Grading the Prospects from Saturday: Raymond Ford and Austin Williams
By George Goddiess – With most of the boxing world buzzing with excitement for the Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury fight, arguing over the scorecards of the Roman Gonzalez and Juan Francisco Estrada fight and mourning the loss of legend Marvin Hagler; the prospects have gone under the radar. The American Airlines Arena in Dallas, Texas hosted the anticipated main event between the aforementioned Gonzalez and Estrada and was backed up by a women’s undisputed welterweight championship fight that garnered most of the attention this weekend. The undercard featured two talented and young American southpaws looking to gain experience and shine in a return to semi-normal with fans in the stands. Both men ultimately were involved in entertaining eight-round fights that provided us more answers about where they stand as professional fighters.
Raymond Ford Jr. 8-0 4 KO’s of Camden, New Jersey made his debut on DAZN in 2019 and has gotten a good push from them these past twenty-four months. The undefeated featherweight appeared on The Ak and Barak Show leading up to this fight and he was provided with a substantial jump in class with his opponent. Ford was paired off with fellow undefeated prospect Aaron Perez out of Albuquerque, New Mexico who carried an undefeated record after ten fights with six knockouts. The contest pitted a twenty-one-year-old Ford against a twenty-three-year-old Perez with both having extensive amateur backgrounds and accomplishments at the national level. Neither fighter had reached the eighth round in their career with Ford reaching the seventh in his previous bout and Perez only the sixth though he had been six rounds four times to Ford’s two. This fight turned out to be an interesting clash of styles between the southpaw Ford and the orthodox Perez. After twenty-four minutes of boxing the fight was declared a draw.
Ford opened the contest effectively behind his jab as he took the center of the ring to control the action. Ford used his jab to pressure Perez back toward the corner but a right hook to the head backed him off and created space again. Ford pulled back and was hit with a right cross to the head but moments later came back with a straight left hand of his own. Ford found himself on the ropes and Perez worked to the head and body ineffectively before Ford landed a single left hand again to finish the round. Perez had a strong showing in the second and third rounds as he was able to corner and trap Ford and get off with combinations of his own. Ford made efforts to stand his ground and meet Perez with counters but he was loading up on his shots and neglecting his jab. Perez in the second scored well on a left hook to the head and left hook to the body. Ford attempted a counter left to the head and a right uppercut but both blows missed. Perez landed an effective left hook following the exchange and landed a solid right hand to the head as Ford pulled away. In the third Perez scored another solid right hand as Ford tried to back out of range and found himself trapped by a shoe shining Perez to close the round.
Round four started with a more composed Ford who opened up with two jabs and a cross before getting back behind his jab. A telling moment came a little later in the round when Perez got Ford pinned against the ropes only to have Ford rip two shots to the body with each hand and Perez took steps backwards. Perez went southpaw which appeared to be in response to the body shot and Ford made him pay with a sharp left hand down the middle to Perez’s face. Ford continued to press a fading Perez and stayed on the body. He countered with another left to the midsection and evaded the return blows to go back to the body with his right hand. In the fifth round Ford came out slowly and did not focus his attack to the body despite doing damage in the previous round. Despite the availability for the jab to become a weapon, Ford did not go back to the jab in the effective manner that he employed in the previous round. A tiring Perez got a reprieve in the fifth and lets his hands go as Ford languished in the corner to close the round. Perez did make a habit of trying to steal rounds which going by the official scorecards it appears he accomplished that goal.
Ford began the sixth round with confidence and back to his jab. Perez scored with a left hook but took two shots in return. Ford began to score with single shots as Perez continued to press and occasionally corner Ford. When he did have Ford trapped he let his hands go to the head and body but landed nothing devastating. The seventh round saw the best punch of the fight as Ford scored a hard left hand to the head and Perez buckled, Ford sensed he had his opponent in trouble and tried to capitalize. A hard clash of heads broke the action momentarily but just enough to allow Perez to get his bearing and make it to the bell. The final round was an exciting finish to a good fight as Perez summoned all he had left to press the action. It was Perez’s activity against Ford’s precision as the two traded to the final bell. Ford countered with single shots and tried to reestablish a body attack before the final bell sounded. At the conclusion of the contest the three judges were in complete disagreement as the decision was a split draw. Javier Martinez scored the fight 77-75 to Ford, Michael Mitchell had it 78-74 for Perez and Don Griffin had it tied up at 76-76.
Grading Ford: Ford is obviously a talented fighter with gifts in the speed and reflexes departments. His amateur pedigree is there to be seen in his counter punching and clean boxing style. He has a good gas tank as he made the eight round distance without any difficulty and looked like he could have went another six minutes to go ten rounds. He was very relaxed in the ring from his ring walk to his demeanor in the ring he looks comfortable in there. Ford, despite the background and the DAZN push is very much a work in progress. What he needs to work on is getting more consistent with his jab, getting more physical inside, and staying off the ropes and out of the corners. He made this fight a lot harder on himself by giving Perez a lot of moments especially later in several rounds where the judges were most likely swayed. He is only twenty-two and he is obviously going to get stronger which will likely solve the issues he had inside and when we can see him clinch and physically push opponents around we will see how far he can go. I think this was a good learning experience for him.
The scoring: I felt that Ford had done enough to win this fight; I scored the bout 77-75 for Ford so basically right in line with Javier Martinez. Mitchell’s 78-74 is very wide the other way and I would like to see the breakdown of the rounds he scored for Perez. If I had to guess he likely had rounds one, two, three, five, six, and eight for Perez. I do not find that to be a realistic scorecard for this contest but could concede that 76-76 is reasonable. What Perez may not have had in ring craft he certainly made up for in activity and closing rounds strong.
