Published: July 17, 2004
DANNY WHO? That’s how Danny Williams has been greeted since he arrived in America to fight Mike Tyson.
While Tyson is still the biggest name in boxing, Williams is barely known outside his own household.
Indeed he even suspects Tyson had never heard of him when they met to announce their fight in Muhammad Ali’s home town of Louisville, Kentucky, even though he hugged him like a long-lost brother.
The Brixton fighter believes Tyson is under-estimating him, probably taking one look at his largely unimpressive record and dismissing him as another stooge in the mould of Julius Francis.
But Williams claims Tyson and the rest of America will know all about him come July 30.
“I’ve had a lot of that Danny Who business and I’m sure even Tyson didn’t know me,” said Williams from his New York training camp.
“At the press conference he tried to make out that he knows about me but I’m sure he doesn’t.
“He won’t be taking me seriously. He’ll have seen my defeat to Julius Francis and be thinking that because he beat him this will be another two-round knock-out.
“The American boxing fans are probably thinking the same.
“Well I’ve got news for them and Mike Tyson – they are all going to find out who Danny Williams is on July 30 when I win.”
But Williams will first have to deal with accusations from the Tyson camp that he is a dirty fighter. “Williams is a physical fighter,” said Tyson’s trainer Freddie Roach. “He will throw an elbow and you need to watch his head, but Mike is capable of working with that. However if this guy does foul him too much, retaliation could always happen.”
Roach also questioned Williams’s heart, saying: “He’s a strong guy, but he doesn’t seem like he’s the bravest guy in the world.”
For Williams, 31, the chance to go toe-to-toe with Tyson is like something out of a Rocky film – the former British and Commonwealth champion will earn the biggest pay-day of his career, around £200,000.
He has cut himself off from his family and new-born daughter and is getting up at 5am each day to begin training.
Williams is sparring with Clifford Etienne, perhaps not the wisest strategy because Etienne lasted just 49 seconds against Tyson. That win in February 2003 has been Tyson’s only contest since being battered by Lennox Lewis two years ago and Williams feels the 38-year-old is just 40 per cent of the fighter he used to be.
“People hadn’t heard of Buster Douglas when Tyson fought him and we all know how that fight turned out,” he said.
“I’ve watched that fight again and it has shown me how to beat Tyson. Buster Douglas had good footwork and a good jab and I’ve an excellent jab and a good punch.
“Tyson has been out of the ring for the last 17 months, while his last fight only lasted 49 seconds, so he is going to be as rusty as hell.”
Williams might have fought Tyson earlier but missed out to Francis when he lost his British and Commonwealth crowns for the first time to his fellow Londoner in 1999.
But Williams, who has a 31-3 record, is glad he did not fight Tyson in 2000 because he believes he wasn’t ready for him. “The money would have enticed me to take my chance but I definitely would have lost because I would not have coped with the occasion,” he said.
“Now I’m ready. I know my career has been a bit up and down but that’s because I’ve let myself drop down to the level of my opponent.
“This time I’m fighting Mike Tyson and that will bring out the best in me.
“For too long I’ve been in the shadow of people like Audley Harrison and I’m determined that on July 30 I’m going to step out of their shadow and on to the world stage.”
By David Anderson