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Rapid Reaction: Williams rallies for TKO

Less than one full month into 2014, it looks like we have ourselves one heck of a candidate for round of the year.

Unbeaten light heavyweight prospect Thomas Williams survived a flash knockdown and scored a pair of his own before finishing Cornelius White by first-round TKO at the Little Creek Casino in Shelton, Wash.

Williams (16-0, 11 KOs) landed the first significant punch of the fight 25 seconds in and floored White, who was one fight removed from a knockout loss to light heavyweight titlist Sergey Kovalev, with a straight left hand.

But just as Williams continued pouring it on, hurting White a second time with a combination upstairs, he got caught with his hands down. White (21-3, 16 KOs) landed a short left hook and knocked Williams down.

"He caught me with a punch -- it happens," Williams said. "It was my first time down in my career. But what matters most is what happens after that."

Williams, 26, got up off the canvas to hurt White and drop him for the second time in the round. White was wobbly after regaining his feet, but was allowed to continue by referee Bobby Howard.

It wasn't long, however, before White was in trouble again, causing Howard to wave it off at 2:49 as Williams unloaded in the corner.

"I wasn't hurt at all. I was more stunned and probably embarrassed than anything,” Williams said of the knockdown. "I believe [the victory] is going to put me closer [to a title shot]. I think by me making a statement after 15 fights and stopping him in the first round, I think that makes a big statement."

Key moment: It didn't take Williams long to steal White's thunder moments after suffering his first knockdown. The southpaw rallied to hurt White with a straight left hand and followed it up with a right hook that sent him to the canvas in what proved to be the beginning of the end.

Final word: Williams did well to bounce back from adversity in what was expected to be the toughest test of his young career. The final verdict, however, remained inconclusive because of how poorly White proved able to absorb punches of any force. White, 32, who was floored by the first legitimate punch Williams landed, suffered his third knockout defeat within three rounds. But whether or not Williams' victory helps give him the push he desires toward a title shot in the near future, he combined with White to provide a memorable 89 seconds of drama.