going on since. Smith, from Liverpool, was declared the winner after Welshman Williams was pulled out of the contest by his corner in the 10th because of a cut to his eye that was pouring blood, and subsequently needed plastic surgery.

Smith, who had also been cut early in the contest, accused Williams of having no heart. Williams insisted the damage was done by a butt rather than a punch. "He should have been disqualified," he claimed. "It was no accident. The referee robbed me of my unbeaten record."

There are also questions over why Smith, who held the WBO light middleweight title from October 2015 to September 2016, failed to make weight for the first time in eight years. It meant a contest that should have brought the vacant WBO title to the winner was relegated to a non-title fight.

What happens next is even more muddled. Promoter Frank Warren believes the contest has the status of a WBO eliminator - but current champion Miguel Cotto has announced that his meeting with Sadam Ali in New York in December will be his last fight before retirement.

Williams, 25, who started his working life as a roofer in the Rhonda Valley, was winning on points before the stoppage and that's why he's 1.89 favourite in the Match Odds when they clash in Newcastle's Metro Arena.

He's probably the more skilful boxer of the two. After gaining a reputation in his amateur days as a bit of a scrapper, trainer Gary Lockett worked hard to teach him ring craft, and he's light on his feet.

But 29-year-old Smith's greater experience could be a telling factor. The Liverpudlian boasts a proud record of just one defeat in 27 fights, and that was to the brilliant Saul Alvarez, when he was knocked down in the ninth round. The Mexican needed to produce his best because, after a slow start, Smith had begun to look dangerous in rounds six and seven.

Since then he's rebuilt his confidence with a straightforward points victory over Spaniard Marian Cazacu before the first Williams fight.

You can argue about the rights or wrongs of how Williams got his cut, but the fact is that Smith somehow found a way to win even though he'd fallen behind on points, and he can do that again. That's why I quite like the 3.00 for him to win inside the distance in the Method of Victory market.

Whatever way it ends, though, you suspect there won't be too many hugs going on in the ring afterwards.


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