Former WBC light-heavyweight champion JB Williams, a man who says he was forced to move up to heavyweight so as to get fights, had an eventful career. A former marine, JB (“it stands for ‘Just Bad,'” the 64-year-old says with a chuckle), won the WBC light-heavyweight title but lost it – robbed. He says – in his first defence.
This fight was against Dennis Andries and Williamson – who finished with a 26-16(10) record – is adamant he was wronged in the fight of 35 years ago this year.
Here, an upbeat, almost manic Williamson speaks with Eastside Boxing:
Q: Firstly, what was your amateur career record?
JB Williamson: “I had 150 amateur fights, of which I lost 7. I could have tried to get myself a spot on the 1980 Olympic team, but I went pro instead in 1979. I needed the money coming out of The Marine Corp. I knew it was my destiny to become world champion.”
Q: Who was your first trainer?
JB W: “My first trainer was [Colin] Champ Chaney, who also trained the great Marvin Johnson.”
Q: And you started as a middleweight?
JB W: “Yes, I was a middleweight, but I outgrew that division and went to light-heavyweight. Then, I had to go up to heavyweight to get fights. I was so bad, they [the light-heavyweights] wouldn’t fight me. I had to fight a monster in George Foreman!”
Q: Your 1982 decision win over Murray Sutherland was a big win for you?
JB W: “Yes, that was a good win. That fight was so comfortable. It was like a glove on my hand. The same thing would have happened with [Dennis] Andries, but they drugged me and took my title.”
Q: You lost the WBC light-heavyweight title to Andries in your first defence. What happened in England (on April 30, 1986)?
JB W: “Me and half of my team, we came down with dysentery, food poisoning. They put stuff in my food. I know it. That fight was a total setup. Frank Warren had to get himself a world champion, so he could get going at the world level. Everything depended on him getting that win. That was their objective, to get the title, whatever means necessary. I was poisoned. I have no doubt about it. Even then, it was a split decision that should have gone to me. I wanted a rematch. I know I’d have knocked him out in a rematch, with me being healthy and not having to fight dysentery. That loss to Andries hurt me bad. I know I won nine of the 12 rounds. As a fighter, you calculate the rounds as they go by in a fight. A split decision over there [in the UK] that lets you know it’s a robbery.
“I had other options at the time; I could have fought Thomas Hearns instead of Andries, who wound up beating Andries. I’d have whupped Hearns. We sparred one time, but Emanuel Steward stopped the spar because I was getting to Hearns. Steward could see it, and he stopped the spar real quick.”
Q: Going back to when you won the WBC light-heavyweight title, with a decision win over Prince Mama Mohammed. How good was Mohammed?
JB W: “He was a staircase I had to climb to get where I was going. But that fight, they took it off YouTube, with no reason given. He [Mohammed] became president of his country or something in Ghana, and they took the fight down because they didn’t want anyone to see him lose. I beat him bad.”
Q: How did you come to fight George Foreman?
JB W: “Well, I took that fight for the money. I had three weeks’ notice for the fight, maybe four. I looked at the Jimmy Young fight [of 1977, Jimmy beating Foreman on points) and I figured me, a small guy, I could do what Young did. But I really was too small. To weigh in at over 200 pounds, I had to have coins and weights in my pockets on the scale. Foreman never dazed me or had me out of it. He just bludgeoned me. I tried to grab and clinch, but it was like trying to grab hold of a freezer or a wardrobe or something. He was so big. I couldn’t get my arms around him.
“But I tell you, if I could have got over the hump and got a second wind, I would’ve whupped his big ass! (Williamson was stopped in five). Matter of fact, I was robbed of a win over Jimmy Thunder in my fight with him. I was beating him easy, then he threw some wild shots in the tenth round, and the referee just jumped in. I was beating him easy. But I had to go to heavyweight to get fights. I so wish I’d had that Hearns fight. That would have changed everything.”
Q: What are you doing these days?
JB W: “I’m training people – kids, old guys, anyone. Me and Lamon Brewster, we are working together at his gym. Today, I find myself watching the old fights more than anything, but I do still watch the fights. I like watching Bernard Hopkins and Mike McCallum fights old fights. I’d have loved to have fought Hopkins. I’d fight anybody. Would I have whipped Hopkins? No doubt about it.”