There's disruption and then there's the emotional toll of coping with grief.
How Sherman Williams deals with the recent deaths of his mother and mother-in-law could, ultimately, determine the outcome of his fight with Joseph Parker in Auckland on October 16.
Twice in the past two months, Williams, the Florida-based Bahamian with a 36-13 record, ventured back to his island homeland for separate funerals.
"I've had some personal set-backs," he told Sunday News this week. "I lost my mum about a month ago. She had a heart attack and passed away in the Bahamas. A month before that I lost my mother-in-law."
Williams' mother was 61-years-old when, after two weeks in hospital, she died of a heart attack and stroke. Naturally it's been a struggle but as a man of faith he adopts a philosophical approach.
"It is one of those passages everyone has to go through. The last time I saw her everything was fine. She was happy and healthy. It was just one of those unfortunate things that you can never prepare for. I believe God has a better place for her," he said. "Spiritually, I stayed strong. She's not here in body but she'll always be with me. That comforts me and keeps me focused.
"Death and loss is out of our control. There's nothing we can do. I wish I had her for a few more years but I've got to try to be the best I can be, in and out of the ring.
"Death in your family either makes you better or it makes you bitter. I'm determined to get better in every aspect in life and leave a lasting legacy."
And so the 41-year-old has thrown his efforts into preparing for Parker, the fast-rising Kiwi heavyweight he was scheduled to meet in Germany earlier this year before a dispute with the handlers of world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko.
Parker has since delivered knockout blows to Brian Minto and Keith Thompson to enhance his record to 10-0.
Comparatively, Williams hasn't fought for 11 months and lost two of his last four fights but he's confident American sparring partners Trevor Bryan (10-0) and Donnell Holmes (34-2) counteract his inactivity.
"Outside of the personal setbacks, I've been pressing on. I've been in the gym and don't feel like I've had any ring rust. My timing is getting back. October 16, I'll be more than ready to pull off the victory.
"I feel vindicated that the fight was able to be rescheduled after the nonsense that surrounded K2 promotions.
"Joseph is a great athlete. He's a good boxer and they're really moving him at a fast pace but he's nothing that I haven't seen before. He did what he needed to do. He's learning his craft. He has decent hand speed and boxing ability but my focus is on what I bring."
On paper, Williams appears another stepping stone with Parker's promoters promising a top 10 opponent by the end of the year.
Like Minto, Williams will give up eight centimetres in height and, if Parker can again use his big man weapons, he should be too classy.
Williams has, however, proven to be ultra durable, having been stopped only once in his 52-fight pro career.
"Chauncy Welliver saw me as a stepping stone and I took three titles off him in Asia," Williams said. "I'm coming to Auckland to beat down on Joseph, to win and to bring the titles back to the Bahamas.
"My power and my hand speed are proven. This isn't a fluke. If you look at the tape, I was rocking [Evander] Holyfield from pillar to post, with body shots, with head shots. I know my ability. That's something for the Parker camp to think about."
- Sunday News
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