Grading Perez: I know I snubbed him by not featuring him in the title but he was a prospect on this card. He fought a good performance in holding Ford to a draw. He is a strong inside fighter and is able to impose his style up close. He was able to identify openings at mid range when Ford tried to back out of and he caught him several times clean in the opening three rounds. Despite tiring he sucked it up and dug in when it looked as though momentum was shifting. Any time Ford looked to create space between them, Perez came on strong and took advantage of every opportunity that was presented to him. While I know Ford will be back on DAZN I feel Perez did enough to earn another chance on the network and this fight should get a rematch.
Austin “Ammo” Williams won a decisive but hard fought decision against tough veteran middleweight Denis Douglin. Williams scored his eighth victory of his so far undefeated career and went the distance for the second time. Williams was matched tough despite being short notice the 22-7 14 KO’s Douglin entered with twelve years and twenty-nine fights worth of professional boxing experience. He was also the first southpaw that Williams had been paired with in his young career as a pro that began in 2019. Douglin entered with a wealth of experience having shared the ring with multiple champions in Jermell Charlo, George Groves, David Benavidez and Anthony Dirrel. Despite the jump up in class and first scheduled eight round contest, Williams came through with a unanimous decision in a strong showing.
Douglin had a good first round as he timed Williams coming in with his jab. Williams was aggressive early and focused his attack to the body but left his head exposed and was nailed with a solid right hook in the opening round. The second round saw more heated exchanges with Williams focusing again on the body. However, Williams left his legs straight and had his head above his gloves and was hit by another right hook upstairs. Williams responded well to being hit and scored with a left uppercut that lifted Douglin’s head back and with the space he sent a left hand down the middle that scored effectively. Williams scored a jab, cross combination before ripping a left to the body. Williams then pushed Douglin back in the clinch and prevented any follow up attack. Williams pressed in the third round and scored a clean one-two and again went back to the body. Williams opened up the arsenal with the uppercut to the head on the inside before attacking in short combinations. Douglin ended the round by digging a shot to the body of Williams.
Douglin opened the fourth round jabbing and moving forward as Williams showed some of his skills on the back foot evading the jabs. Williams began round five with another uppercut and then tied up and pushed Douglin to the ropes. Douglin scored a short left with his back to the ropes and scored a longer left down the middle with the space he created. It was Douglin’s best punch in a few rounds and he followed with a jab. Williams reversed the tide back in his favor with a right hook followed by an uppercut. Douglin again scored a big punch with his left cross and he snapped Williams’ head back. Williams responded with a fierce combination before the bell. Round six started off at a slower pace than the previous five rounds. William’s mouth began to hang open and his punch output started to decline and Douglin tried to work his way back into the fight. A lunging right hook by Williams sent Douglin staggering backwards before falling into Williams and clinching to stay on his feet. Williams tries to break free and then scores another lunging right hook that had Douglin in danger again. A rabbit punch causes a break in the action and a stern warning from referee Neal Young before Douglin throws three consecutive left hands to end the round though none scored effectively.
Round seven saw Douglin staggered again as Williams landed a solid uppercut that him in trouble. Douglin bounced backwards without his legs under him from one side of the ring to the other. Williams attacked quickly with both hands and it looked like the referee was going to wave the fight off before Douglin survived. Williams coasted a little in the final round and did not have Douglin hurt as he did in the previous two rounds. Williams scored two right hooks to the head to highlight the round before the final bell. Williams was awarded a unanimous decision with scores of Don Griffin 73-79 Javier Martinez 73-79 Michael Mitchell 75-77.
Grading Williams: Williams is only twenty-four years of age and began fighting at nineteen, he is a very inexperienced fighter. To take on Douglin in his eighth fight is very impressive. Williams came onto my radar back in January of 2020 when I wrote about win over Donald Sanchez on the undercard of JoJo Diaz against Tevin Farmer in Miami, Florida. It was good to see him against an experienced professional who was capable of surviving his power and taking him rounds. Williams is nicknamed “Ammo” due to his wide arsenal of punches and that punch variety was on display with his straight left, his right hooks and his left uppercuts. I really like that he looks to attack the body frequently. When he scored a combination to the head he often finished to the body or started his next attack to the body. His power remained effective against a tough veteran fighter. Sure he did not knock him out like Charlo did but Charlo is a proven world class puncher and Groves and Benavidez are larger than Williams. Williams did stagger Douglin badly in the sixth and the seventh rounds. I do think going the distance was a much more valuable experience that knocking out Denis Douglin, he only had seventeen total rounds heading into this fight so it was vital that he faced someone who could drag him the distance. Williams also proved his ability to take a punch in addition to understanding when to back off a hurt but still dangerous opponent. My criticisms are only in two areas where I have previously raised concerns and that is with his jab and his gas tank. Like Ford, Austin has an effective jab; the problem is he doesn’t use it. As he continues to climb the ladder and face more aggressive fighters or fighters less deterred by his power he will need to keep them at bay. He will also need the jab to mask his power punches as he steps up in class as well. I am not going as far as saying he has a stamina problem but his mouth was open as early as round five. Now Williams did get inside and physical with Douglin which would affect stamina but he did slow down in the final round and maybe he would have forced a stoppage if he was fresher in round seven. Finally, I liked Williams’ composure as Douglin did rabbit punch and hit on the break, Williams never let the fouls take him out of his game and he remained focused.
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