DaVarryl Williamson: "I'll keeping hitting the target until it's not there"

29.05.04 - By Joe Rein - DaVarryl Williamson must have been one of those chased by high school coaches as soon as they saw him: “Son, d’you ever think about basketball, football, track…?” He has athlete written all over him -- legs to the ceiling, no waist, shoulders that blot out most of the room, and he covers ground with each step like a giraffe.

A fighter wouldn’t come to mind first; there’s a gentleness about his face and his manner. But, one look at the size of his hands and you know you’d hate to have them clenched and hit you.

I was introduced to DaVarryl and his wife, Shalifa – who’s hand he never stopped holding -- at the recent Pacquiao-Marquez fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Q: Was part of the problem with the Mesi fight that you’d beaten him decisively several times in the amateurs, and took him lightly?

DW: Exactly! Precisely! I’d been in the ring with Joe so many times…and I know he’d gotten better, but I just didn’t think in his best day he could beat me.

Q: How tough was that loss for you to take?

DW: It was a tough pill to swallow. I didn’t get a chance to get out of the first round to re-group myself. I paid dearly.

Q: The first question that’s asked about you now is: Do you have the constitution to take heavyweight punches?

DW: Absolutely! You’re gonna get hit in this game, and I’ve been hit by a number of big guys and was still able to rebound from that and go out and beat a guy.

Q: Does it matter so much if a guy is a big puncher? Or is the real danger the one you don’t see?

DW: It’s not just dangerous for me but everyone else. It’s the element of surprise. It’s not the punches that you see, because you can tense up, you can brace yourself.

Q: What did you and your wife discuss after that fight?

DW: We put our heads together. She said ‘Sweetie, I believe in you, but we can’t have anymore hiccups like that…I’m not saying it’s OK to lose, but not like that. It’s not good for your health. You don’t want to take those kind’a punches. You didn’t do some of the things we know we can do.’

The boxing fans didn’t see DaVarryl…That wasn’t DaVarryl! Had that been The DaVarryl…and I lost miserably like that…we’d really have to contemplate on something different. Once the real DaVarryl shows up, he’s a handful to deal with.

Q: Did you find out who the fair-weather friends were after the Mesi loss?

DW: We didn’t have any of that…Of course, we trimmed the fat.

Q: Were your business relationships shaken, and did you find out who was truly in your corner?

DW: Joe, we, in our hearts, really know it’s OK to be in a business relationship. We’re not necessarily falling in love with managers, promoters, etc, etc, etc. We understand it’s a business to those guys. They were there before I got into boxing; they’ll be there afterward. See, we just use the synergy affect with them, plus myself equals lots of money and fame and all the good things that come with that.

Q: With your right hand, do you always feel with one shot you can turn it all around?

DW: Joe, I would have to agree with you. I feel at anytime that I’m able to put my hands on you – whether it’s a left or a right hand –I do have a good chance of being a showstopper.

Q: How’d you get the nickname “Touch of Sleep?”

DW: When I was first an amateur, I was living off what I thought was a dangerous jab…but it wasn’t a jab at all…I took “DJ,” as “Dangerous Jab.” But, the problem was the right hand.

A very dear friend of mine, Lawrence Clay-Bey, he nicknamed me “Touch of Sleep” back in 1995, because we had probably over a 1000 rounds of sparring. ‘You’re calling yourself the wrong name, because you have the punch that puts somebody right to sleep.”

Q: As you were growing up, who were the fighters you looked up to and thought, “I want a jab like that?”

DW: Larry Holmes was definitely a jab you wanted to do a carbon copy to. He has one of the best jabs in the business. I wasn’t really a boxing fan, besides Sugar Ray Leonard. I didn’t start boxing until the age of 25. I just caught on to it, and one thing led to another. My heart really was in basketball, but I played football better. So, who knew that I’d box better than I played football?

Q: Where do you train?

DW: In Denver, Colorado, and the name of the gym is Touch’em up Boxing.

Q: Is it your gym? It sounds close to your nickname “Touch of Sleep?”

DW: There’s a little bit of a correlation there, but it’s not my gym. It’s a guy named Jose Rangel. He owns a tortilla factory – It’s called Tortilla Mexico – and he was kind enough to lend us space in his warehouse.

Q: You’re within a win or two of getting right back in the heavyweight picture. Can you get the kind of sparring partners you need where you are?

DW: The thing is: I love Denver. I love the high altitude here. I love my family lifestyle. I don’t drink or smoke or party or do drugs, or anything like that. My body is like a 23-year-old. It’s a very healthy environment. If I need different sparring, I’ll fly guys in that are specific to whomever I’m fighting. For Elieser Castillo, the southpaw, I sparred with Chris Byrd, a heavyweight champion of the world. Do you get any better southpaws than him? He’s slick as an oilcan.

Q: You defend your NABF title against Ray Mercer on June 8. What challenge does he offer?

DW: He offers a huge name. Everyone knows Ray Mercer. He may be 43-years-old, but at least they’ve heard of him. Everyone didn’t hear of Elieser Castillo…although he was NABF Heavyweight Champion. Mercer brings notoriety. He fought Larry Holmes, he fought Lennox Lewis. I can’t tell you anyone else I fought that fought Tommy Morrison and Tim Witherspoon.

Q: What’s your approach to Mercer?

DW: He’s not the fighter he was five years ago; and I think this is a good test for me, rebuilding, in terms of status. I’m on the way up and he’s on the way out. It will be a tremendously exciting fight…as long as it will last. Get the win and move on…it definitely would be a wonderful confidence builder moving up the ladder in the heavyweight division.

Q: Knowing Mercer has a strong jab, do you have a specific plan or do you see what you get and adjust to it?

DW: I think what you see is what you get with him. His reputation precedes him. He’s gonna be tough, he’s gonna be durable, he’s gonna have a good jab, a good one-two. You’re not gonna have to send a search party for him; he’s gonna be right there. I will continue to hit the target until it’s no longer there.

Article posted on 29.05.2004

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