September 22, 2023; Orlando, Florida; Austin Williams and Steve Rolls pose after weighing in for the Matchroom Boxing card taking place on Saturday September 23, 2023 at the Caribe Royale in Orlando, Florida. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom.
Austin Williams is not like the other middleweights.
In fact, Williams believes he is the best middleweight on the planet.
Not only does Williams claim to be the best at 160 pounds, but he also states he can be a throwback boxer at a time when fighters do not fight as often as they should.
Williams will face Steve Rolls Saturday night at the Caribe Royale in Orlando, Florida. The 10-round bout will open the four-bout card that will stream live on DAZN (8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT).
At Friday’s weigh-in, Rolls weighed in at the middleweight limit of 160 pounds. Rolls weighed in at 159.2 pounds.
In his last bout on April 1 in London, England, Williams (14-0, 10 knockouts) dropped River Wilson-Bent once en route to an eighth-round knockout victory. In his previous fight on December 3, Williams defeated Simon Madsen by unanimous decision in a clash of unbeaten middleweights.
The southpaw Williams, who resides in Houston, Texas, will face a fighter in Rolls who has won three of his last five bouts. Rolls (22-2, 12 KOs), who resides in Toronto, Canada, has not fought since July 22 of last year, defeating previously-unbeaten Shady Gamhour by unanimous decision.
Rolls’ two defeats were to Gennadiy Golovkin and Edgar Berlanga, with both fights taking place in the super middleweight division. Despite Rolls’ level of opposition, Williams believes he is level above Rolls.
“I really hope I can perform outstanding on Saturday,” Williams told The Ring Thursday. “I want this fight to be faster and easier than when Rolls fought Golovkin. I want it to be a better performance. I want it to be a better performance and I want a devastating knockout. I want the knockout to be as memorable as the fight itself.
“Golovkin is one of my idols. To be compared to him while I’m coming up is amazing. As far as idols, he fought top competition. It’s an exciting fight. I want to take full advantage of this fight.”
The 27-year-old Williams is on the cusp of becoming a legit contender in a division that has seen better days. The division is wide open after Golovkin vacated his world title belts and stepping away from the sport, for now.
Williams believes he is no longer a prospect, but a contender, one who is willing to face any of the top middleweights in the sport.
“I believe I’m a top contender now,” said Williams, who is promoted by Eddie Hearn and managed by Sam Katkovski. “This fight will put me into world title contention.
“People forget I fought Denis Douglin when I was 6-0. If you look at who he has fought, he’s faced top fighters. Not taking anything away from Rolls but look at what Rolls has done and look at what Douglin has done.
“I left the prospect stage when I knocked out Chordale Booker. I stepped into contender status. I want Matchroom to get the most out of me and I’m at the world title level. I want to fight the best because there are those who aren’t going to fight me on the prospect level. It’s not going to happen. It’s hard to find those fights and I’ve been a contender for a while.”
Williams is already thinking big, as far as the level of opposition he will next face after the Rolls fight.
There is the unification fight that will take place between WBO titleholder Janibek Alimkhanuly and IBF titleholder Vincenzo Gualtieri on October 14. There are the other world titleholders in Erislandy Lara, the WBA titleholder, and WBC titleholder Jermall Charlo.
Williams is skeptical if he will immediately face any of those fighters in the near future. Based on who he has faced and the way he has won those fights, Williams is convinced he is deserving of a world title shot.
“Honestly, I could see myself challenging for a vacant world title belt,” said Williams. “That makes the most sense. I’m on the fast track and I know my team, with Eddie Hearn, could make things happen.
“People don’t understand that I’ve faced quality opposition. Douglin can beat some fighters. I stopped Quatavious Cash when he only had two losses. I beat Kieron Conway. He’s very talented and he could beat most middleweights right now.
“So when people say that Rolls is my toughest opponent, he is not. I’ve fought guys that bring great things to the table. I want this to be a great fight where I can make a statement and I could catapult myself. My skills are on another level. No other f
Williams believes he will become an undisputed champion at 160 pounds. He has aspirations to fight as often as possible and, even eyeing a possible move to super middleweight after conquering the 160-pound division.
Williams must first take care of business against Rolls and send a message to the other middleweights in the sport.
“I was meant to be a world champion. This is not a fluke. I really believe I’m the top guy at 160 pounds. I don’t see being that far and away from the world champions. I still make leaps in the gym, and I learn something new every day. I’m still young and developing.
“I don’t think any of the four (world titleholders) is that special. They don’t live that life where it’s set up to be a champion. Unlike them, I’m active. They fight once in a blue moon. My Dad has a saying that ‘Availability is the greatest ability. I’m dedicated to the sport, and when I win a world title, I want to defend it three-four times a year. I’m dedicated and constructed to be the best.
“As time unfolds, I’m going to have a stranglehold in the division. Everything is falling into place. Once I get a world championship, I’ll make my reign, then move up to super middleweight. First things first, I will be the true middleweight champion of the world.”
Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached at [email protected]