“Prince” Charles Williams is in many ways an underrated fighter. A former IBF light-heavyweight champ, Williams faced plenty of big names, including – Bobby Czyz (twice), James Toney, Marvin Johnson, James Kinchen, Henry Maske, and Merqui Sosa (twice).
It was the first war with Czyz that saw Williams become champion. Here, the 60 year old former champ kindly takes the time to speak with ESB:
Q: It’s coming up 35 years since you sensationally stopped Bobby Czyz to win the IBF light-heavyweight title – October 29, 1987. Can you recall who you sparred to get ready for Czyz?
“Prince” Charles Williams: “Yeah, I sparred Bert Cooper, Nate Miller, and Bernard Hopkins. Cooper was a cruiserweight then, as was Nate Miller. Hopkins back then, he was my sparring partner for years. He was just coming up as a fighter himself back then.”
Q: You obviously had great work for the fight, and you were in terrific shape in the fight…..
C.W: “Oh, no doubt about it. I had no doubts in my mind that I wasn’t going to win the fight. That’s what I was working so hard in camp for. I was in camp for three months for that fight. That was my big opportunity, to fight for the world title. I knew I had to take it and win it. That was just one of the belts that I won of course. I didn’t even think about the other champions that night, about who was the best. I knew I had to beat Czyz and I did, then I wanted to fight the other champions – Dennis Andries and Michael Moorer. But I guess, looking back, at the time maybe Czyz was the best of the light-heavyweight out there. Czyz was a better fighter than both of them guys [Andries and Moorer].”
Q: It was a great action fight. How hurt were you when he put you down twice early on, in rounds 2 and 3?
C.W: “Oh, I was hurt bad! I just think the hard training I went through, that gave me the willpower to come back. A lot of people don’t understand, but I fought that whole fight on instinct. I didn’t even really know what I’d done in the fight, not until later that night, when I watched it on TV. It was all just instinct and then, after I had won, I could watch it and see and appreciate and understand what I had done. I didn’t remember a thing about that fight. I told people, ‘I got knocked down.’ They told me, ‘no, you go knocked down twice!’ But actually, going into the fight, I told people I would stop him in nine rounds, so I got the round [right]. I was relentless that night. I wouldn’t stop until I got the win. And I had a great team with me.”
Q: You had great stamina, and of course the ability to come back after being hurt.
C.W: “Yes, I did. I was sparring 12 rounds a day with cruiserweights. I also did plenty of roadwork and heavy bag work. No doubt, my conditioning played a big part in that fight.”
Q: After you defeated Czyz and became IBF champ, did you think the big stardom would come for you?
C.W: “Yeah, I figured that, in beating who they said was the best [light-heavyweight] fighter out there, who was a star himself, I thought I had proved to the world how good I was. I really wanted the fights with Moorer and Andries. I met with Moorer and Emmanuel Steward and I signed the contract to fight Moorer. Two weeks later, he [Steward] called me and he said they didn’t want the fight. So they paid me $40,000 to get out of the contract. I needed those fights to get the stardom. I was too dangerous. I couldn’t get anyone to fight me in the U.S, so I had to go to Europe to get fights.”
Q: Czyz of course fought you a second time, in June of 1989, and you stopped him again. Was the rematch, which was also a great action fight, any tougher than the first fight?
C.W: “The second fight was easy, because I knew how to beat him. In the first fight he knocked me down twice, in the second fight I knocked him down twice and I stopped him (RTD 10). But Bobby Czyz, I can’t take nothing away from him, he was a tough, tough fighter. I just had his number; I was just too good a boxer for him. He’d never fought anyone like me, with fast hands and a long reach. I would say Czyz was up there as far as the best I fought, him and Marvin Johnson (who won a non-title decision over Williams in 1984). James Toney, he would never fight me at 175. I would have schooled him at 175, but I had to boil down to 168 for that fight. That was my biggest payday. I made more from that fight than I made when I was champ. I was weakened from boiling down in weight (Williams being KO’d in the final round of a brutal fight).”
Q: Can you remember after you beat Czyz, did you stay and watch the Tommy Hearns-Juan Roldan fight?
C.W: “Yeah, I watched it, it was a great fight. Tommy was a guy I really wanted to fight! I had Moorer and Virgil Hill on my list, and I knew a win over Hearns would have been big for me. I called him out but he never wanted it. I was too good for my own good. I was too dangerous. Moorer, if you could back him up, he couldn’t fight. And Tommy Hearns, if you hit him on the left side, he didn’t have no chin. As things worked out, the Czyz win was my biggest win. I think I threw something like 900 jabs in that fight!”