By Alex Pierpaoli
“The older you get, you gotta be smart,” says West Haven, CT’s, Jimmy Williams.
“At this age, to fight at this weight, it feels good.” The 35 year old prizefighter steps through the ropes for the twenty-ninth time as a professional on Saturday night at the Barclay’s Center, in Brooklyn, NY. Williams battles Luis Arias, of Boca Raton, Florida, in a ten round junior middleweight bout (catchweight of 156lbs) to be aired live on YouTube as part of the Gervonta Davis-Rolando Romero Pay-Per-View undercard. Jimmy Williams, 18-7-2 (6), a thirty-five year old father of twin boys, hopes to rebound after two straight losses since a majority-decision win over Yuri Foreman in June of 2021.
“Beating Yuri Foreman put me back in this position. That was a big win for me,” Williams says. He fires a one-two at a heavy bag inside the Montanari Brother’s Powerhouse Gym in New Haven, CT where Williams first started training before debuting as a pro in January of 2013. “To be 35, to be in great shape, to be on this level, I’ve been blessed.”
This is Williams second time fighting on the undercard of a big pay-per-view. In July of twenty-nineteen, he lost to Abel Ramos on the off-tv undercard of Manny Pacquiao versus Keith Thurman. Tomorrow night Williams versus Arias will be the “Main Event” of the free undercard streaming live on YouTube before the Pay-Per-View broadcast begins at 9pm.
Luis Arias, a naturally heavier opponent, is 19-3-1 (9) as a professional and debuted just 3 months before Williams in November of twenty-twelve.
“He’s been on a losing streak too,” says Williams.
Arias has lost three of his last five bouts, most recently he dropped a split decision to Vaughn Alexander in December of last year. Two of those bouts include a 12 round decision loss to middleweight Daniel Jacobs in twenty-seventeen and a 12 round draw with perennial middleweight tough guy, Gabriel Rosado in twenty-eighteen. No doubt, Williams faces one of the largest opponents of his career. But, despite fighting much his career at or around welterweight, Williams feels stronger and revivified at junior middleweight.
“The style match-up is unbelievable,” he says. “At `56 I’m going to be a lot stronger.” Williams was already in training for a March 21st fight in Mexico against Carlos Molina when the opportunity to fight on the Davis-Romero Pay-Per-View came up. “He’s going to be bigger but he’s gotta make the weight too…The first three rounds he’s gonna look to take my head off. He’s gonna try to break me down…I’ve gotta keep my defense…use my legs a lot.” Williams knows Arias will try to walk him down and looks to fight smarter than he has in past bouts where he’s been willing to through caution to the wind.
“But I’ll get in the ring with anybody. I’m my own worst enemy,” he laughs. “But now that you live and you learn in your career, it’s not necessarily about the money. It’s my legacy. I got my son coming up. No matter what i’ve gotta make it home to him.” Williams waves a gloved hand in the direction of his 4 year old son and training partner for this camp, Austin James Williams.
“He’s been my motivation this camp,” Williams says. Austin, separated only by seven minutes from twin brother Logan, is the boy after his Dad’s fistic heart. He’s got a genuine love for the sport of boxing.
“At his age I was doing other stuff but he’s all into it(boxing).” Austin has joined his father throughout this training camp and even watches fights of Luis Arias to help Dad study his style. “We go home and watch Luis (Arias) until we fall asleep. We have fun watching it. We’ve watched Luis fight Danny Jacobs, Luke Keeler, Vaughn Alexander, and Gabriel Rosado.”
Manager Tommy Smalls, who’s been with Williams since the victory over Foreman, feels confident in his charge’s conditioning. “The guy is a consummate professional…That’s what you want, a person that’s gonna take this seriously.” Smalls describes boxing as the “hurt business” and no matter what will be with Williams every step of the way this Saturday night. “Jimmy Williams is more than just a boxer. He’s a man, he’s got a family.”
“I look at this like it’s God’s timing,” Williams says. “Whatever happens Saturday night I’m gonna give it my all.” Jimmy Williams shoots another jab at the heavy-bag, rolls left, cracks it with a left hook. He’s thinking about Luis Arias.
“He’s in a must-win situation. I’m in a must-win situation,” Williams grins. “It’s gonna be a helluva fight.”