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Best foot forward in boxing for Kyle Williams

Wolverhampton | Sport | Published:

Kyle Williams will be keeping his feet on the ground despite the former world kickboxing champion switching sports from kickboxing to pro boxing.

The 24-year-old is staying true to his roots despite his intentions to lace on the gloves and leave the foot pads behind,

writes Craig Birch.

That change will come to pass when he becomes a paid pugilist by night on Errol Johnson's Black Country Boxing bill at Walsall Town Hall on Saturday.

But, by day, Williams will continue to work as an instructor at Fran Zuccala's Eclipse Kickboxing & Gracie Jiu Jitsu Academy in Wolverhampton city centre.

The second dan black belt teaches children, teenagers and adults at the same venue where he learned his own skills under Zuccala's wing since the age of six.

He won the ICU world featherweight title in his former calling and was a contender for the ISKA European crown. Zuccala, 43, held the full ISKA light middleweight belt twice himself.

There's no fall-out between the two as they maintain a close relationship. Zuccala and many Eclipse members snapped up a bulk of the 100 tickets Williams has sold for his boxing bout.

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He said: "Fran has taught me all I need to know about being a success. If he believes anyone can do this, it's me.

Kyle Williams pictured with his haul from the kickboxing world after he won the world title in 2014.

"We were talking the other day and he told me that the best fighters don't just throw and take shots.

"He's instilled in me that it's also about mindset and the desire to win."

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The dream now for Williams, from Whitmore Reans, is to challenge at the same level in the sweet science as he did in kickboxing.

He will start his campaign down at super bantam, with his first test coming in a four-rounder against the experienced Anwar Alfadli.

The slugger from Sheffield will be taking part in his 64th pro contest and has failed to see the final bell on just four occasions.

But Williams is thinking big as he plots a major impact, pointing to recently-dethroned WBA 'super' world titlist Scott Quigg as an example of what can be achieved.

He said: "I'll be learning on the job, but I think my kickboxing background will actually hold me in good stead.

"I wasn't getting as many fights as I would have liked in kickboxing, after I won the world title (in November 2014) it seemed to dry up.

"I love to be in the ring, so I decided to go into boxing. I never really considered being an amateur first, I would have considered that a step back.

"There's been some successful kickboxers who haven't made it in the boxing world, but now we are starting to see some do well.

"Scott Quigg was a world champion at my weight and he used to be a kickboxer. He's still one of the men to beat in the division.

"Hopefully, I can emulate some of what he's achieved. I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't think I could go to the top.

"The British title is the minimum that I want to achieve, but I will be targeting the world champions in time. I fight to be the best."

He has been in Birmingham under the tutelage of Tyler Shakespeare, another to have made the change, to give him a leg up.

Williams said: "It's been quite easy for me to adapt, I haven't had much temptation to throw a leg. And, throughout my career, I've done sessions using just hands.

"My training hasn't been that much different, I've always been very regimented. Kickboxing just seems to be faster and more explosive.

"You can fill a lot of gaps with kicks and find more range, but you have to find space through movement to land punches.

"In boxing, you sit down on your punches and generate more power. My footwork was slow at the beginning, it's took time but it's coming now.

"The jab is quite a universal technique and it's used in kickboxing. Sometimes, we'd practice a whole hour on it.

"I like to take on the biggest challenge I can find and this was the best out there."

Tickets for Williams' fight, priced at £30 and £60 ringside, are still on sale from the Town Hall Box Office on 0845 111 2900.

Sponsors Grosvenor Casino Walsall, Bentley Mill Way, will host the weigh-in and after-show party. A number of free taxis from Yellow Taxis will at the Town Hall to go to the casino.

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