Williams nails the myth of ordinary Harrison

By MALCOLM FOLLEY, Mail on Sunday

Last updated at 09:36 12 December 2005

Danny Williams has exposed Audley Harrison's ambition to build a global empire for the folly most boxing observers always knew it was.

Williams knocked down Harrison in the 10th round on his way to a points victory over a man who had asked us to believe that he could one day become heavyweight champion of the world on the platform of the Olympic gold medal he had won in Sydney five years ago.

In the event, Williams was awarded victory on a split decision that had most in London's ExCel Arena either jeering or uttering oaths of disgust.

But justice was done as Phil Edwards and Terry O'Connor awarded the verdict to Williams by 116-113 and 116-112, after Mark Green had given Harrison the edge, 114-113.

During the hard words exchanged before the fight, Williams had dismissed Harrison as a 'celebrity boxer'. He felt Harrison would not withstand the pressure. His prophecy came unnervingly true, even though Williams spent almost nine of the 12 rounds disadvantaged by a sprained ankle.

Williams insisted: "Harrison was very scared, he didn't want to fight.

"I knew he could box, but I didn't think he had the bottle. He was a joker and it wasn't the fight that I'd hoped we'd give the fans."

Harrison revealed that he had damaged his left hand in the third round, but he offered no excuse for his disappointing performance on his homecoming after going into exile in Las Vegas 18 months ago.

"It was Danny Williams' night," said Harrison. "But I will be back. I remember that Frank Bruno went to the well four times before he became world champion."

Whether Harrison has it in him to repeat Bruno's feat must be in doubt.

From the opening bell it was apparent that this was not going to be a night of boxing as an art form. Perhaps too much was at stake. For Harrison there was his bold vision to dominate the world; for Williams the need to expunge the terrible beating he took in his last fight against the now-retired WBC world champion, Vitali Klitschko.

Williams, educated on the streets of south-east London, while Harrison left Brunel University with a degree in sports studies and leisure management, claimed that his opponent had taken a terrible gamble by choosing to fight him rather than British heavyweight champion Matt Skelton, who retained his title in just 79 seconds against John McDermott earlier in the night.

As it turned out, the shape of the fight was defined in the first round when Harrison was twice warned by referee Dave Parris for holding Williams for an unnecessary amount of time.

'He told us he was the real deal, but he's not the real deal'

In the second, Harrison was booed by the 15,000 sell-out crowd, who were not enamoured with his defensive style.

Harrison's predominant tactic was to jab with his right hand and then dance out of range. It was Williams' intention to soften Harrison from the inside and he landed his first decent shot with his right and the two men tumbled to the floor.

The canvas shook and, as Harrison lay on top of Williams, he was hit with a right uppercut.

Williams, looking cold-eyed and trying to draw on the memory of the night he disposed of Mike Tyson in Louisville, Kentucky, in the summer of 2004, was evidently the fighter with the more wicked intentions.

In the fourth round, Harrison seemed mildly troubled by a graze to his left eye. Williams strode forward with apparent belligerence once more as trainer Jim McDonnell urged from the corner: "Don't let him rest, Danny."

Harrison's thoughts of world domination looked to be a myth of his own making and as the fight wore on and Harrison still seemed reluctant to show any aggression, the crowd became increasingly irritated.

By the end of round nine, during which barely a punch was thrown, the crowd let Harrison know that they had tired of watching him jab and dance. "What a load of rubbish," they bellowed and some even headed for the exit.

But they had made a grave misjudgment. At 32, Williams was dedicated to relieving Harrison, 34, of his arrogance.

In the 10th, Williams hit Harrison on the temple with a right that the big man saw too late. Harrison fell clumsily to the canvas and against the ropes. As one, the crowd inside the arena screamed "Danny! Danny!" but Williams singularly failed to take advantage.

The 12th and final round at last offered the explosive exchanges all had been waiting for. In desperation, Harrison threw caution to the wind, unleashing two concussive lefts. The man who had stood before Klitschko was shaken but unmoved, and in response, he once more pounded Harrison across the ring.

At the final bell, Williams held his two arms aloft in salute of his evening's labour. Somewhat embarrassingly, Harrison tapped his head with his own left fist to show that he felt he had boxed his way through the aggression of Williams. It was the act of a beaten man, in truth. At least any controversy was avoided when Williams was properly declared the winner.

Former world featherweight champion Barry McGuigan agreed, saying: "Audley was dreadful. He told us he was the real deal, but he's not the real deal. Danny deserved to win the fight. Audley ran, he looked petrified and he was terrible."

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