Britain's most entertaining heavyweight - Danny Williams

Let me set the scene for you. You go into your local DVD store looking for some quality British heavyweight action. You are presented with three career box sets, Frank Bruno, David Haye and Danny Williams. For argument's sake let's say Lennox Lewis was sold out.

I'm guessing most people will fall into two categories - those born before 1980 are going to pick up the Bruno box set, those born after are going to grab Haye's. However I'm going to argue that for excitement, drama and pure action Danny Williams is the best choice.
The most obvious argument against Williams is that he is the only one of the three not to have won a world title. However, world titles don't always mean good fights. Unless you fell asleep in round one and woke up just as Haye's left hook wobbled Valuev in round twelve, most people will agree it was a very dull fight.
On the other hand Franks Bruno's epic battle against the dangerous Oliver McCall to win the WBC title is British boxing gold. Apart from the title win and a few great KO wins early in his campaign, most of the other high quality action in Bruno's career involved him getting destroyed by the likes of Tyson and Lewis.
The action is also lacking on David Haye's resume; in fact, in the Valuev and Harrison fights he is responsible for two of the least watchable fights in British boxing's recent history. He does have some clean KOs and a great scrap with Monte Barrett but you could argue his most exciting fight was the loss to Carl Thompson at cruiserweight. Obviously Haye's defining fights are still ahead of him but even if the Klitschko fight turns out to be an all-action epic the rest of the career is pretty standard.
Now if you want value for money, Danny Williams is your man. I'm talking about more KOs than Haye has had fights, winning fights with career threatening injuries and battling with the baddest man on the planet.
The first part of Williams' career was relatively standard for a heavyweight prospect - plenty of KOs, a few in the first round but nothing too exciting. A poor performance against the durable Julius Francis brought his first defeat after 16 fights. However, two fights later he picked up the Commonwealth title and five fights later he fought Mark Potter for the British belt...and this is when things started to get dramatic! Most of you know how this fight played out. Williams started slowly, losing the first round, then had points taken off for low blows in the second.
Within the first 15 seconds of the third round, Williams threw a big right hand which missed and his shoulder dislocated. Williams understandably had real difficulty boxing with one arm and goodness knows what sort of pain he was going through. However, he worked his shoulder back into the socket and came out sharp in the fourth until another low blow saw him losing another two points. He lost the fifth, taking some heavy shots from Potter, and just when things couldn't get any worse the right shoulder went again early in the sixth.
It was a lot worse this time and you could see the pain etched on Williams' face. Trying to defend with just his left and taking heavy shots the unbelievable happened. Everyone who watched it live will tell you that Williams' perfect left uppercut which led to him winning the fight is the most exciting punch thrown in a British ring.
So, we have had some serious drama but let's crank up the excitement. Every good career needs an upset win. 34 fights into his career with only three defeats, Williams was looking like a world class fighter. Yet when he was matched with Mike Tyson for a WBC eliminator he was the definite underdog. We all know Tyson was at the end of his career and well past his prime but he had only lost once in the last five years and that was a late KO by Lewis. Tyson was also coming off a KO win over the normally durable Clifford Etienne so it's fair to say Tyson was still dangerous.
Tyson came out firing in round one and Williams was rocked by heavy shots. Tyson injured his knee in the first round but it didn't seem to affect him too much; a twisted knee is minor compared to a dislocated shoulder so I don't want to hear any excuses. Tyson landed big shots again in the second and Danny's legs went to jelly a couple of times but he managed to stay competitive. Williams lost a point in the third for punching on the break and was losing the round anyway when the ref took another for a low blow.
Williams took some heavy shots early in the fourth but continued to trade with Tyson. The excellent commentary team of Ian Darke and Jim Watt were spot on as they noticed a bit of tiredness in Tyson's work. With 25 seconds left in the round, Williams unleashed a huge 12-15 punch combination which felled Tyson and ended the fight. Probably one of the best British wins on American soil of any British fighter.
There is a lot more in this career but I'll finish off with a bit of comedy. Ten fights after Tyson and another three defeats on the record Williams was British champ again. However he was almost playing the role of a journeyman as he traveled to Switzerland for a great battle which ended in a no contest and then to Spain to fight undefeated German prospect Konstanin Airich. What unfolded was one of the funniest and probably the strangest fights to feature a British boxer.
Now, imagine if Manuel from Fawlty Towers became a boxing referee...what unfolded in this fight really had to be seen to be believed. Airich wobbled Williams with pretty much the first punch he threw and Danny had to soak up a bit of pressure before getting back into the fight. Round two saw Williams land a low blow which bizarrely resulted in Airich getting a standing eight count. The ref then proceeded to take two points off Williams for the low shot.
The commentary team were struggling to keep up with the ref's antics but could clearly see the ref was painfully incompetent. Round three and Williams was wobbled and had tape coming loose on his glove as Airich landed clean powerful shots. As Airich landed a big right which staggered, Williams the ref stopped the action to give Williams a standing eight count. The commentary team were questioning if standing counts are allowed in professional boxing just as Williams is caught again which, of course, resulted in another standing count! Meanwhile, the loose tape on Danny's glove was now hanging down by his boots and he is forced to remove it himself while he is being counted.
Just as Danny was starting to get into the fight he slipped in round four which resulted in yet another count. One of the commentators joked that he had Danny eight rounds down going into round five.
Round six saw Williams at the end of an angry tirade from the ref and then losing a point to the uncontrollable laughter from the commentary team; it was not entirely clear what the deduction was for but it's clear now that Danny had no chance of winning by decision. Williams dropped a tiring Airich at the end of the six and again early in the seventh.
Airich rose and Williams continued the pressure only for Airich to be saved by the bell - the only problem being that there was still 1:36 remaining in the round!
Both men went to their corners and the ring card girl came in to general disbelief. Airich was out on his feet and early into the eighth he was taking heavy blows as the towel came in to stop the fight.
A truly bizarre fight and a great performance against all the odds by Williams.
I'm not saying he is the best British heavyweight, but he has had one of the most entertaining careers of any British fighter.
The choice is yours! We all know Haye would be the number one seller and there will never be a Danny Williams career box set. But if there was, my advice is take it. If it's buy one, get one free then grab Bruno's as well.


Crolla V Murray

A lot of people consider the lightweight bout taking place in Manchester this weekend between Anthony Crolla (27-4-1) and John Murray (32-2) to be a very close call indeed. The contest, in UK's second biggest city on Easter Weekend, is for the WBO lightweight Inter-continental title, but the significance of the result means more than the marginal title as it will put them a step closer to a world title fight. Even if this isn't immediately forthcoming, the division is stacked in Britain, and can throw up some massive domestic scraps.

Fight Reports

Anthony Crolla

Anthony Crolla (27-4-1) put in a career best shift to overcome an early onslaught by John Murray (33-3) and stop the former European lightweight champion in the tenth round of an epic regional battle. Make no mistake, this was the headline bout. Scott Quigg’s second round demolition of South African Tshifhiwa Munyai played chief support.