It is exactly one year to the day that Danny ‘The Brixton Bomber’ Williams’ father, Augustus, passed away, and it is poignant that this date marks the final curtain on former British and Commonwealth Champion, Danny Williams boxing career.
In this exclusive interview with BoxRec News, Williams confirms he is finally retiring and talks candidly about the emotional difficulty he had in hanging up the gloves and coping with life after boxing. Williams reflects on: the highs and lows of a remarkable career, his toughest fights and opponents, regrets and life after boxing.
It is well documented that Williams has admitted that he was past his best and the ‘Brixton Bomber’ expressed intentions to retire before he fought Dereck Chisora for the British Title in 2010. Williams fought on, even acquiring a Latvian license to fight on shows in Continental Europe. However, Williams is emphatic that he will not be returning to a boxing ring:
“For a long time I have known that I have been way past my best. I remember watching back my fight against Konstantin Airich. I don’t normally watch my fights, but I watched my fight with Konstantin because of the drama surrounding the fight, and I remember when watching that at how badly I looked and at how far past my best I was. I couldn’t believe it, I was a million miles away from the man I was when I beat Julius Francis in the second fight or when I beat Mike Tyson”.
Even so, the Konstantin fight was over three years ago, but Williams still continued with his ring career:
“The reason why I kept fighting was for the love of my sport because I have did it since I was eight years old and I love fighting – it is part of me”.
“Boxing is so addictive. I remember when I was younger, I watched fighters like Tommy Hearns and I used to think ‘Why the hell are you not retired – you are finished, you are obviously finished’. Well I am in the same position as him now, where I am past my best and I can’t fight now. I can’t retire either, as boxing is so addictive – you love this sport then you wish you never had.”
“If you look at the documentary that was on (Sky) recently of Michael Watson, Paul Ingle and Spencer Oliver. And all of these guys have had bad injuries in the ring and they have all nearly died. And they have all said that if they had another chance they would fight again – and that shows the addiction that we have for this sport. They said they would fight again, even though they nearly died”.
Williams lost on a second round TKO last weekend against Leif Larsen and I asked if this provided the final impetus to retire:
“Yeah. Look I have got no aspirations. I know I can’t win any titles. I just love fighting. Last weekend basically showed that my punch resistance has totally gone – I have no punch resistance. If I have got no punch resistance, that means that I can’t take the punches and I can’t be in a good fight no more. So there is no point fighting anymore.”
Williams elaborates on the poignancy of the exact date that he has declared his retirement on:
“It comes to a point now as well, that it is a year to the day that my dad died, my dad [Augustus Williams) died on the 6th of December 2010, and he is the one who got me into boxing. That is why I am retiring on the 6th of December.”
Specifically, what is it about boxing that makes it so difficult to give it up, is it the adrenalin of being in the ring, is it the discipline of training, the fans?
“It is a combination of all of what you have just said, it is all of those things mixed together. It is a lifestyle, it is a way of life and once you retire – you just feel lost man. I will tell you now – I feel lost. When I walk past the mirror I am doing a little bit of shadow boxing – boxing is my life, I just love it.”
Would you like to stay in the game in any capacity, what are your plans for the future?
“I am fearful because I know that if I go anywhere near a boxing gym to train somebody I am going to end up fighting again, so I am having nothing to do with boxing. I am going to do my bodyguard course (3 week course) and I am going to be a professional bodyguard that is going to be my line of work from now on”.
What have been the highlights of your career?
“Obviously Mike Tyson, fighting and beating a great fighter like him. Of course I know that if I fought him at his best that I wouldn’t last a round with him, but just to be in the ring with an all time great was a career defining moment for myself.”
“Also, beating Mark Potter with a dislocated shoulder, boxing with one arm and stopping the fight with my dislocated shoulder that was also a big highlight for me. If you look throughout history from John L Sullivan onwards, no fighter has ever done that. So I can say that I have done something that no other fighter has been able to do.”
