Boxing: Bruno made to work for his success: Ken Jones reports from Birmingham

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The Independent Online
ALTHOUGH clearly ahead when he knocked out Carl 'The Truth' Williams after 29 seconds of the 10th and final round here last night, Frank Bruno did little to encourage the idea that he will be a serious threat to Lennox Lewis if they meet next autumn.

If Williams's torso looked disappointingly slack at the weigh-in, he gave Bruno a hard contest that exposed many of the Londoner's now familiar shortcomings. Indeed, against a younger version of the 34-year-old coming out of the opposite corner Bruno might have been in serious trouble, especially as he was frequently beaten to the punch when the American got his faster jab going. Bruno's biggest drawback has always been a distinct lack of speed when attempting to deliver his best blows, and it was power and superior fitness that got him through.

At 16st 7 3/4 pounds, Bruno had a substantial weight advantage over the slightly taller American. As Williams had also hired a local man to take charge of his corner, it did not seem that his promise to be a fully committed opponent was likely to be fulfilled.

Bruno carried the fight to him from the start, rushing Williams back into his corner and driving in short hooks. The American complained that Bruno was holding and hitting and found it difficult to withstand the early assaults.

At the start of the second round, the two fighters wrestled each other to the floor and when they regained their feet Bruno seemed intent on ending the contest with one powerful right-hand punch. But the American began to get his jab going and at the start of the third round opened a cut on Bruno's left eyelid.

Bruno reached to brush away the trickle of blood and Williams, who had a swelling beneath his left eye and was bleeding slightly from the mouth, was encouraged to come forward.

There was very little in it by the end of the fourth round and Williams had clearly gained confidence from the sight of Bruno's injury. The corner men had done a good job on the wound and Bruno looked in no distress as he attempted to establish some clear superiority with the force of his own stiff left leads.

Another rushing attack sent Williams back against the ropes and the contest had reached the stage where the American had to show the extent of his stamina. He took a hard right towards the end of the fifth round as Bruno piled into him. The American shook his head at the referee to indicate that he was not hurt.

It certainly was not an easy contest for Bruno, who began to rely almost exclusively on his left lead and a short following right. But he was frequently open to Williams' fast lead and looked extremely cumbersome when forcing the American back.

Limited when backed up and displaying the old faults of dropping his hands, Bruno came under fire again when Williams began to vary his attacks even trying the occasional uppercut.

A left hook from Bruno went in lower than the rules allow, but such blows seldom bring complaints in American rings and Williams went about his work.

Williams has seen his best days and the ease with which he got his jab into Bruno's face and then a left hook that sent spray spinning from Bruno's head must have convinced Lewis's supporters that their man will be the favourite if they get into the ring together.

However Bruno suddenly got in with a left hook that spun Williams back on to the ropes in the eighth. But then he used his forearm when following up and was severely chastised by the referee as Williams complained bitterly.

Having foolishly passed up what looked like a good opportunity to finish the contest, Bruno felt a smear of blood on his left eye in the ninth. Then, after a short delay for repair work to the binding around one of his gloves, Bruno piled back in. He had to take a short right himself, but was clearly ahead when they went into the 10th round.

An overhand right settled it at the beginning of the last round. Williams went down, regained his feet at the count of seven, but referee Dave Parris immediately decided that the American had taken enough. From the ringside this looked slightly premature, but no complaints came from the American's corner.

(Photograph omitted)