STEVE WILLIAMS admits he may quit boxing if he loses out to British champion Darren Hamilton.
The ‘Wallasey Express’ heads to Liverpool’s Echo Arena on Saturday for his second shot at the light-welterweight title.
Williams has endured a luckless past 12 months after fights with domestic champions Ashley Theophane and Hamilton fell through because of injury, illness and other factors outside of his control.
Since winning a final eliminator in December 2011, Williams has fought just once – a gruelling 12 round points win over Kirk Goodings in late November – but at the Echo Arena this weekend he gets his shot at Hamilton (12-2).
However, Williams – who lost out to champion Lenny Daws in July 2010 - says the trials of the past year have made him realise that it is now or never.
“I have thought about walking away from the sport over the last 12 months,” he said.
“In the past year I’ve had a few injuries, the fights have been on and off and I’ve not got a sponsor to pay me whilst I train, so I’ve not been earning any money. I have thought about spewing it.
“I’m relieved that it’s finally here but I am looking at it as my last chance.
“The television commentators always seem to say it’s last chance saloon every time I fight, but this one really is.
“If I get beat then it’s a long way back to title level and with me not working, I have got to be at title level to be earning money.”
It is a grim, often unseen, reality of life of a professional boxer operating at this level.
“My girlfriend works and my parents help me out in between fights but it’s getting to the point where I’m fighting to pay off debts,” he added.
“So hopefully I’ll be keeping a bit busier this year.”
Hamilton’s journey from Area title level to being British champion in the space of a few months is a remarkable one.
Stepping in as a late replacement, he unexpectedly defeated Knowsley’s John Watson over eight rounds in March last year before repeating the trick less than four weeks later.
Only this time he took the place of a sick Williams in the British title fight with Theophane at Aintree and shocked the champion.
“I’ve watched his last two fights and straight after he beat John Watson I went back to my trainer Dave Tonks and said ‘he’ll do for me’” said Williams (13-1), who is trained by Dave Tonks.
“When I had to pull out against Theophane, he stepped in and though I thought he would get beat, he won the fight.
“But I’m confident that I can beat him. It was a slow pace the night he boxed Theophane and even though I was ill, I still felt I probably could’ve boxed at that pace.
“I’ve just got to set the pace high and make him work hard on Saturday night.
“He looks like he’s got a good jab on him but he does like to control the pace. And the people I’ve seen him box have stood off and let him control the pace. I won’t let him do that, I will put the pressure on and it’s all about seeing what he’s like under pressure.
“I’m always going to be a pressure fighter.”
TICKETS for Saturday night’s show, headlined by David Price’s latest heavyweight contest, are available from Williams. You can contact him on Twitter by searching for @1StevieWilliams.