A New Lion Roars Towards the Title.
Perhaps only until his sudden association with Don King did the public’s bemusement at his underachieving convert to wonder, maybe even a real hope that finally Williams could begin to translate his obvious power and athleticism into a world-class force. The dissipation of that relationship compounded our collective miseries; Williams could not even find a way to become a bit-part player in the development of an ailing division seemingly ripe with opportunities.
The era recovering from the loss of its last remnant of true quality, Lennox Lewis, has adopted Ukrainian Vitali Klitschko as its champion. How enthralling it was to watch Klitschko simultaneously avenge his younger brother against Corrie Sanders and ascend to Lewis’s former place as WBC champion. Several months have elapsed since then and Klitschko’s triumphant coronation has begun to feel somewhat like an anti-climax. Perhaps it is just a culture difference. Maybe the boxing world was too eager to begin again, choosing the first candidate who really wanted to fight from the ashes of lawsuits and letdowns without truly understanding that he would never truly translate completely into their affections. Even if Klitschko cannot steal the hearts and imaginations of the people, he can at least be a fighting champion. To become that, at least he has finally signaled his intent.
Amazingly to those of us who followed his embryonic professional development, Danny Williams is the formidable threat being aimed at Klitschko’s first defense of the only heavyweight title with any resemblance of credibility. Williams is suddenly formidable because of his fourth round slaying of former heavyweight champion 'Iron' Mike Tyson.
Upon further examination of the events of that notorious June night in Memphis, it must be conceded that Tyson suffered a rather horrific knee injury in the first round of the fight. The complex meniscus tear of Tyson’s left knee may have considerably depleted his ambition to throw his hook but it did not completely immobilize him, his adrenaline and sheer fighting heart being the culprits for his still being upright for Williams to knock out three rounds later. Undoubtedly, the boxing world will be more than willing to give Tyson another chance to prove himself all over again. But unless during his intensive physical therapy he finds the raw desire to fight and the dedication to achieve the required level of cardio-vascular fitness, Williams and just about any other fighter worth mentioning would likely put him out of his misery.
Therefore, we arrive at the heavyweight showpiece that will illuminate the boxing world just in time for Christmas. Vitali Klitschko versus Danny Williams is beginning to look like a crossroads fight already. Neither man can truly be considered a great fighter but defeat for Williams probably relegates him back to the pugilistic peasantry from whence he came. Defeat for Klitschko would be unbearable for him, but at least his younger brother Wladimir would have a future goal at which to aim. Great expectations weigh heavily on Vitali Klitschko who will seek to exact a measure of revenge on Williams for denying him his dream of fighting Mike Tyson, although for theright price, Tyson will stick around long enough to fulfill that dream, two good legs or not. Say what you will about Klitschko and Williams but they are probably our only chance at a good heavyweight fight for the near future and at least they have respectively opted to forego an obligatory beating of old man Holyfield.
Respect Your Elders?
Surely, there are some laws to be implemented in boxing to prevent younger men from taking advantage of the elderly. Larry Donald, perhaps the most reluctant heavyweight of recent times, (and what a distinction that is), is getting in on the action by signing to fight Evander Holyfield and the predictably tasteless Hasim Rahman has been heard taunting a thirty-seven year old, 290-pound and allegedly brain-damaged Riddick Bowe. Examining Rahman’s recent career form makes Lennox Lewis’s proclamation of him as 'Has-been' quite prophetic. Beyond being cuddled out of a twelve round decision by John Ruiz, 'The Rock' has essentially hit bottom and perhaps his next opponent, Australia’s Kali Meehan can rid heavyweight boxing of Rahman’s consistent failures and hideously inappropriate jibing.
It is hard to know who to feel more disgusted at, Bowe for risking his life in the name of sheer boredom, or the people of the boxing establishment that are facilitating Bowe’s embarrassing return, something that can only add to the degradation of boxing as a whole. Holyfield makes his return to the sport in slightly more respectable company but the message to him is the same one directed at Bowe, boxing is an extremely perilous place to experience a mid-life-crisis, get out before you are put out.
Jim Cawkwell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org