There are those who feel a victory by Danny Williams over Vitali Klitschko on December 11 would be catastrophic for boxing, but it could also mean the opposite.
Klitschko has built himself a formidable reputation and, on paper, Williams shouldn’t even be in the ring with him. Until his stoppage of Mike Tyson a few months ago, Williams was seen as a nothing in the heavyweight ranks. What a blow to boxing’s credibility it would be for somebody with no real pedigree to step up and claim the most coveted of heavyweight titles. Perhaps it’s not the credibility of the sport which is at stake, but rather all of those who have raised Klitschko to the heights of being the best of a bad crop.
First off, I completely understand and support the decision of Williams getting this title shot. The only other boxer who would have carried close to the amount of heat into the bout with Klitschko is James Toney. When Williams stopped Tyson, and it matters little if Tyson was injured, the world was watching. Suddenly people who do not even follow boxing knew the name of Danny Williams. That’s what it’s all about. Name recognition.
The fact that he beat Tyson has elevated the man to new heights and to his credit he did stand up for the fight, and there’s no doubt that he will stand up for the next one too. Williams can beat Klitschko and it may not be such a bad thing if he does. Sure, we’ll be back to square one in trying to establish a world champion with a string of success behind him, but everything has to start somewhere. What makes Williams so dangerous is that he has absolutely nothing to lose.
He’s shorter, slower and less experienced against strong opposition than the champion. He doesn’t have the well-oiled support structure behind him that Klitschko does, and if the champion wants to validate his crown he needs to stop his challenger in three rounds. All the pressure’s on the man with the belt.
In the other corner, if Williams puts up a brave face and goes longer than five, his career is set as a true contender. If he lands, and he could, the title could be his. What would that mean for boxing?
It would mean that the current champions may not be the best of what’s out there. Something I’m sure I’m not alone in hoping. It would emphasize that the system isn’t working because the best boxers aren’t coming through. It would mean that a no-hoper can still achieve success and that could inspire a turn around in people becoming and supporting boxing again.
I would pick Klitcshko to still win this one, but I also have a niggling feeling that Williams could rock the boat and that’s what makes it a good match. It could go either way.