The Heavyweight King of Comedy
If you really think about it, doing a stand-up comedy routine and boxing are amongst the toughest things in the world to execute. Both are individual pursuits where you lay it all out on the line, either mentally or physically and sometimes both.
Getting knocked cold is akin to having your material bomb in front of a live audience. Being dazed and dizzy from a left hook would be like hearing the uncomfortable and long silence of a joke gone badly. In boxing you perform basically naked with the exception of your trunks, in doing stand-up, you bare your soul completely.
Whether it's taking and giving a punch or delivering a punch line, there isn't really that much that separates the two endeavors.
DaVarryl Williamson, a heavyweight prospect with a record of 17-1-1, who takes on Robert Wiggins this week on ESPN2's 'Friday Night Fights' has done both. So what's tougher, doing stand-up or standing up to heavyweights?
" I think being a stand-up comic (is tougher)," answered Williamson, with a laugh." because if you're in boxing you're gonna get hit anyway. The comic thing is just something you really got to have the goods for, you've got to have the timing, the atmosphere, the crowd has to be feeling you. Sometimes if you have a slow start in boxing, you've got a couple of rounds to make it up and the crowd is pretty patient with you.
" Right here, in comedy, if you don't have two good one's coming out, you don't get that attention, then you lose the whole night and you may even have some boo's or some tomatoes coming at you. Fortunately, I didn't have any of those things happen because I was just a warm-up act. People didn't have very high expectations of me to begin with so I made them laugh a little bit and I was happy with that."
Williamson, who, for the record, says that Eddie Murphy and Robin Harris are his two favorite comedians, has one of the most interesting biographies in the sport of boxing. In a sport that is littered with interesting stories, he stands out.
Williamson was a quarterback at Wayne St. in the early 90's and tried out for the Indianapolis Colts, and he was able to obtain his masters degree while attending Northern Michigan during his amateur career that saw him post a record of 120-17-1. Which is even more impressive when you consider that Williamson began boxing at the ripe old age of 25.
He is now 34 and he knows he's got to move fast in his professional career.
" I feel like I'm in position because, number one, I got the talent and I have the goods. By me coming out in 2000, I probably should have come out in 1996 but I wanted to stay in school and to obtain my masters degree. So I hung around till '98, I looked up and said,' Wait a minute, it's only about a year before the Olympics, let me give that a shot' and that's why I kinda got a late start." But he has no regrets, " It's something I couldn't beat with a baseball bat by getting another diploma."
But it could also be argued that Williamson, who's nickname is 'Touch of Sleep' because of his powerful right hand, needed that extra seasoning to make up for his late start in the sport.
" Maybe I needed another year or two," stated Williamson." but I don't know if I needed the whole duration of those three or four years that I stayed in. Some people say, 'You stayed in too long, you did this, you did that, for me', I thought it was time well spent. I can't over-emphasize about obtaining a masters degree, I can't over-emphasize the experience in the international fights and all those good things. Because what I don't have in rounds as a professional, I made up for it with the amateur experience all over the world."
With his relative inexperience and his advanced age, Williamson wasn't considered much of a prospect coming out of the amateur ranks. Also, his reputation for having a soft chin wasn't helped when he was stopped by Willie Chapman in his fourth professional outing; but he opened up more than a few eyes when he knocked out the gargantuan Corey 'T-Rex' Sanders this past summer. He would go from suspect to prospect with that big win. But Williamson believes that his transformation and development was a longer process.
" I think that particular fight helped out but I also think the Dale Crowe fight, the Kevin McBride fight, the Andre Kopilov fight, Antuan Shazell- I think I did a good job of connecting the dots," Williamson explains." If you know DaVarryl Williamson, you know these things happened in a chronological order and the Corey Sanders fight just happened to be a fight that a lot of people got a chance to see."
And those in the industry took notice, as his new manager Garry Gittelsohn would buy out his release from his promoter Cedric Kushner and sign him over to Lou DiBella, who just recently obtained his promoters license.
In that watershed victory over Sanders, Williamson would overcome some shaky moments in the early rounds, something he says he owes to time he spent in camp with other heavyweights.
" Oh, man, I gotta tell you, working and sparring with Hasim Rahman and Chris Byrd, those guy push me to the limit, even a Lawrence Clay-Bey, sometimes you're gonna get hurt in this game. Nobody said you weren't going to get hit. And that was just a part of the process, I got hit, I kept my composure, I held him, I tied him up and I went right back to work, because what happened from me getting hit the first time, I was just starting to feel my rhythm right before I got caught with the left hook."
" Other than that, that was the only big moment that he had. I was in control of the whole fight."
And for Williamson, spending time in training camps, like he did when Rahman was preparing for his two bouts in 2001 against Lennox Lewis, has made him a more mature and seasoned fighter.
" Oh, absolutely, absolutely," he agreed." these camps are priceless. As a young heavyweight coming up, you're trying to make a mark on the heavyweight division, trying to get the knowledge, the experience; you can't over-emphasize the possibility of going to someone's camp. Hasim Rahman was getting ready to fight for the heavyweight championship of the world- he won it and brought me back again. So I felt very honored and privileged to be a part of that."
And that's no joke.
WBO jr. welterweight titlist DeMarcus Corley was efficient and effective in taming the hard-punching Randall Bailey this past weekend. But he didn't exactly set the world on fire or put on the type of performance that will have people clamoring for a fight with Kostya Tszyu.
Corley is the type of fighter that not only needs to win, but to look good in doing so. Yeah, winning is the most important thing, but in the position that 'Chop Chop' is in, there is no doubt that he's in a beauty contest with other blue-chip jr. welters like Arturo Gatti, Zab Judah, Sharmba Mitchell and Vivian Harris to get a shot at Tszyu.
Corley, doesn't get high marks for his win over Bailey.
In an interesting move, Main Events has signed trainer Buddy McGirt to a deal to train their stable of fighters. McGirt, a former two-time champion in his heyday in the ring, can still train other fighters with the permission from Main Events.
McGirt has impressed observers with the work he's done with the likes of Arturo Gatti, Antonio Tarver and Angel Mandfredy among others.
I guess Main Events feels as though they have found their new Georgie Benton, who trained so many of their boxers during their great run in the 80's and early 90's.