Skelton Gets Revenge on Dismal Danny

By Matt Winsper


Skelton Gets Revenge on Dismal Danny

Danny Williams has to be the most infuriating British heavyweight in recent memory. Sure, Lennox Lewis’ cautiousness could be a little annoying, but then Lennox was a dominant world champion, so who are we Brits to complain? Frank Bruno’s run of world title losses in the 80’s and early 90’s peeved us all off a little…but then good old Frank only lost to the best and gave his all, didn’t he?

Former WBC title challenger Danny Williams, on the other hand, is a heavyweight fan’s nightmare. He is huge, powerful, skilful and brave, all the ingredients needed to win at least a portion of today’s diluted heavyweight crown. But for some reason it never quite gels. Instead of getting behind his piston-like jab, following it up with monster right hands and crunching left hooks, Danny can sometimes be content to just amble forwards in slow motion, eating up everything his opponents throw and returning with a token swing every two rounds or so.

Such was the case in his anticipated rematch with Matt Skelton for the Commonwealth crown last night. The cavernous Cardiff Millennium Dome played host to an impressive line up of British stars, but it was the heavyweight match up that was on the public’s lips in the days leading up to the night. Their February dust up had been a pulverising 12 round war between two chunky Rock ‘Em, Sock ‘Em robots, Williams throwing his neat boxing out of the window to match Skelton in the centre of the ring in a war of attrition. Despite Skelton’s attempts to break just about every Marquis of Queensberry rule there is, Williams got the best of it and emerged a split decision winner.
That time we got the good side of Danny…the Danny who’d hammered Mike Tyson and levelled Kali Meehan. This time we got the ‘other’ Danny, the plodding, one-dimensional version who bombed against Sinan Samil Sam and Vitali Klitschko. All that skill, all that textbook-correct punching ability counted for nothing as Williams doggedly staggered forwards with gloves high, catching many of his opponents gloves on his ample forearms and biceps but offering very little in return.

255lb Skelton, on the other hand, switched up from his usual take-no-prisoners, mauling, brawling, slugging style of fighting to jiggle around on his toes, popping Williams with jabs and shoeshine flurries. The result, frankly, was hilarious but effective. Imagine, if you will, a grossly overweight Pernell Whitaker ambling forwards in slow motion whilst a flabby and uncoordinated Ricardo Mayorga dances around him, peppering him with jabs and demonstrating ridiculous Ali-shuffles every now and then.

That’s basically what the Cardiff crowd got for six rounds, as Danny trudged forwards and Skelton did his Ray Leonard impression. And amazingly for Bedford, England’s Skelton…it was working! Danny Williams had no answer for the super fit 39 year old’s tactics, and despite trainer Jim McDonnell imploring between rounds to let his hands go, there was nothing in the tank for the 288lb behemoth.

In the second half of the contest, Williams did fight with a little more urgency, trying to pin Skelton in to a corner and unload with big, slow hooks and overhand rights, but the huge former K-1 Kickboxer was too strong and too tough to be taken out with single shots. If Williams was ever going to win this, as he did their first contest, he needed that jab and a high work ethic.

Skelton also made good attempts to stop Williams gaining any momentum by used ‘tactical fouls’, pulling Danny’s head down, holding and leaning his massive frame on the shorter Williams, rubbing his head in during clinches and an assortment of other infringements. None were bad enough to have points docked, but collectively were ample deterrents to stop Williams churning his hands like he needed to. Referee Howard John Foster had a nightmare trying to keep control of the fight in the second half as Williams trundled forwards and Skelton kept tying him up. It wasn’t pretty, but Skelton was keeping the momentum of the fight on his side.

Williams tried hard in the championship rounds, but at the final bell it was obvious who’d had the best of it. Skelton began a crazed celebration, stomping around the ring with his huge mouth gaping open as he cried out in triumph. Williams sheepishly lowered his head and slunk back to his corner to be consoled. There is seemingly no way back into world title contention for the 32 year old Williams, who drops to 36-5-0 (29).

The scores, 117-112 twice and a too-close 115-114 gave Skelton his old Commonwealth title back and improved his record to 20-1-0 (18 ko’s), and apparently a WBA title shot against hulking Nikolai Valuev is now in the offing for some time in the winter of this year. It is damning evidence against the quality of modern heavyweight boxing that Skelton and Valuev can contest a world title…but good luck to the Bedford slugger. He is a genuine nice guy and no-one gives more effort in the ring than he does. Just less of the Ray Leonard impressions next time, huh?


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