31.10.05 – By Michael Klimes: When it was recently announced that Danny Williams will fight Audley Harrison on December 10th, I allowed myself a pleasant smile, as the British Heavyweights finally seem to have a definitive clash of some meaning. For a long time, the domestic heavyweight scene in Britain has caused obscurity and confusion but that finally seems to about to clear up, finally.
In 2000, Audley Harrison won the Gold medal in the Super Heavyweight division at the Olympics in Sidney and proclaimed himself “the prodigal son, I am giving something back.” While, at the same time, British Champion and Commonwealth Champion Danny Williams looked set for the international scene, as he went to Berlin and fought the then rugged European Champion Sinan Samil Sam. However, Williams performed miserably, and made people question his boxing ability. Instead of choosing to box the heavy hitting Sinan Samil, Williams brawled with him and was extinguished by the Turkish man’s heavier punches.
Following his loss to Sinan Samil, Williams resurrected his flagging career by stopping Mike Tyson in the 4th round on July 30, 2004. However, five months later, Williams was savagely beaten up by Vitali Klitscho, losing by 8 round TKO on December 11, 2004 in one of the worst beatings in recent history. At the time, both fighters are at a make or break crossroads. Never the less, Williams has seldom had his boxing abilities questioned, as much as his ability to handle the pressure of competing at the big events. Much like Vitali’s younger brother, Wladimir, Williams has suffered from a confidence problem. I mean, he can box effectively when he wants to, using good all round movement and the skill to cover up well. In addition, Williams is a better boxer/puncher than people give him credit for and he has a tremendous ability to take punishment, which makes him always a threat, much like Lamon Brewster. You can punch Williams silly all night long and if you get tired, he will still be there and will be coming for you with mean intentions.
After Audley Harrison won the Gold medal in the 200 Olympics, British heavyweight boxing was looking more exciting than it had in years. Yet, just as rapidly as the fans had become inflated with excitement, they were soon brought down to earth. The first farce in a whole episode of crushing disappointments was Audley Harrison’s win over Matthew Ellis, in Harrison’s eleventh professional fight on May 31, 2003. Ellis, a boxer with fast hands, gave Harrison trouble in the first round by getting on the inside and landing some excellent combinations. Harrison, though, somehow weathered the storm and won by second round knockout. Despite the rough start of the bout, Harrison looked impressive but showed that he had major flaws in his game that needs to be worked on if he wants to be the best.
Harrison, as much I have personally disliked him for his smug arrogance, he does have tons of potential. To me, he can be controversially compared to a prime Riddick Bowe and Lennox Lewis. He is 6’ 5,” moves surprising well for his size, has a very long reach, and can lance other fighters with a good jab. He can put combinations together and put in good body shots. His most surprising asset, however, is his ability to fight well on the inside. Even the great, Lennox Lewis remarked favorably about Audley’s ability to fight on the inside, after viewing one of his fights.
So, who will get bragging rights? From what I see, Williams will not be able to outbox the larger Harrison due to his huge size advantage, so he will have to go for close quarters, which is potentially very dangerous, considering Harrison has the best left uppercut in the heavyweight division. Also, Williams will have to have the higher work rate and put Harrison under a lot of constant pressure and try to tire him out. I predict that Williams will be able to withstand Harrison’s huge left hand bombs at the start of the fight, but they will take their toll later on, if he gets hit by too many. Harrison, in theory, is better suited to win, considering that he is fresher, larger, sharper, more powerful and better skilled than Williams. Harrison can control the pace of the fight, if you let him, and come in with his artillery later on. I see this fight finishing in six to eight rounds, depending on the referee. Look for Williams to rush in early, fight dirty and try to smother Harrison and keep him from extending his punches. I see the first two rounds going to Williams. Later on, however, Harrison will likely his rhythm, establish his jab, hit with combinations and then move in at close quarters, and throw start throwing his murderous left uppercut .
Harrison might just get sloppy with his defense, though, as he lapses in concentration, which has allowed him to be hit in the past. This could give Williams a slim chance, but he will still be taking more punishment than his larger opponent. Depending on how merciful the referee is, I predict the fight will be stopped at some point. I see the fight having some excellent exchanges, as both of these fighters must want it badly. I think this fight will be more competitive and on more equal terms than Tyson versus Lewis, although the outcome will be the same. Although Harrison will get stung like he never has before, I cannot see him losing his composure and discipline that his amateur background will have given him. This is not to say Williams cannot stagger ‘A – Force’ and have him in dangerous waters.
The temperament, differing styles but mutual pride at stake, might just make this an unlikely British classic. George Foreman has tipped Audley Harrison to be the world heavyweight champion in 2006, saying “He has the right body, he takes his time in the ring and has the big jab.” Foreman believes Harrison will knock out Williams, easy. I disagree with that sentiment. Williams has had his time with Mike Tyson and although I have a lot of liking for him, I think he should go out with a bang in this fight. Both of these men are going to surprise us.