And the low points?
“Losing to Audley Harrison, that was a real devastating loss because I beat him in the first fight and I took the second fight at five days notice, because he was originally supposed to fight Matt Skelton (Skelton pulled out). I shouldn’t have took the fight either, at only five days notice. But Audley Harrison looked really good that night and it is one of my lowest moments. I would say that fight and also the fight with Dereck Chisora, because I didn’t really put up much of a fight – those are very low points of my career.”
Any regrets, in terms of missed opportunities or things you would have done differently?
“One of my regrets is that when I was offered a fight against Vitali Klitschko that I didn’t wait for a better offer. Vitali was the number one heavyweight in the world. If you look at David Haye. David Haye was offered a fight with Vitali and Vladimir Klitschko, he was smart, he rejected both of them. Then he boxed Valuev and he beat Valuev on points. If he had fought Vitali Klitschov, then he might not have been a World Heavyweight Champion? So it is all about making the right choices at the right time and I think if I had have fought another champion around that time, against John Ruiz or Hasim Rahman then maybe I would have retired and said I was a World Heavyweight Champion. But it wasn’t to be.”
“Also another regret I have is that I take fights regardless of my condition. Sometimes I’d take fights at short notice and sometimes I’d take fights when I am not well, that is another regret.”
Williams has boxed all over the world, what venues have stood out?
“Louisville, Kentucky with Tyson, that was magnificent, absolutely magnificent. Vegas against Vitali Klitschko – I can’t believe I boxed in Vegas. You know seeing myself and Vitali Klitschko on the billboard in Vegas was unbelievable. Many of the under cards that I fought on such as Naseem Hamed. I have had a great career, I have fought all over the world.”
Danny Williams is also proud of his loyal fans, none more so that a travelling Dutchman called Gert Jan, who has travelled the world to support Williams:
“I have got a fan called Gert Jan, he is a Dutch man and he follows me all over the world. He obviously knows I am not going to become a world champion, but he just does it because he likes me and he is a fan and I am so thankful to him”.
Williams does not need to think long to identify his toughest opponent:
“Vitali Klitschko easy. The man is so awkward. You know, you look at him and his style does not look that good. You look at Mayweather and you think ‘wow – what a beautiful boxing style he has got’. Klitschko – he looks ‘novicey’, he looks slow and awkward and clumsy. But when he gets in the ring he is a very good fighter. His punches are so painful, each time he hits you it is like someone is putting steel into your face. He is a real good fighter.”
Vitali Klitschko was the toughest opponent, but according to Williams, Mike Tyson hit much harder:
“Tyson hits much harder and that is why Vitali Klitschko has few first round knock outs, because, although his punch power is painful, it is not the kind of power that will knock you out. With Tyson, every time he hits you – you don’t know where you are, your brain will dim for a bit. It was only because of how he was when he fought me (past his best) he didn’t throw another shot to get me out of there. But every time Tyson hit you it was like a knock out shot, it was like you were about to go to sleep. With Klitschko it was just pain, pain, pain – it was just horrible pain.”
Who has been his biggest help and support of your career?
“My dad, obviously he got me into boxing and he has always pushed me. Anything I ever wanted to do with boxing, he would always buy me. So dad has been a great influence on me. Any time where I feel like I have fear in a fight, I particularly think of my dad and I want to please my dad - and it gives me the energy to go and do the unbelievable “
“Also, Jimmy McDonnell. Jimmy McDonnell has been so good for me – he has pushed me up hills. When I didn’t want to train anymore, he would kick me up the bum and make me train. He was fantastic.”
Danny Williams retires with a record of 44 wins (33 KO) and 11 losses. He won the British Title three times, Commonwealth title two times and in 2004 lost to Vitali Klitschko in his gallant challenge for the WBC Heavyweight Title.
BoxRec News would like to wish Danny ‘Brixton Bomber’ Williams a long and happy retirement from the boxing ring.