D-Day for Danny...Again!

By Matt Winsper


D-Day for Danny...Again!

At the big Cardiff Millennium Stadium show this Saturday night, the thousands in attendance and the millions watching on the UK's national television station ITV-1 will be hoping for another instalment of heavyweight brawling as Danny Williams once again defends his Commonwealth title against bitter rival Matt Skelton in a rematch of their first pulsating war in February.
In that fight at the ExCel Arena, London, the two 250lb-plus juggernauts gave their all in a physical duel that made up for in enthusiasm and drama what it lacked in skill. Skelton, the former K-1 Kickboxing veteran with less than four years total boxing experience, rumbled forwards with limitless stamina, clubbing away with crude but heavy blows, whilst Williams, a former world title contender, employed a solid jab and enormous strength to more than match his challenger in the trenches.

By the twelfth both men had fought on roughly even terms, and it required a big effort by Williams, which resulted in Skelton being out on his feet at the final bell, to clinch a split verdict in a British heavyweight match that brought back memories of Lennox Lewis-Gary Mason, Frank Bruno-Joe Bugner and Henry Cooper-Joe Erskine.

Williams, 32 years of age and a pro since 1995, is hoping another big win here can set him up a second world title challenge. After conquering the remnants of Mike Tyson in 2004, Williams was rewarded with a WBC title shot against Vitali Klitschko. He was bludgeoned to defeat, albeit bravely, in eight rounds.
Since then, however, Danny, (36-4 with 29 KO’s) has rebounded well, having inflicted the first defeat to the record of Olympic-hero-turned-flop Audley Harrison and then also handing the 18-0-0 (17) Skelton his first loss. The two wins established Williams as Britain’s number one guy to beat (despite the official British title being stripped from Skelton and won by Welsh puncher Scott Gammer recently).

Skelton, who is the freshest, fittest 39 year old this side of Bernard Hopkins, has developed something of a cult following around the UK. After steamrolling his first eleven opponents with non-stop barrages, Skelton moved up a level, being extended by wily veteran Julius Francis and then knocking out Micheal Sprott to win the British belt. Five knockout wins later, Skelton had established himself as a genuine prospect for European or even world title shots. All he had to do was defeat Williams in one of the most anticipated British heavyweight match ups of the last decade.

Of course, Skelton failed to win only by the skin of his teeth, and we get a fascinating return bout to look forwards to this Saturday. Will Skelton’s pressure and determination be able to over-rule William’s jab, power and experience? Or will Danny carry on where he left off in the last fight, with Skelton badly hurt and clinching his way to the final bell?

I think the answer here all depends on Danny Williams…or more to the point, Danny Williams’ state of mind. Big Danny has invariably shown up with two mindsets in the past. One is as a heavyweight destroyer, intent on consistently rattling his opponent’s head with a heavy jab before unloading truly world class bursts of knockout punches. We saw a glimpse of this Danny Williams the night he took out Mike Tyson. Sure, Tyson was shot and old, but nobody can deny the dozen or so unanswered punches that Williams let rip with in the 4th round were anything less than world class.

But then, on other occasions, we get the ‘other’ Danny. This version is content to sleepwalk through the fight, only jabbing sporadically, and occasionally opening up in a half-baked attempt to take his opponent out before he loses too many rounds. We saw this version of Williams amble through 8 rounds with Klitschko, hitting the deck five times before the slaughter was mercifully waved off. Williams fought the same way against Harrison in their December ’05 showdown…but luckily for Danny, Harrison fought in an even more lacklustre manner than his opponent, enabling Williams to score a knockdown in the 11th that clinched another split decision win.

If, god forbid, we get the ‘lazy’ Danny in the ring this Saturday, surely Skelton will steamroll him, either stopping the overwhelmed behemoth with unanswered barrages or keeping the pressure on until he claims a decision win.
However, I’m confident that Danny, once again being pushed to the limit in training by super-strict Jim McDonnell (who was absent from the camp in the Harrison fight), will show up in shape and determined. If this is the case, he’ll stay with Skelton in the first half of the fight, using his enormous reserves of natural strength and power to stop Skelton backing him up to the ropes, and by the mid rounds will be pumping out the jab as we saw him do in parts of the first fight.
When Danny turned on the power in the final round of their February duel, Skelton suddenly looked ready to go. I believe that Williams will be encouraged by this and will look to let the punches fly a little earlier this time, and the question is whether Skelton will stand up to it for more than the 30 seconds he had to last time round.

The Pick: Look for another action packed brawl, with Skelton starting well as Danny takes time to warm himself to the task. By the mid rounds, however, I think Williams will be using the jab and keeping Skelton at long range. This will allow him to tee off with the big right hands that rocked Skelton in the first match. This time, with Williams knowing he can hurt his man, he won’t be afraid to keep the power shots coming, and I think a brave Skelton will be hurt and pummelled for several rounds until the fight is stopped, with the Bedford challenger on his feet and bravely contesting the stoppage. WILLIAMS TKO 9


Send questions and comments to: mattwinsper@yahoo.co.uk