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Hamzah Sheeraz Steals Show With 1st-Round KO Over Liam Williams, Yarde Stops 2nd Journeyman Journeyman In A Row

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LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 10: Hamzah Sheeraz celebrates as Referee Mark Lyson awards him victory, after knocking down Liam Williams during the Commonwealth and WBC Silver Middleweight Title fight between Hamzah Sheeraz and Liam Williams at Copper Box Arena on February 10, 2024 in London, England. (Photo by James Chance/Getty Images)

The British domestic bout between middleweight contenders Hamzah Sheeraz and Liam Williams had been expected to be competitive but ended up lasting for just one round as Sheeraz coursed to a first-round stoppage victory. The two fighters main-evented at the Copper Box Arena in London on February 10th. Additionally, Anthony Yarde participated in another “stay busy” fight against an opponent who he was clearly not well-matched with. The event was promoted by Frank Warren’s Queenberry Promotions, and broadcasted by TNT Sports.

In a division (middleweight/160 lbs) where top British talent is not absent in the slightest, Hamzah Sheeraz (19-0, 15 KO’s) has managed to stand out as one of the more noteworthy British competitors due to his long-running knockout streak against relatively well-balanced opposition. Following his February 10th fight against Liam Williams (25-5-1, 20 KO’s), Sheeraz has given plenty of hints that he might be ready for the top fighters in his division but question marks still surround the perceived ability of the British middleweight contender.

The match between Sheeraz and Williams did not last long; particularly because of Liam Williams who seems to have gone through an amount of wear and tear that has noticeably made him quite susceptible. Though known as a mentally tough fighter, the punch resistance Williams once had no longer seems to be present as evident by what occurred during his match with Sheeraz.

Following the first minute of the first round between the British middleweights, Hamzah Sheeraz landed a soft jab from the orthodox stance that resulted in Williams being knocked down. With the jab having been thrown with no actual intentions to hurt Williams, the knockdown already spelled what would occur later; a knockout.

Seeing victory, Sheeraz naturally stepped on the gas pedal afterwards to attempt to finish Williams in the ring, but only found an opportunity at around the second minute of the half after a glancing uppercut resulted in Williams being dropped again.

Williams beat the count to get up but could not withstand Sheeraz’ subsequent pressure whose sharp jabs eventually sent Williams retreating into the corner. Just seconds after Sheeraz was launching an assault of combinations, a member of Williams’ team threw in the towel to signal for the match to end and the referee stopped the bout.

Hamzah Sheeraz was ruled the winner by technical knockout (TKO) which resulted in him retaining his BBBofC British and WBC Silver middleweight titles, but despite the lopsided victory, the jury is still out on how Sheeraz’ ability against the elite competitors in his division.

The glaring observation of the match was that Williams was either not conditioned or prepared well enough, or has simply been through too many hard bouts which has severely dwindled his punch resistance. While there was little to criticize Hamzah Sheeraz for, there was a sense the victory came too easily and quickly.

For the time being, Hamzah Sheeraz appears to be one of the best middleweights to come out of the United Kingdom, but it is still relatively unknown whether he is up to the task of being a world champion. The Williams fight arguably ended up to be a mismatch, and Sheeraz would benefit from building on his most recent performance and challenge a ranked fighter to truly gauge where his level is.

British light-heavyweight contender Anthony Yarde (25-3, 24 KO’s) also made an appearance on the card and netted a win by knockout/stoppage in the third round to put himself on a two-match winning streak. Facing Serbian contender Marko Nikolic (32-4, 12 KO’s), Yarde showed himself to have fully recovered from his 2023 loss to Artur Beterbiev (20-0, 20 KO’s), but uncertainty circles Yarde given the nature of the opponents he faced since his defeat to the unified light-heavyweight champion.

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LONDON, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 10: Anthony Yarde punches Marko Nikolic during the Light Heavyweight fight between Anthony Yarde and Marko Nikolic at Copper Box Arena on February 10, 2024 in London, England. (Photo by James Chance/Getty Images)

Marko Nikolic’s previous fight before facing Yarde involved fighting a fellow Serbian fighter in Darko Stevanovic (5-9, 3 KO’s) who had a losing record and almost a quarter of the experience Nikolic had in the pro ranks. Prior to that, Nikolic fought another fighter with an underwhelming resume when he faced Kevin Bartogal who was 8-46 at the time they fought.

The key takeaway from Yarde’s past two fights clearly indicate he is fighting journeymen rather than actual tested and ranked opponents, suggesting he has drifted back towards a “easy route” when it comes to matchmaking rather than challenging himself against better and more reputable fighters.

Though there seem to be indicators that Yarde will face fellow British light-heavyweight―and the current WBA mandatory challenger of the division―Joshua Buatsi (18-0, 13 KO’s), there is little indication that this match would be competitive despite the build-up suggesting this is the most sought after fight between British competitors at 175 lbs other than Yarde’s past participation in world title fights against the likes of Beterbiev and Sergey Kovalev.

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LONDON, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 10: Boxer Joshua Buatsi looks on as Anthony Yarde speaks to the media after defeating Marko Nikolic (not pictured) during the Light Heavyweight fight between Anthony Yarde and Marko Nikolic at Copper Box Arena on February 10, 2024 in London, England. (Photo by James Chance/Getty Images)

Yarde’s current path would see him go into the match with Buatsi less sharp and focused as he could have been fighting higher-ranked opponents, while Buatsi will have benefitted from fighting the likes of Dan Azeez (20-1, 13 KO’s) and Pawel Stepien (19-1-1, 12 KO’s) when he fought them over the past year―with both of whom being ranked by one of the major sanctioning bodies and being unbeaten at the time Buatsi faced them.

However, the sport is boxing is not strictly bound to form and resume alone and Yarde’s prior attempts to obtain world title glory―as opposed to Buatsi who has yet to fight in a world title bout―does signify his potential within the division, and the sport itself, and there is everything to suggest their fight would be one of the most competitive of the year given Yarde’s style depends on his aggression and determination to grind out wins.