Danny Williams, the last chance awaits him

07.08.06 - By Andy Olsen: We all have our favourites, whether we are avid followers, casual fans, or boxing writers. Yours truly is no exception. I had my dabble in the amateur ranks when Danny Williams turned pro. Hailing from the North East of England, being 5’9, fighting at 135, and from a stable middle-class background can explain Why Williams is one of said favourites. He was a 6’2, 240 lb colossus from the mean streets of Brixton, in South East London. The explanation is of course that opposites attract..

Very few fighters frustrate like their fans like Danny does. It took a braver fan then me to suggest he had a chance against Mike Tyson when they met in July 2004. In the build up, everyone was so quick to point out his shortcomings over recent years. And we could not have dismissed them; on the grounds they didn’t make any sense. By that time he had lost to Julius Francis (who afterwards was overwhelmed in 2 by Iron Mike), Sinan Samil Sam (European level fighter, who probably won’t get any further), and the Michael Sprott trilogy, where he won two, but neither victory was convincing (one of course being highly controversial).

It could have been oh so different for Tyson. The first round uppercut that he rocked Danny with would, in my opinion, have flattened most heavyweights. It would have been he who got the shot at Vitali, not Danny. However Danny brushed it off, and stood up to Tyson. He pummelled Tyson into submission with a barrage of punches at the end of the forth. Shell of Tyson perhaps, but the mindset Danny carried into that fight is one he needs, desperately, to recapture two years on.

Sure, Vitali was a fight he couldn’t win. But his heart was again on show, as he took a terrible beating that night. He was stopped after 8 of the most horribly one sided rounds you could witness in a title fight. He returned to a more realistic level, to challenge Matt Skelton, for the British and Commonwealth title he once proudly held.

I’m sure you know the tale; Danny weighed in at over 280 lbs, and then pulled out on the morning of the fight. Skelton said what many were thinking, that Danny had “bottled it”. Personally I am unconvinced. He didn’t bottle Tyson or Kiltschko now did he? And wasn’t this the guy who knocked out Mark Potter with a left hand, after dislocating the right shoulder previously in the fight? He doesn’t seem like a bottler to me. But the circumstances involved in this late withdrawal did boxing no good at all, and that much we do know.

Unfortunately, Danny has since continued to frustrate. His win over Audley Harrison, in December 2005, exposed his opponents’ major shortcoming, his lack of heart. Audley got slated more then Danny got credited, and rightly so, the whole thing was a dreadful affair. But the fight with Skelton finally happened on the 25th of February. Skelton, we were led to believe, stood between Danny and a shot at a version of the world title.

Danny came in for the fight at 266. That was still too heavy. He got the decision over Skelton, in a fight that will be best be remembered for the butting and mauling Skelton did throughout the contest. But Danny prevailed in a tight contest. He had the decency to admit to eating “too much Mr. Kipling” (a well known cake company in Britain) in the build up to the fight. The crack at WBA champ Nicolay Valuev (who is widely regarded as eminently more beatable then Vitali was) didn’t occur. So he chose to fight Skelton again.

At first, Williams deserved credit. There were much easier fights out there, but he decided to give Skelton a crack at the Commonwealth title he had relieved him of in Feb. And he admitted he wasn’t in the best possible shape for the first fight. So he would come in a better shape for this one we were led to believe.

We heard that Danny’s preparations involved an oxygen tent, to improve his stamina we were led to believe. At the weigh in, it became clear that the tent was in place of other, harder, more affective training methods. He took to the scales at a career heavy 288 lbs. As soon as the weight was announced, many changed their predictions of a Williams victory for the fight. No way could this excess weight be anything but a hindrance.

Of course, the weight led to a terrible performance from Danny, with Skelton doing his work, and then being able to get away from Williams before Danny could tee off with shots of his own. Skelton avenged his only loss, with many claiming Danny has blown it, for good this time. Perhaps this is a bit harsh on Matt, who had a plan and followed through with it. Indeed, he fought very well, the movement he utilised meant Williams couldn’t get off with his power shots, and he showed us all he isn’t as limited as once thought. But we have to remember he was just given a huge assist by the (lack of) preparation that his opponent put in.

I’m not giving up on Danny. He has the third fight with Skelton coming up, and for mine it will be decided long before the first bell rings. This is his last chance, and he needs to train accordingly. A loss to Matt and his world title dreams are forever lost. Training properly will probably mean he will have too much for Skelton, and the world title shot is then a possibility again. One more reason why Danny is one of my favourites, he is such a nice guy. Nice guys can finish first, they just need to eat well, train hard, and avoid shortcuts, such as oxygen tents. Oh, and try and recapture that state of mind in and around the Tyson fight. That Danny Williams has to make a return, in order to rectify the damage the recent one has done to his career since.

Article posted on 07.08.2006

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