THERE cannot be a boxing fan this weekend who isn’t looking forward to the rematch between super-welterweight rivals Liam Smith and Liam Williams.
Newcastle’s Metro Arena will be at boiling point from the second the pair step between the ropes and Smith delivers his trademark smile-come-snarl in the direction of the Welshman.
The arguments will rage over the Smith’s controversial ninth round win when trainer Gary Lockett pulled out Williams following a clash of heads in Manchester back in April.
What nobody can argue is that Williams was ahead on all three judges’ cards and Smith was in the ascendency after a sluggish start.
Claims from both camps up for debate are, would Williams have won on points? Would Smith have grind the Welshman down in the final nine minutes? Were butts from both men deliberate?
Nobody truly knows what the outcome will have been and promoter Frank Warren must be praying there is no controversy this time around.
Even if you ignore the confidence of both camps, for each fan tipping Smith to win again, you’ll find someone who believes that Williams will leave the ring believing justice has been done.
Their fight isn’t in the mainstream as much as Chris Eubank v Nigel Benn and Carl Froch v George Groves, but it carries just as much needle and intrigue.
When their first fight was announced at a press conference in the splendour of Liverpool’s Royal Liver Building on February 13th, there was little bad blood.
I can recall Williams saying how he quite liked his scouse rival as a person and that his trainer Gary Lockett was friendly with the Smith’s dad, Paul Sr.
272 days will have passed from their initial press conference ahead of their first encounter to when the first bell rings on their rematch this Saturday night and the ill-feeling has become real and nasty.
The first fight was edgy in the build-up, but Smith panning Lockett and Williams for what he believes was quitting sparked a lot of bad blood.
Last week it was even alleged that Smith’s trainer Joe Gallagher had reported Williams to the British Boxing Board of Control for comments made on Twitter.
Gallagher loves mind games and even claimed last week that Williams would run in the rematch and try to steal the fight.
Both men are experienced, faced adversities in and out of the ring, so there can be no sympathy if one loses his cool this weekend over what has been said in the build-up.
There will be a handshake at the end, but the rift is deep and it’s unlikely that the pair will be sharing a beer afterwards or in the immediate future.
Expectations that the feuding pair will deliver another barnstormer is growing with each moment that ticks towards the first bell, and I’m convinced they will not disappoint.
You cannot beat a genuine, fierce domestic rivalry. People are talking about who they believe will win, the fight will trend on Twitter.
The fact that the winner will earn a crack at the WBO World Title is an afterthought, because settling their differences once and for all is more important to both and their fans.
That is all you need to know ahead of 36 minutes this one match that won’t just be a fight it’ll be one to remember.