Klitschko-Williams: Will the genial Englishman implode yet again?

10.12.04 - By Matthew Hurley: Danny Williams was not supposed to be Vitali Klitschko's first defense of his WBC heavyweight title. Going into his fight against Mike Tyson, Williams was looked upon by most pundits as a sacrificial lamb for Tyson's latest and most probably last run at a title shot. However, some insiders felt that if Williams, a big, athletic heavyweight with decent boxing skills, could turn out to be a live underdog if he kept his emotions in check.. Williams, a fighter with a penchant for breaking down in tears both before and after bouts did indeed remain focused and in control of his anxieties, weathered Tyson's initial onslaught and knocked the former champion out in the fourth round. It was a performance that nixed Vitali's hoped for match with Mike and produced this unlikely showdown.

When these two hulking heavyweights step into the ring on December 11th the potential for an action packed bout is great. Yet, its worth as a high priced pay per view event is debatable (but we'll leave that up to the subscribers). The fact is, there aren't that many attractive heavyweight match ups out there. Don King's recent four bout marathon, with two belts on the line, simply proved how mediocre the division is.

Heavyweight boxing is dying for a potential star to step up to the plate and clean out the division. Many, including Ring Magazine which bequeathed its title belt upon him, believe or is at least hoping, that Klitschko is that man. He's big, strong, charismatic and is eager to take over where retired champion Lennox Lewis left off. He's also awkward, prone to cuts and, being so big (6' 8", 250 lbs.) may be lacking in the stamina department. Williams, for all his faults and past poor performances does not lack for stamina and he can punch. He also possesses a sturdy chin, as the Tyson fight proved. His plan is to take Klitschko into the deep waters of the bout and drown him.

"Stamina will win this for us," his trainer Jim McDonnell says confidently. "Danny is an athlete… we'll set a pace Klitschko cannot match."

Vitali quietly scoffs at that notion, preferring to talk in glowing terms about the fight's potential for fireworks and his respect for his opponent.

"I can punch hard for all twelve rounds," he counters, pointing out that he battled evenly with Lewis and stopped Corrie Sanders, Larry Donald, Obed Sullivan and Vaughn Bean in the later rounds.

His straight up, herky-jerky style and his economical approach to his punch output is at first somewhat unpleasant to watch. But it works and when he has an opponent hurt he unleashes powerful right hands with a long range sharp shooters precision. Compare his style with his more aesthetically pleasing, technically proficient brother Wladimir and one would think, as most once did, that little brother was the better fighter. But not only do styles make fights, a fighters particular style and his approach to his craft makes the fighter. Vitali is successful because his style suits him, and that style, with his head held way back and his arms outstretched should be too much for Williams to overcome. Remember, Williams may have beaten a shop worn, yet still hard hitting Mike Tyson, but Tyson also injured his left leg in the first round and, more egregiously, Danny has lost bouts to Julius Francis, Samil Sam and Michael Sprott; not exactly a "murderer's row."

In spite of both fighters shortcomings, it is Danny Williams who remains the bigger question mark. He had nothing to lose against Tyson and being a 9 to 1 underdog suited his fragile mentality. He approached the bout unfazed because he was supposed to lose. Now he is fighting for an actual title belt against a bigger fighter who is surging with confidence. Will the genial Englishman implode yet again? The feeling here is yes, but he should produce a few scares for the Ukrainian giant. And with recent political unrest in his home country occupying Klitschko's mind there is an open window for Williams to climb through and steal away with a victory. But don't count on it.

Prediction: Vitali Klitschko TKO 7 Danny Williams

Article posted on 10.12.2004

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