In sad news that flew somewhat under the radar, former IBF cruiserweight champion “King” Arthur Williams passed away this past weekend. According to reports, the 58 year old died in his sleep. Some tributes have been put out, but it’s sad to say that Williams was not as well remembered as he should have been.
A fine fighter, Williams was born in Pensacola, Florida and he went pro in November of 1989. Winning his first three fights by quick KO, Williams was then held to a draw by Sylvester White. Williams, big for a cruiser at 6’2”, won his next seven, before he was beaten by a guy named Sim Warrior, who scored a third round KO over him. The future champ got his revenge in an immediate rematch, with Williams winning inside two rounds.
It was in May of 1992 when Williams scored his breakthrough win. Facing the great Dwight Muhammad Qawi in Las Vegas, Williams won a ten round unanimous decision over the past his best but still tough and dangerous “Camden Buzzsaw.” Two more notable wins followed, with Williams stopping Yuri Vaulin late (Vaulin best known for giving Tommy Morrison a tough time in 1991, this on the Holyfield-Foreman card) and then decisioning Jeff Lampkin.
Then, in March of 1994, Williams got a shot at the WBA cruiserweight belt. Facing Orlin Norris, Williams lost via debatable split decision. In the rematch four months later, Norris stopped Williams in three. Further big fights awaited Williams.
In 1995, Williams, now aged 30, dropped a split decision to Chris Byrd; this a good showing from Williams, against a future heavyweight champ. January of 1998 saw Williams decision Adolpho Washington, while Williams finally became a world champion in October of that year, when he stopped Imamu Mayfield in the ninth round to become IBF cruiserweight champ. Unfortunately for Williams, he had to face Vassiliy Jirov in his first defence, with him being stopped in seven rounds in June of 1999.
Williams fought on, for some 11 years. O’Neil Bell beat Williams twice, both fights ending via stoppage, while Kelvin Davis and Rydell Booker won decisions over the now 37-9-1 former champ.
In 2004, in his last fight of real note, Williams was stopped quickly by an up and coming David Haye. Still, it wasn’t until 2010, six years after the loss to Haye, that Williams finally retired. Williams walked away with a final record of 47-17-1(30) and he went on to become a good trainer.
Williams added some excitement and some drama to the cruiserweight division, and although he didn’t reign for long, he was indeed King for a while.
Our condolences go out to Arthur’s family and friends, who will miss him dearly.