Major props must go out to British Heavyweight, Danny Williams. Until his stunning upset over former Heavyweight champ Mike Tyson this past July 30th, Williams had only enjoyed some domestic success in the UK. Williams was the fighter chosen by Team Tyson as the opponent against whom Tyson would kick off his 17 month return to the ring.
Heading into his fight with Danny Williams, Tyson, 38, was at a crossroads in his career. He hadn't held a piece of the Heavyweight title since losing it to Evander Holyfield in November of 1996. Since losing the title to Holyfield, Tyson fought 9 times, going 5-2, with 2 No Contest rulings.
It doesn't take a Rocket Scientist to figure out that if Tyson was ever going to become a force in the Heavyweight division again, at age 38 time was running out. The goal of Team Tyson was to find the right opponent for him to launch his comeback against. It was widely assumed and accepted that Tyson wasn't going to fight a top contender in his first fight back. The goal was to find an opponent who had a good record and some name recognition, but who would basically fall down at the sight of Tyson.
Enter 31-3 (26) Danny Williams. Williams appeared to be exactly what the Tyson camp was looking for. He was a former British and Commonwealth Champ, who weighed 260 pounds and had some boxing ability, but he had a reputation for succumbing to pressure. Williams had a long history of getting nervous before fights, sometimes crying and throwing up. Twice when he was scheduled to fight club fighters in England, he was so distraught he didn't even show up.
He was described by one member of the British press as being “a nice fighter who comes undone by the pressure of a big fight.” Tyson's trainer, Freddie Roach, after watching tape of some of Williams' fights, said, “he's unimpressed with the Londoner.” He followed that up saying, “Williams does not seem like he is the bravest guy in the World. British boxers do have a stand-up style so we are going out to attack him and put pressure on him right away.” Roach went on to say that if Tyson couldn't beat Williams, he should consider not fighting any longer.
Roach conveyed that Tyson had rededicated himself to fighting again, and was in the best condition he had been in since they had worked together. Personally, I didn't have a doubt in my mind before the fight that Team Tyson had the exact fighter they wanted, and had made the right choice in picking Williams. Since the fight, many fans and members of the media are now questioning their decision.
The problem with the Monday morning Quarterbacking is nobody said a word suggesting that Williams may have been too risky or tough for Tyson — until after the fight. It was assumed by all that Tyson would beat Williams in spectacular fashion, for no other reason than it was his first fight back after a long layoff. No way Tyson's management would take a fight with an opponent who could possibly win and shatter their plans. Tyson advisor/manager Shelly Finkel is too smart to mess up like that. Although many questioned what Tyson had left as a fighter, nobody dreamed Williams was good enough to upset him.
What Tyson and his handlers didn't for see was Williams showing up unafraid and not intimidated in the least. Williams had told everyone in the week leading up to the fight that there was no pressure on him, and he had nothing to lose. He continued saying that he knew he was chosen by the Tyson camp because they thought he would be knocked out quickly.
Williams also stressed that Tyson was not the same fighter who beat Michael Spinks 16 years ago. He said that from watching Tyson's first fight with Evander Holyfield, he noticed that Tyson doesn't like to get hit. Williams said Tyson stopped fighting when Holyfield threw punches back at him. He was definitely saying all the right things, but many, including myself, questioned his mental toughness to follow through on it once Tyson came at him trying to take his head off.
In the first round of the fight, Williams took some massive punches from Tyson, punches that would have knocked out a lot of other heavyweights. Williams was stunned and hurt. However, he sucked it up and fought back and actually wobbled Tyson at the end of the round. In the second and third rounds, Williams answered Tyson back with his own flurries and started to take the play away. By the fourth round he saw Tyson was running out steam. In the fourth round Williams went after a beaten and dejected Tyson, unloading a barrage of punches on him until he couldn't take any more and went down, ending the fight.
Williams took on another opponent during the fight with Tyson, referee Dennis Alfred. Alfred did just about everything he could to help Tyson, except hold Williams while Tyson hit him. He deducted two points from Williams for fouls that were totally unjustified. One was for hitting on the break with a punch that barely grazed Tyson, and the other was for a shot on the waistband. On top of that, Alfred allowed Tyson nearly 20 seconds to recover from the fourth round knockdown before stopping the fight!
Many are saying Williams beat a washed up Tyson, and there is some truth to that. But Tyson's performance this past weekend may be his best in years. For the first couple rounds he seemed faster and more dangerous. More so then we have seen him in some time. He was even putting together combinations with the bad intentions that he was known for in his prime, but Williams refused to go down.
Danny Williams must get major props for doing exactly what he said he would. He ignored all those who doubted him and questioned his heart. On fight night Williams showed up with no fear of Tyson and ready to fight. He knew he was facing a Tyson who was desperate and in shape in a must win fight. Williams believed in himself and fought like he never had before, when no one other than those closest to him thought he could do it.
In knocking Tyson out, Williams rose to the occasion against a stacked deck. Remember, Mike Tyson is still a great two handed puncher, and he caught Williams with his best and Williams took it. Williams beat Tyson because he was the tougher and better fighter on the night. Williams refused to be denied and there was nothing Tyson could do about it. Give him his Props!