Skelton V Williams: It could go anyway

21.02.06 - By James Allan: The last time that I wrote a piece that featured Danny Williams, I was predicting that Audley Harrison would beat him and set himself up for a World Title shot. Taking that into consideration, I am wary of predicting a winner for this Saturday’s match for the British and Commonwealth Heavyweight title between Danny and Matt Skelton..

On paper, I would have Danny Williams as the slight favourite to win this one. He has fought marginally better opposition than Matt Skelton, he has a fairly decent chin and he also carries knockout power. He has also got a suspect temperament; I’m not saying heart, as he has shown on several occasions that he has courage. He has lost four fights in total, and two of them have entailed heavy punishment. Julius Francis and Michael Sprott are decent fighters, but nothing special, certainly not the calibre of fighters that Danny should be having trouble with, especially not with Sprott, a man he had knocked out in the 7th round in their first fight, and in the 5th round, albeit in controversial circumstances, in their second fight.

Sinan Samil Sam has been exposed whenever he has moved up in class, yet he bounced Danny all over the ring in their European title fight. The only fight that Danny has lost and that I expected him to lose was when he faced Vitali Klitschko for the WBC title. Klitschko was an underrated champion, the best of the current crop of Heavyweight claimants. He hit Danny with almost every shot in his arsenal on route to stopping him in the eighth round in what was Klitchkos’ last and probably one of his best performances. Danny has also had some excellent wins in between these losses. He knocked out Mark Potter in the sixth round in a British Title fight, despite dislocating his right shoulder early in the match-up.

A one round blowout of Kali Meehan in a Commonwealth title fight. A four round KO of Mike Tyson in what was supposed to be a routine comeback victory for Mike, and his well-deserved victory over Audley Harrison in his last outing. The last two victories have been significant for Danny for different reasons. The Tyson victory not only gave him increased exposure and a marketable scalp to his credit, it also seemed to instil some belief in his own abilities in him. Tyson was a completely shot fighter by the time he faced Danny but he still carried his fearsome power with him, Danny refused to be intimidated by Tyson and he knew that he could beat him. After getting through a torrid first round, it was only a matter of time, given how much Tyson had fallen, before he took him out. The Audley Harrison victory brought him back into the big time again after he seemed to be on his way out of the sport when he pulled out of a fight against Skelton at less than a day’s notice back in July 2005. It was a terrible fight, made that way almost exclusively by Audley and his appalling lack of effort, but Danny deservedly won it despite looking out of shape and being wobbled in the 11th and 12th rounds. He could have, and if he had been in better shape, probably would have knocked Audley out in the 10th round. This victory set Danny up for a match with Skelton and the winner of this one could realistically be looking at a World title shot later on in the year, with the name of WBA champion Nikolay Valuev being mentioned as the most likely opponent.

Matt Skelton however, will be a completely different proposition from Audley. While not having the same level of skills that Audley Harrison has, he does have qualities that Audley lacks, fitness, determination, heart and he is prepared to get hit in order to land his own shots. He isn’t pretty to watch but he is effective and while not possessing one punch knockout power, he is fairly heavy handed and with his come forward style lands enough shots to eventually break down his opponents. Skelton started his fighting career on the K1 martial arts circuit, a sport I don’t know too much about, but where he seemed to be very successful, winning several titles. He had his pro debut at 35 and in just over three years has racked up 18 straight victories, 17 by KO. His career has been far less dramatic than Danny’s has with none of the high and low points that seemed to come thick and fast at Williams’. He has been a busy fighter, facing some reasonable quality opposition and he has squared off against several former Danny Williams opponents including Ratko Draskovic, Antoine Palatis, Bob Mirovic, Michael Sprott who he KO’d in the last round of their fight and Julius Francis who is the only man to go the distance with him. All of this suggests that he is a decent but relatively untested fighter and that there doesn’t seem to be too much between them. Matt always looks in shape and well prepared to go the full distance and this is where I think the fight could well be won and lost.

Danny Williams is a knockout puncher and Matt hasn’t faced someone who could really hurt him. If Danny comes into the ring motivated and in good condition he is more than capable of stopping Matt. If on the other hand Danny comes in looking as out of shape as he did against Audley Harrison it could be a long night for him, as you can be sure that Skelton will be in fantastic condition, capable of lasting the full distance and keeping Danny within range all the way through the fight. Danny weighed 19 stone 6lbs (272lbs) against Audley, 19 stone 2lbs (268lbs) against Klitschko and 18 stone 13lbs (265lbs) against Tyson, far too heavy on all three occasions for a man who is only 6ft 1”. In comparison, Skelton who is 6ft 3” will probably weigh in around the 18 stone 2lbs mark (254lbs). I have heard that Danny is planning at coming in around the 18 stone 10 lbs (262lbs) mark against Matt and if this is true, I would be tempted to go down to my nearest bookmakers and put my money on Skelton. If however he weighs in at around 18 stone (252lbs), I would fancy him to win. I think that the extra weight Danny carries affects his manoeuvrability and his stamina, two things he will need if he is to get past Skelton. These two fighters will, to all intents and purposes, be putting their future careers on the line in this fight. It is hard to see where either of them can go if they lose this one. At 39 age is against Matt Skelton. A defeat here would set him back many months and at his age he can’t afford to be left on the sidelines for any length of time. A defeat for Danny leaves him with no realistic fights ready to be made for him, after beating Tyson, fighting Klitschko for a World title and ending Audley Harrison’s unbeaten run, will he be willing to box on, knowing that he will probably have to travel in order to secure major fights and the problems that facing foreign opponents in their own country brings with it.

This fight is a watershed for both of them and with the possible prize looming in front of both of them, I would hope and indeed I am sure we will see a better match-up than we did in Danny’s last outing.

Article posted on 21.02.2006

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