By Derek Bonnett: East Hartford light welterweight prospect, Mykquan Williams, continues to show promise and make Connecticut fans proud. Williams, who will turn twenty next month, has entered his third year in the paid ranks and remained unbeaten through his first ten bouts. While each bout of a boxer’s early career is crucial, Williams’ team plans for a big 2018, which has already seen him score an impressive first round stoppage in New York last month. Guided by trainer Paul Cichon in the ring and Jackie Kallen on the business end, Williams has a wealth of support to move him along with success.
"I feel like I’ve grown all across the board since 2016," Williams stated. "There’s still a lot to learn, but I’ve definitely gotten better as a fighter. Going the distance made me realize that everyone isn’t going to get hit and go down though."
In 2017, Williams found himself going the six round distance back to back in two of his four bouts that year. His opponents Ariel Vasquez and Evincii Dixon, both veterans with a wealth of experience in the loss column, had previously gone the distance with rated opposition such as Adrian Granados and Thomas Lamanna along with numerous other rising prospects.
Cichon, who also trains Matt Remillard at lightweight, has been pleased with his fighter’s progress. He offered his own account of Williams’ development as a pro.
"As far as from his debut, Mykey’s much more composed; he’s faster, stronger, and he’s always willing to learn," Cichon assessed. "I’m looking for his hand and foot speed to start to separate him from the other prospects out there. This year we’re looking forward to stepping up and getting a youth belt. I think this will be Mykey’s coming out year."
Cichon has brought a young fighter through the ranks to title contention before. His work with Remillard, like Williams, began in their early youth. Cichon saw Remillard move from a four round kid to defeating a former world champion to an HBO date with Pound for Pound entrant Mikey Garcia. The Garcia bout remains Remillard’s lone loss and Cichon remains in his corner along the comeback trail.
Having Remillard in camp has been another asset Williams has been able to utilize in his development as a fighter. Having observed the two spar in the gym myself, there is no disparity in hunger between the two and a young fighter could learn a lot from a healthy push.
"We always critique one another and look for support from one another in between rounds while we aren’t sparring each other," Remillard shared. "We have our times when one of us is having a bad day and the sparring can get pretty intense, but he knows I wouldn’t try to hurt him and vice versa. Bad days happen in the gym and it’s important for him and also myself to realize that it’s always better to have a bad day in the gym than have it happen in a real fight. I think I’ll be able to really show him more when he steps up to 8-10-12 round fights."
A boxer’s take on a bad day varies from that of your average pedestrian observer. In the ring, a bad day has nothing to do with pain or blood loss as Williams and Remillard have spilled their fair share during their memorable sparring sessions. A bad day in the ring has more to do with what doesn’t happen, such as getting off punches, or an inability to adjust to what an opponent is presenting, like hand or foot speed. A feeling of being lost or in quicksand inside the ring can paralyze a boxer and lead him down the path of defeat.
"The main attribute [Williams] has is he’s a smart boxer; he never panics," Cichon credited his fighter. "Sparring every week with Matt Remillard is invaluable; he pressures Mykey and brings out the best in him. His strength and conditioning team at Iron Will Fitness Club and his new food prep from "Food Creations By Dina" will be an added plus."
In his latest effort, Williams matched a career high 146 pounds, but his young frame looked fuller and broader about the shoulders. At his age, his body still has some maturing as he moves toward his physical prime. His hands weren’t any slower and his power was not diminished as he hurt Preston Wilson to the body and outmuscled him on the inside. Williams stung Wilson to the body and finished him off along the ropes with a right hand. The encounter was brief, lasting 2:59 in total, but the rising prospect showed some "mean" tendencies as he attacked his opponent after hurting him to secure a strong finish.
One of the worst tendencies a young fighter can develop is letting his opponent off the hook once he is hurt. A hurt fighter needs to remain hurt and have his situation worsen in the eyes of the inflictor. Once an adversary has recovered, he has taken the first step toward getting himself back into the fight and one more step closer to a judges’ verdict.
"I think scoring in boxing can be tricky at times, not only in the pros either," Williams observed. "As far as its impact on my approach to victory, I believe the fighter that lands more punches should win the fight. Simple. But at the end of the day, it’s what the judges want to see also. So you need to control the action, have ring generalship, and just show the judges that you want to win."
In the twenty rounds of Williams’ four bouts that have gone the distance, he has only lost one of them on a single judge’s scorecard, so the young boxer is true to the notion of showing his desire to win. Cichon frequently emphasizes the art of hitting without being hit. Whether it’s pool noodles or Remillard’s fists, Williams is sure to hear Cichon hollering when he gets touched.
Many dangers a young fighter may face do not present themselves in a prize ring, but, rather, everywhere else. Many a boxer has succumbed to the rich taste of success, popularity, and losing control. Others fail to find avenues outside of boxing to fill their time. Sometimes fate intervenes as we saw with New Haven’s well-established super bantamweight Luis Rosa, who died from injuries sustained in an automobile accident in January.
"I’m always concerned about Matt and Mykey when I’m not around them," Cichon, a man who has overcome his own adversities, admitted. "My heart goes out to the Rosa family. Luis was a great kid. He accomplished a lot in and out of the ring. Mykey is a very mature young man. I’ve always told him ’it costs nothing to be a good person’ and he’s taken that with him outside the ring. He’s going to [Manchester Community Technical College] and studying business."
Williams’ growth as a fighter and a man includes learning how to be a role model. His upbringing has exposed him to the dangers of the street and his relationships have taught him to hold the things he values most dear.
"Before school started I donated book bags to kids that needed them," Williams said. "I see myself in the near future talking to high school or even middle school students and telling them my story. Also, whenever we get a new kid in our gym whenever I try to give them pointers on what they’re doing wrong, but the most important thing is helping my mom out if and when she needs something.
With the wealth of supporters guiding Williams, it is refreshing to see his desire to give back to those he cares about and those he can impact positively. In boxing and life, positive relationships are invaluable assets on the road to success. Williams has benefitted from his own and as he progresses up the ranks from prospect to champion, he will have the opportunity to come full circle and pay it forward.
Derek Bonnett has written for SecondsOut for ten years and is a member of the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board.