Published: July 28, 2004
Pressure could be 1st blow
LOUISVILLE – When Mike Tyson went to England to box for the first time four years ago, Danny Williams was his first choice as an opponent. It didn’t work out, so Tyson met Julius Francis instead.
“Looking back, I’m glad it didn’t happen,” Williams said yesterday following a brief noontime workout in downtown Louisville. “Mentally and physically, I wasn’t ready. I think I would have lost it before I got into the ring.”
Four years later, Williams would like to think things are different. He doesn’t expect to lose it before faces Tyson Friday night at Freedom Hall.
This from a man who has been known to cry before stepping into the ring. And those aren’t tears of sadness over what he is about to do to his opponent, or tears of joy. More like tears of fear.
Tyson understands those tears.
“The pressure of fighting, it does drive you crazy,” Tyson said. “It makes you nuts. It makes you do crazy things. It’s all the pressure. The pressure of getting embarrassed in front of 100,000 people.”
Williams is feeling that pressure because this match has all the markings of a Marvis Frazier moment, or half a minute. (Prediction: Tyson KO in 29 seconds of the first round.)
Ask members of the British press their opinion of Williams and they will tell you he is a terrific guy, a wonderful father and husband, a nice boxer. But he is as flaky as a biscuit.
Williams fits in perfectly with this wacky promotion, which has been dubbed “Return for Revenge,” prompting one wag to remark, “What has Louisville ever done to Tyson?”
The Louisville Courier-Journal reported this week that the promoter, Chris Webb, has been charged with abusing three former girlfriends, has been arrested for theft and drug possession and is the subject of an IRSinvestigation over some shady real estate deals. But the most disturbing part is that he was once a male stripper. Shocking!
In comparison, Tyson looks like a choir boy.
Tyson and Williams fanned the flames of the promotion yesterday with afternoon workouts in downtown Louisville. The police estimated that the crowd was about 5,000. The fans treated Tyson like a rock star, cheering him as he was escorted to the ring by a phalanx of police officers.
Tyson was a little freaked out and embarrassed by the hubbub. It was also the first time that Tyson conducted a public workout. He threw the kind of blistering combinations that would send Williams into hysteria three days early. Good thing he wasn’t watching.
Williams said he isn’t overwhelmed by opponents, but gets freaked out by the magnitude of the events.
“When I was defending my British championship, I felt a lot of pressure and it had nothing to do with the opponent,” Williams said. “Here I’m not putting any pressure on myself. No one is expecting anything from me.”
Williams calls his match against Tyson “my biggest event by far.” He knows the crowd will be screaming and shouting for Tyson. He expects Crocodile, aka Steve Fitch, Tyson’s one-man pep squad, to be shouting invectives at him. He said he has imagined what Friday night will be like. Just so he doesn’t go weak-kneed heading to the ring, Williams will practice his entrance.
The last time a Brit practiced a ring entrance, Prince Naseem Hamed arrived through the air on a magic carpet.
Some of the exercises Williams performed during his workout looked like he was preparing to get up off the canvas. That may happen, but he is not going to take a page from Julius Francis. Williams will not have ads placed on the bottom of his shoes.
“I don’t need that kind of support,” he said.