Unbeaten light heavyweight Thomas Williams Jr. isn't one to pull any punches in or out of the ring.
Williams (17-0, 12 KOs), 26, isn't afraid to alter his game plan mid-fight if the situation calls for him to stand firm and exchange heavy punches. It''s an exciting trait that hasn't gotten in the way of his success as the Fort Washington, Maryland native has continued to impress each time he has raised his level of competition.
He also isn't afraid to share his opinion when talking about his standing within the sport. In a division top-heavy with big-time power punchers, Williams is hoping to crash the party and not shy away from facing the very best.
Williams may very well get his chance if he can defeat former titlist Gabriel Campillo (23-6-1, 9 KOs) on Friday. The 12-round bout headlines a "Friday Night Fights" card (ESPN2, 9 p.m. ET) from the Little Creek Casino Resort in Shelton, Washington.
The fighter known as "Top Dog" recently spoke to ESPN.com just days ahead of the fight:
You have continued to impress in each of your steps up the ladder. How confident are you at this point in your career?
I'm very confident. It has been a great building process. My team has done a great job in getting me the right fights and having me step up at the right time, and I feel like it's all coming together. Friday is going to be another stepping stone towards a great career.
You have a big test against a well-known name in Campillo, but also a fighter not far removed from a series of tough defeats. What version of him are you expecting?
I know he's going to come [ready] to fight on Friday because a win puts him right back in the light heavyweight mix. So I expect him to be very hungry and very strong. I think he's going to be a great opponent for me at this stage.
What do you see in his style that you are going to have to adjust to or be leery of?
Everything. Anytime a man gets in the ring, I have to be able to adjust to him. But there is nothing specific that sticks out [with Campillo]. I've fought them all, from boxers to bangers. So I'm just going to have to come out and do what Thomas Williams knows how to do. And what Thomas Williams knows how to do is win.
What's the origin of your nickname "Top Dog?"
I got that from my dad [former heavyweight contender Thomas "Top Dawg" Williams Sr.]. I'm just taking it to the next level.
You had to get up off the canvas in January on FNF before stopping Cornelius White late in the first round. What did you learn about yourself from that experience?
It's not even just the Cornelius White fight; it's all of the fights that I have had. Every fight that I have, I want to learn from and get better. I was able to get up and finish him. Of course I want to learn from that. But it's not just that fight, it's every fight I have from here on out.
What was going on in your head after being knocked down against White?
It's kill or be killed. I told myself when I was getting up that I'll make it out of this round because we have a plan. Then when I got up, I told myself that they better throw the game plan out of the window because now it's a fight.
In your last fight, you stopped veteran Enrique Ornelas in three rounds. How would you assess your performance?
He showed me a lot of good things. In the second round, I believe I hurt him to the body. I heard him make a noise like he didn't like it too much. So I knew I was slowly breaking him down, and I went on to finish him.
How would you describe your fighting style?
I have always considered myself a boxer, but I haven't been able to show my skills like I want to because every time I get into a fight, these guys try to impose their will on me. And I'm not having it. So all the boxing I guess goes out the door, and I just want to show them that I'm here to stay. They are going to have to get up real early in the morning to beat me.
What's your take on the light heavyweight division as a whole?
I think it's a really good division. The top guys just have to fight the top guys. That's the only problem I have with the division. We're not fighting the top guys. The champions should be fighting the champions and there should be only one undisputed light heavyweight champion. I think we have maybe like three right now. I think the promoters need to make these guys fight each other so there can be really only one champion. I want to change that because I want to fight the best. I want to fight all of them.
Outside of yourself, who do you think is the best light heavyweight in the world?
Sergey Kovalev. And it's crazy because I don't think that much about him, but it's just that the public does. They think he's Godzilla, so I would like to fight him. They think he's a world beater. I don't really think that much about him. Yeah, he's strong. But he can't take a boxer. He can't take anyone who makes him take two steps to the right or two steps to the left. If you stand in front of him, of course anybody can knock you out with 10-ounce gloves on. I just want him because the public thinks he's the best.
What's your opinion of division champion Adonis Stevenson, who had to overcome a shaky stretch in his last title defense against Andrzej Fonfara?
Adonis Stevenson is another guy who is a strong puncher. If he can't hit you and knock you out, he pretty much gets frustrated and the game plan gets thrown out the window. But he is the champion, so you can't really take that much away from him. But I would love that fight, too. We are both with Al Haymon so I definitely can get that fight.
Above all else, what are you looking to show your fans and future opponents with your performance on Friday?
They are going to see a win, I know that. I'm not really going out there to try and show anything specifically, I'm just trying to get the job done. I don't try to crowd please, but people tell me that I crowd please. It's not like I aim to do that, but it just happens. Something just comes over me in the ring that brings out my aggressive style.