Boxing


Tyson/Williams: The Magical Power Of Tyson Is Still There

28.07.04 - By Janne Romppainen: It is often said that charisma is one of those things that you are born with: either you have it or you donít. Some performing artists have the natural-born skill to make their audience excited with everything they say or do. The former undisputed heavyweight champion of the world Mike Tyson certainly fits this category. Few people in all sports are followed with the same intensity and enthusiasm as this former teenage star who has now reached the respectable age of 38. Even though the boxing pool is filled with colourful personalities and knockout artists, no fighter since Muhammad Ali has received the same kind of mega-sized publicity the world over.

Despite the fact that Iron Mike has not been any kind of champion since the year 1996 and that most of his opponents from the last eight years have been B-class, the popularity of the Brooklyn steel-fist doesnít show signs of going down. All of his fights are still big media events and in publicity they overwhelm the usual heavyweight championship fights of today. Despite his losses, Tyson still also carries the aura of invincibility that was placed on him already in the 1980s. Every time Tyson enters the ring, even the best of experts seem to lose their skill of thinking clearly. Everybody still expects him to be the killer machine that he was when he was first introduced to the audiences, one that destroys everything that is in front of it. If Tyson fought for the championship tomorrow, he would very probably be the big favourite in betting offices and among the experts. The same question could be made that arises when you see the best magicians in the world: How does he do it?

In the last years Tyson has made more news outside the ring than inside it with his bankruptcies, legal problems and sometimes supposed K-1 or boxing matches, but on 30th of July he will be seen doing what he still does best as he faces the British Danny Williams in Louisville, USA, in a ten-round heavyweight fight.

The former British champion Williams is a rather unknown name outside the keenest boxing fans despite his nine-year long professional career. His ring statistics that he has collected against mediocre oppositions shows the figures 31-3 with 26 knockouts. If nothing else, Williams does have enough frame for a todayís heavyweight: the heavy-muscled Brit stands at 6í3 and weighs about 260lbs in fighting shape. Stylistically Williams is a forward-pressing fighter who pounds away throwing hooks with his both hands bit slowly but heavily. His basic technique is fairly good, but he also sometimes forgets his left hand low, which makes him an open target to counters. In addition to that his punch resistance is a question mark. He does not lack guts however as he demonstrated in 2000 in a bout against Mark Potter. Williams dislocated his shoulder early in the fight but knocked his man out by using only his left.

Williams was billed as a more promising prospect at least in his home country in the late 1990s, but to offset some of his nice victories he has always suffered troublesome losses. When he made his first challenge to the British championship in 1999, he dropped a decision to veteran Julius Francis, whom Tyson knocked out in two rounds a year later. In the rematch in 2001 Williams got his revenge, but the next step was again too much for him as he suffered a brutal stoppage loss to Turkish Sinan Samil Sam in his bid for the European championship last year. The third time he got an L to his record was in January as he lost a decision to his countryman Michael Sprott whom he had beaten twice earlier. Williamsí best victories besides Francis and Sprott are over Australian Kali Meehan, the next WBO title challenger whom Williams stopped in half a minute, and American veteran Quinn Navarre.

Mike Tysonís name is familiar to everybody, but his capabilities at this point are a suspect to everybody outside his camp. His public training sessions have looked good, but as we know, that doesnít necessarily mean anything. The last time we saw him in an actual fight was over a year ago when he wiped out Cliff Etienne in less than a minute so there is very little evidence about his shape. According to his trainer Freddie Roach Tyson will weigh in at less than 230 lbs against Williams. That would mean more than at his top shape but also less than in his last big fight against Lennox Lewis in 2002 where Tyson was trashed. If Roachís promise holds, it means that Tyson has taken care of his training at least pretty well, which should in turn mean bad news for Williams.

Tysonís speed that once was so deadly has eroded during these years, but the weight behind his hammers is still there. Also in his late years he has proven without any doubt that his chin is splendid and with these assets he can still be dangerous. Tysonís ring record reads 50-4 with 43 knockouts.

Making a prediction here is difficult due Tysonís questionability, but he is clearly the favourite and not just among the fans who want to remember his youth. Williams has demonstrated in the past that he is vulnerable both in technical and mental sides. Against Sam and Francis he suffered the losses much because he was too nervous and couldnít get his best fight out. So we have a reason to believe that a fight outside his homeland will be difficult for him too, especially as he is meeting Tyson who often makes his opponents scared. Also Sam landed his right cross plenty of times on Williams and Tyson even today punches a hell lot harder than the Turkish fighter. Furthermore, when we observe that Sprottís quick hands troubled Williams in inside exchanges, it is safe to assume that he wonít be without trouble against Tyson either.

Tysonís game plan is familiar from the two decades he has spend in boxing. As a short and effective aggressor he will attack Williams on full steam from the beginning. Tyson has always been most dangerous early on as his 23 first round victories demonstrate. Williamsí mission is to keep him off in safe distance and land his own heavy shots as often as possible. On inside, Williams has to try to employ his huge strength and tie Tyson up because he canít stand and trade with Tyson.

If Williams is able to stand up for Tysonís hurricane for three rounds and gets his jab going, he can make a fight out of it. It is plausible to think that Tysonís stamina isnít the best after so little ring experience lately and the longer the bout goes, the better Williamsí chances will be. Williams has everything to win in here so he could put up a brave performance. Also if the going gets tough, Tysonís mental stability will become a factor too. After all he hasnít won a really tough fight since 1991. Does he want it anymore hard enough if Williams proves to be trouble for him?

Williams has all the physical ability needed to make a difficult evening for Tyson, but a victory would demand a perfect tactical plan and tough mentality for him. Much more likely scenario is that Tyson lands one of his famous combinations and turns the fight in his favour inside the distance, perhaps in early rounds. Williams is by no means a bad fighter and he clearly is a better opponent than Tysonís original choice Kevin McBride, but the gap from British domestic level to fight Tyson seems to be a too big one to leap.

If Tyson comes out as the winner, his name will again be up there in speculations about the upcoming title fights. The name of the reigning WBO champion Lamon Brewster has already been mentioned as his possible next opponent. There is no certainty about the future when it is about Tyson though. The fight against Williams is at least the fifth ďcertainly happeningĒ bout which has included Tyson during the last year. Whatever happens in the future with him, the public interest will not fade, that is for sure. That is because of the magical power of Tysonís charisma. Some people just have it.

Comments/questions: janneromppainen@hotmail.com

Article posted on 29.07.2004



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