Ted Sares returns with a look back on one of the more memorable heavyweights of the modern era, England's Danny Williams.
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Courage is the discovery that you may not win, and trying when you know you can lose.
The same thing happened when I was an amateur - everyone expected me to win the ABAs but I didn't even win the South East Divs. In contrast, later that year in the amateurs I knocked out the Canadian champion when boxing for England and then the English super-heavyweight champion Danny Watts in 32 seconds. That's Danny Williams all over, you never know what you're going to get.
Against Tyson no one expected anything from me which is why I was able to go out there and perform the way I did... I was surprised when the end came in the fourth but when I had him going the fear of the man kept me throwing punches...
When Danny was good, he was damn good. When he was bad, he was bloody awful.
Danny Williams won his first 16 pro bouts before losing to the very ordinary Julius Francis (19-7 at the time) in 1999. During this first run, his weight varied between 227 and 255 and against Francis, he weighed 248.
Danny bounced back with a one-round KO over hapless Ferenc "Merciless" Deak (2-14), but he weighed 253, some 46 pounds more than the not-so-merciless Deak. He then made another impressive run during which he fought mostly over 255. He wore the weight well and took the measure of some solid opposition. It was during this streak that he beat Mark Potter for the vacant BBBofC British heavyweight title and the Commonwealth (British Empire) heavyweight title.
The Mark Potter Fight
In this remarkable fight in 2000, both men came in fit and ready, but Williams badly injured his right shoulder in one of the early rounds and Potter took advantage by pressing the action with Danny trying to hold him off as best he could. Then, in the sixth round, Williams missed with a right that had "ending" written all over it. In so doing, he grotesquely dislocated his already injured shoulder and was in terrible pain. His right arm sagged and he grimaced, but he hung on and managed to keep Potter at bay with his left jabs. While some of the fans at ring side looked on in horror, Potter inexplicably let Danny off the hook by not launching an all out attack. Then midway in the round, the "Brixton Bomber" caught Potter with an astonishing left hook (some called it an uppercut) that sent him down and almost out. Danny jumped on the badly hurt Potter and decked him two more times before Referee John Coyle called a halt to this amazing fight. Danny raised the bar for courage in this one.
After corrective surgery, The Bomber followed this one up with a 32 second starching of Kali "Checkmate" Meehan in 2001, and then avenged his loss to Francis by taking him out in 4. He then stopped Shawn Robinson (15-1) in 2 and followed with a TKO over Michael Sprott. By the time he met undefeated Turk Sinan Samil Sam in Berlin, Germany in February 2003 for the EBU (European) heavyweight title, the Brixton Bomber had won 12 straight with 10 coming within the distance. His over-all mark stood at an impressive 27-1. But lo and behold, he was decked thrice by the "Bull from Bosporus" before being stopped in the sixth canto.
Williams then rode the coaster up by stopping useful Aussie Bob "The Big Bear" Mirovic in 4 and then Sprott (a second time) in 5. But the ride headed South again when he lost to Sprott in April 2004.
After winning two by quick stoppage (one against Abidjan Augustin "Prophete Sandovi" N'Gou for the Vacant WBU International Heavyweight Title and the other against Montenegrin Ratko Draskovic), he met none other than Iron Mike Tyson (50-4) in Louisville, KY, in 2004 and after taking the best Tyson could throw, he exploded in the 4rth with over 20 solid punches to knock out the legendary Tyson and thereby became a "Giant Killer" among boxing fans throughout the world. For his reward, he would get a shot at another iron worker, "Dr. Ironfist." Clearly, Danny Williams was now at the peak of the bell-shaped curve, but it would only last 5 months. On December 11, 2004, he was pummeled badly by Vitali "Dr. Ironfist" Klitschko (34-2) in Las Vegas with the WBC heavyweight title at stake. In fact, the Bomber was brutally bombed to the canvas on 4 different occasions. By his own admission, he would never be the same
But Danny bounced back with a vengeance making Hungarian Goulash out of limited Hungarian Zoltan "Csspi" Petranyi en route to a quick and brutal stoppage. He then won two SD's over two highly touted and undefeated boxers, Audley Harrison and Matt Skelton, and once again found himself moving due North. However, the positive ride was reversed in 2006 when he was decisioned by Skelton and shockingly stopped by Harrison.
Undaunted, in March 2007, Williams once again achieved an "up" when he KO'd Scott Gammer (17-0-1) in Wales for the BBBofC British heavyweight title in a crossroads fight for both men. Amazingly, he weighed 228 pounds for this outing, the second lowest weight of his career (the lowest being 227 in his very first pro fight back in October 1995). However, some questions remain about the veracity of that weight. In an interview after the fight, Danny (37-6,) talked about retiring on a high, but the Brixton Bomber came back on April, 12, 2008 to beat American Marcus McGee and thereby stayed in the mix. Later that same year, he also beat John McDermott (25-3) by a deceptive MD - deceptive because Williams was penalized three times for infractions.
The stage was set for Danny Williams to exit on a high note, but instead he went up against Albert "The Dragon" Sosnowski (43-2) three months after Danny's win against the tough McDermott. The "Dragon" had been beaten and almost slain by the notable non-Dragon slayer and non-power puncher Zuri Lawrence, the same Lawrence who was almost decapitated by Calvin Brock in 2006 and later blown away in brutal fashion by Dominic Guinn. Nonetheless, the Pole somehow was able to stop The Bomber in 8 rounds. It was a deep low for Danny, but he then erased the stigma of having lost to the guy who lost to Zuri, by once again beating "Big Bad John" McDermott in Essex on May 2, 2009. In so doing, he won a regional belt for the 17th time in his career.
While boxing never promises a happy ending, the rare opportunity presented itself to The Bomber, but he would have none of it as he unwisely participated in thePrizefighter Tournament at the ExCel Arena in London and was decked twice by unknown Carl "The Fridge" Baker (8-3) before losing a 3-round UD. Surely, that should have signaled the end, but the big guy from Brixton, to the dismay of his many fans, decided to end his career (hopefully, that is) against Derek "Del Boy" Chisora (12-0) on May 15, 2010 on the Katsidis-Mitchell undercard in Upton Park. The Zimbabwe native fighting out of London had iced "The Fridge" in two back in February so the writing was on the wall.
The end was not pretty as Williams came in at 273 pounds and was unable to offer any resistance. Referee Howard John Foster administered what amounted to a mercy stoppage in the second round after Danny had been dropped twice.
While he ended things on a low, the affable, brutally honest, and deeply religious Danny had a fine 15-year career finishing 41-9. Of course, beating Tyson was the pinnacle, but for me, I will always remember Danny Williams for the uncommon courage he displayed in beating Mark Potter in 2000.
Thanks for the memories, mate.