By Richard Hubbard
As Gary Corcoran prepares to make his first meaningful move in the welterweight division, there remains an itch he seriously wants to scratch, once and for all, in the 154lbs category.
The Hellraiser is like a new man. Mellow and reflective as he readies himself for his shot at the vacant WBO Intercontinental title at the Copper Box Arena on Saturday night, with the unbeaten Larry Ekundayo in opposition.
It is a new beginning for the relentless and marauding 26-year-old at a weight far more suited to his slender frame. But the single blot on his 16-1 card continues to gnaw away at him and he won’t be content until it has been countered.
Liam Williams is the man responsible for Corcoran’s only professional reverse. The two men, who never attempted to hide their mutual loathing, went at it hammer and tongs in Cardiff back in July of last year, with the Welshman eventually overwhelming the Wembley man in the 11th absorbing round.
From the moment the fight was confirmed, it quickly transformed into a grudge match between two fighters who barely knew each other. Williams expressed natural confidence on TV, Corcoran proceeded to turn it personal on Twitter and the prospect of a peaceful build-up headed quickly south.
“It was just one of them things, he said something on BoxNation on what he was going to do to me and it just kicked off from there,” recalled Corcoran.
“I said something back to him and the two of us went at it on Twitter, which is where it all started from.
“I stuck in a couple of low blows and there was no coming back from it. It will always be like that and we are never really going to like each other. Even to this day he doesn’t like me, but I don’t really care, it is one of them things.”
It is not a dislike of Williams or a nigh on 12-month grudge that fuels Corcoran’s desire to do it again. He just wants to set his record straight and prove that it was as much circumstances, as his opponent, that got the better of him on that raucous July night at the Ice Arena.
“I ain’t bothered, the thing about me is I just want to win. There will be hatred there when we do fight again. One hundred per cent I see it happening again, I will win this fight, move on and keep winning, then I think that fight will happen one day again.”
It later transpired that Corcoran was beset by a catalogue of painful mishaps that would’ve seen a less durable customer raise the white towel long before it was deemed he could take no more at the back end of the 11th.
A perforated eardrum in the opening three minutes that was seeping blood was the first thing to knock him out of his stride, before he suffered a fractured hand and then a gaping wound to the eye caused by a clash of heads probably told him it wasn’t going to be his night.
“He bust my eardrum with a kind of left hook slap into my ear and I remember it going ‘ding’ and thinking ‘what the heck happened there?’. I just got on with it and went back to my corner with blood coming out of my ear.
“My hand went in the third or fourth then he came out and split me with his head.
“I thought he (referee Terry O’Connor) was going to stop it because there was so much blood and there were two or three rounds with it running in my eye, although the doctor said it wasn’t.
“I thought ok, I am a tough man and I just get on with it. It was going into my eye, I kept trying to wipe it away and he was hitting me with double jabs. I think I lost two or three rounds straight because of trying to get the blood away from my eye.
“But I ain’t like Liam Williams. When you get a headbutt in the eye – get on with it.”
The painful setbacks drastically altered the dynamics of the fight and for Corcoran it became a matter of pride and attempting to see it through to the end, while all the time hoping he had a trick left in his book to somehow reverse the tide.
“It was about survival and I swear that if anyone had the injuries in the ring that I had, a lot of people would pull out quite quick. I thought I would get on and still try to nick it, although I knew I was still two or three rounds down when I got stopped.
“I was trying to pull something out of the hat, but it didn’t happen. If we fight again, it will be a different story.”
Next – Corcoran on the ‘madness’ of punching above his weight