Everyone is entitled to their own stupid opinion. Here’s mine…
Matt Vanda (41-9 with 22 kayos) definitely has some assets going into Friday night’s fight with Phil Williams in Hinckley: He’s faster on his feet, he has tons more experience, he’s got the confidence that only comes from accomplishment, he is well coached, and he’s been punched more times without any evident result than 99.999% of people on this planet.
Vanda’s extensive list of past opponents isn’t exactly a “who’s who,” but it definitely shows what he’s made of – especially considering that in 50 professional fights, nine of them losses, Vanda has only been knocked out once, and that was from a busted eardrum. Vanda always seems to enter the ring fit and ready, and those with the benefit of a close vantage say that he seems as motivated and devoted to his craft now as ever.
Finally, Vanda has the benefit of a really excellent coach. World class he may or may not be, but Ron Lyke has the respect and admiration of many boxing industry professionals. Take it from one who has scrutinized his ring-demeanor closely: Lyke is calm and collected in the corner between rounds, and his advice to his fighters is always sensible and direct.
Phil Williams (11-1 with 10 kayos) has fewer advantages, but the ones he has are significant. Williams is the naturally bigger man, he has vaporizing power in both hands, and more than one person has reported to me after encountering Williams in the gym that Williams is sharper and more fit than ever before.
After fighting almost his entire career as a light heavyweight, Williams recently announced his intention to move down and campaign in the super middleweight division. For this fight Williams has agreed to a catchweight of 165#, which seems reasonable for him but definitely on the high side for his opponent.
Williams also has the benefit of knowing that this fight can either put him on the map or break him. How so? Because Williams’ signature win to date is a 7th-round TKO of formidable but undeniably faded veteran Antwun Echols. Vanda, in contrast to Echols, is at his peak. Vanda has also won his last two fights. So a win against Vanda would instantly double or triple Williams’ name recognition. The Drill well knows what this fight can do for him, and he is determined to ride the wave.
So who will win? I am convinced that despite his toughness and fitness, Vanda has just bitten off more than he can chew here. More than once we’ve heard that Vanda preferred to stick with the junior middleweight class, yet here he is taking a fight at 165#. The Predator has only fought at so high a weight once in his career, and though it was a win, it came against 19-15 Ted Muller, who had lost eight straight bouts going in. And though Vanda may move more deftly and have more ring savvy than the comparatively less experienced Williams, he isn’t that elusive. Williams only needs to catch Vanda once to stun him and then it’ll be all but over. I project that William will win by kayo some time between the start of the fourth and the end of the sixth.
And now for my weasel move: If Williams doesn’t catch Vanda by the end of the sixth, I think Williams’ chance for a win dries up into dust and blows away just like the notorious Brandon Burke did back in June of 2007. In that case, at the start of the seventh round you can change my prediction to Vanda win by any sort of decision. You see, the late rounds are Vanda’s territory, and I just can’t see Williams keeping up with him for ten long, grueling, activity-filled rounds.