BOXING: HE may have missed out on a medal on his England debut at the World Youth Boxing Championships in Russia, but Leamington’s Lewis Williams is determined to remain focussed on the bigger picture.
The 18-year-old flew out to St Petersburg at the beginning of last week for the ten-day tournament and represented his country for the first time in the 91kg category.
Williams made an impressive start by winning his first two fights inside the Sibur Arena but lost out to Shokhruz Rakhimov of Uzbekistan to narrowly miss out on a medal.
The Leamington boxer was disappointed to come home empty handed but he is determined to bounce back and the Russian experience with the national squad has made the teenager hungry for more success.
“It was an honour to fight for my country and I set myself a target of coming home with a medal,” Williams told the Observer.
“It was frustrating because I think I could have beaten all of the lads that went through. I wanted a medal and that would have set me up nicely for a chance at the Great Britain squad next year.
“It was eye opening for me because I came within just one round of winning medal on my England debut and that would have put me on the GB path sooner but it wasn’t to be.
“I thought it was amazing place to box. The arena held 7,000 people and it was just a great experience to fight in that environment and in the bigger Olympic-sized rings too.”
Despite not having any experience of fighting on the international stage, Williams showed no fear as he made easy work of Turkish fighter Murat Aydin by a TKO before beating Australian Damien Vaughan by a split decision.
But despite showing plenty of skill and fast hands, the Clearys boxer lost out to Rakhimov although he was awarded the contest by one judge.
“I wasn’t nervous before any of my fights,” Williams continued. “I knew the first clash was against a guy not out of my league and when I got into the ring it was just business as usual.
“It was nice to get that first win because nobody wants to go out in the first round. I was actually a little bit annoyed that it got stopped by TKO because I was just getting into my rhythm.
“The Australian ended up being another tough fight and I had to adapt a bit more.
“In the third round I lost on a split decision but I think if I worked on my footwork a bit more I could have beaten him. I don’t think the ref was on my side as I kept getting knocked to the back of my head and he was holding a lot.
“I’m dead annoyed that I lost but I was told my someone high up in the England setup that my size is a rarity and someone will take notice of me”
Over 400 boxers from 75 countries fought over ten days in Russia and Williams, who was selected after impressing during a series of England assessment camps, enjoyed every minute of his first taste of international experience.
“I was one of the new lads in the team but you get to know everyone pretty quickly and you start supporting other boxers in the team.
“It was enjoyable and it was an amazing place but I knew when it was time for business.
“I wasn’t on the training camps to make friends. I was there to train and make myself better and learn for the experience. It was all business for me.”
There will be no rest for Williams over the Christmas break and into the new year. As well as England training camps, Williams has his sights firmly set on a GB call-up and winning the senior ABA Championships will stand him in good stead.
He added: “I want to be on that big stage again because I feel like I belong there.
“The aim is to win the ABA next year and go toe-to-toe with a whole new class of guys. I won’t know much about them but I’ve got to make a name for myself and make a breakthrough.
“Winning the senior ABAs is a big opener, there will be scouts from the semi-final stage so I have to make sure I’m in the right place to get spotted and I’ll make sure I’m ready.”