Boxing


Audley Harrison And Danny Williams

09.12.05 - By Frank Maloney: This Saturday sees the most exciting heavyweight clash in a British ring since Lennox Lewis' battles with Frank Bruno and Gary Mason. The pairing of ex-British and Commonwealth Champion Danny Williams and the undefeated former Olympic Gold Medallist Audley Harrison has the British fans talking and the boxing writers have been turning up in droves to the individual press conferences of each fighter. I've attended these conferences on alternative days and had the chance to review each fighter's condition, mannerisms and public workouts..

I've always liked Danny Williams and thought at one time that he could have been the man to take over from Lennox Lewis as the leading British heavyweight. But unfortunately, loses to Julius Francis, Sinan Samil Sam and a failed world title bid against Vitali Klitschko have obviously put a dent in that potential, although Danny still believes that he will win a world title due to a dream that his father had.

Danny and I are both from South London and having watched his amateur and pro career, I'd like to think that he can do it but the truth is there's no room for sentiment in boxing.

I studied Danny at Monday's press conference and I saw a man that seems vacant. His eyes were dull and flat while his skin had no glow to it like the glow I would see on Lennox Lewis when he was really biting at the bit for a fight. Although he talked a good game, I'm not so sure that Danny wasn't just talking to give himself courage. His trainer Jimmy McDonnell made some interesting comments about how Audley can't fight for three minutes every round. and he compared Harrison to Lewis in regards to tactics such as holding the opponent behind the head and forcing the head down. I'd have to agree about the Lennox reference, as those were the tactics Lewis used, as he did so very efficiently and got a way with it, too.

If I were to have closed my eyes at the Danny Williams press conference, I might have come away thinking that Danny will beat Audley by knockout. But with eyes open and actually seeing the reality, I'm not so sure.

Interestingly enough, Danny's press conference was held in a gym in East London, which has quite a unique setting, and it must have been the first time that a boxing conference has been held in a venue like that. The gym is attached at the back to one of Britain's largest mosques. I was told that Danny, a devoted Muslim himself, was at prayers before attending the press conference. Unlike many fighters who claim to be Muslim, Danny actually keeps to his faith and practices his religion with true devotion.

It was a completely different environment when I attended Audley Harrison's press conference at the Repton gym in East London. Audley has obviously been talking to Lennox Lewis or maybe it's a thing with Gold medallists but the press were kept waiting outside in the colds for a while before security opened the gym.

But once in the gym I must admit that I was impressed with the size of Audley and the professionalism in which his team went about things. They were led by top American trainer Thell Torrance, who I was pleased to greet again after not having seen him for awhile.

We watched Audley go through his routine of stretching, pad work and rope skipping. He actually made a wisecrack to me "Maloney, I'm so confident of winning that I'll actually let you stay here as I know that you're a spy for Sports Network and will report back to Danny Williams!" I had to smile at that because many a time I had to tell people to leave the Lewis camp because of the paranoia of the boxer.

This type of thing still goes on with boxers today but public workouts are staged for the media and anyone else in the gym at the time. No one observing such a workout is going to learn any of the fighter's tactics and with only three days to go before the fight, I don't think that there would have been anything that I could have told Danny Williams that would have helped him. If a fighter hasn't got their game plan already designed at that point, my advice for them would be to not turn up on the night.

I must say that I was impressed by the condition that Audley turned up in. There was a gleam in this eye and a sparkle and glow to his skin. All of this made me believe that this man has prepared one hundred percent for this fight.

Many British journalists believe that Audley Harrison has so far taken his Gold Medal career into no man's land. Matt Skelton turned down the opportunity, against his management's advice, to fight Danny Williams. Although this is boxing, you could actually compare this to a Cinderella pantomime with Sports Network being the fairy godmother to Harrison, presenting a golden opportunity and Audley has grabbed it with both hands. It's funny how one fighter's bad decision can open up an opportunity for another man who was floating down the river without a paddle. Even though Skelton is on the card this Saturday, not many people are talking about him, which is a shame for a man who was on top of the British heavyweight pile but now finds himself playing second fiddle to Harrison and Williams.

If Audley is successful against Danny, you can bet that Matt Skelton will not be figuring into his plans, as Harrison will have bigger fish to fry.

- Frank Maloney, www.frankmaloney.com

Article posted on 09.12.2005



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