Published: July 24, 2004
DANNY Williams to beat Mike Tyson – surely its a joke? It would be like Inverness Caledonian Thistle toppling Celtic in the Scottish Cup. Now theres food for thought …
It seems incredible to any sensible student of boxing that Williams is in any way fancied to beat Tyson. Some people have put money on him to do so – are they mad?
It is a sign more of Tysons decline than Williamss improvement that the Londoner is quoted as low as 6-1 by some bookmakers to beat Tyson next Friday in the Freedom Hall in Louisville.
To put those odds in context, James Buster Douglas was a 42-1 shot to beat Tyson when he caused the biggest upset in heavyweight history in 1990.
But surely, come on, no kidding, please – Williams to beat Iron Mike? Yet all the signs from Williams camp last week were that the former British and Commonwealth champion from Brixton is confident of creating the biggest upset in British heavyweight history since Oliver McCall toppled Lennox Lewis at Wembley in 1995.
Precisely what Williams has in his hands is one chance at the big time, one shot at glory, one opportunity to become a “name” fighter capable of earning megabucks for his next few fights. The reputed £150,000 he has been paid for this fight will pale into insignificance if he can become the man who beat The Baddest Man.
Such rewards will surely be his destiny should he beat Tyson, an outcome which in all probability would end the career of the most controversial figure in sport in recent decades.
Can Williams do it? Going by history, he has no chance. A comparison between the two fighters records shows one thing – there is no comparison. In 19 years as a professional, Tyson has been in with the biggest names in heavyweight boxing since he was a teenager, while Williams has never faced, far less beaten, a fighter of genuine world class.Tysons failing physical powers will still be frightening, especially if the former world champion can summon up his reserves of sheer intimidation – they failed to upset Lewis, but Williams is notoriously fragile psychologically and if Tyson were to get to him early, the fight would be over in seconds as Williams would crumple.
At least Williams has not done a Julius Francis and treated the fight as a bad joke – remember how Britains last horizontal heavyweight sold advertising on the soles of his shoes before his debacle of a performance against Tyson?
Williams is not like that. He is a decent pro, if limited, and knows that he has to prepare harder than he has ever done before for the fight.By all accounts he has exceeded the expectations of trainer Jim McDonnell – a noted hard taskmaster – and Williams has also been prepared to leave his partner Zoe and their seven-week-old daughter Maliha at home while he moved to the USA for hard sparring.
The Briton is durable – he has actually fought more 12 rounders than Tyson despite fighting for 11 fewer years – and he also has a decent punch. He has certainly earned the respect of the Tyson camp for his approach to the fight.
“I expect Danny Williams to be at his best,” said Roach. “This is the biggest fight in the world for him. If he can beat Mike Tyson, he would have a good future.”
Roach has not seen Williams fight, though Tyson has done so – the then Commonwealth champion was on the undercard of Tysons fight against Lou Savarese on that bizarre night at Hampden Park four years ago. Williams knocked out Craig Bowen Price in the first round and the Blackpool fighter has not been seen since.
Williams can also take a punch. His last opponent, African heavyweight champion Augustin nGou, hit the Brixton man so hard that he tore a bicep and had to retire. At least, thats what nGou said.
Roach has noted this power: “I have got the last four of his (Williams) last five fights on tape and he is a pretty good puncher. He is a strong guy. He does not seem like he is maybe the bravest guy in the world, but he is dangerous a little bit because he does have pretty good power.”
Williams has also learned a lot in bruising encounters with the likes of German-based Turk Sinan Samil Sam, who beat him in six ugly rounds for the European title. Again Roach has not missed this talent.
“Williams is a physical fighter,” said Roach. “He will throw an elbow and watch his head, but Mike is capable of working with that. He has pretty much seen everything. Hopefully, he will just stay to the game plan and go on from there. But if this guy does foul him too much, retaliation could happen.”
And that might be Williams best chance – goad Tyson into yet another display of low hitting and biting and the fight might go his way on a disqualification. Yet Williams is not looking for such a conclusion – he wants to beat Tyson fair and square, but Roach thinks that Tyson will appreciate Williams approach which is similar to the other Britons and Europeans Tyson has faced. Lewis, dont forget, was trained in Canada.
“Mostly, they have their stand-up, European style of boxing.” said Roach, “and we are definitely going to go out and attack him and put pressure on him right away behind the jab.”
Always the master student of an opponent, Roach appreciates that Williams came to the States to learn more about the game: “He has trained quite a bit in New York with Hector Rocha, so he has a lot of American experience.”
The American crowd will be on Tysons side, and that could also affect Williams, though he won on both his previous visits over the Pond.
Williams has an outsiders chance, but it is a chance. In the biggest heavyweight fight involving a Briton since Lennox Lewis retired, Williams may just be able to work a miracle and emulate the former undisputed champion by taking the fight to Tyson and winning.
But would you have bet on Caley Thistle before they beat Celtic?