Boxing: Klitschko the tall guy is determined not to be the fall guy

Giant Ukrainian stands in way of Williams and his chance of hitting jackpot.
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The Independent Online

Lennox Lewis has been offering Danny Williams some unsolicited advice on how to beat Vitali Klitschko when they meet in New York on 11 December in the Ukrainian giant's first defence of his World Boxing Council heavyweight title. However, Williams's manager, Frank Warren, is less than impressed. "Danny doesn't need Lennox Lewis to tell him how to win," he snaps. "He'll grit his teeth and get stuck in, just like he did against Mike Tyson."

Lennox Lewis has been offering Danny Williams some unsolicited advice on how to beat Vitali Klitschko when they meet in New York on 11 December in the Ukrainian giant's first defence of his World Boxing Council heavyweight title. However, Williams's manager, Frank Warren, is less than impressed. "Danny doesn't need Lennox Lewis to tell him how to win," he snaps. "He'll grit his teeth and get stuck in, just like he did against Mike Tyson."

Klitschko himself is similarly dismissive of Lewis's sudden desire to be Williams's friendly counsellor. "He gave advice to Corrie Sanders, whom I beat in my last fight for the title Lewis gave up after he decided to retire rather than meet me again. It didn't help Sanders, so let's see if it helps Danny. I doubt it."

For his part Williams, still apparently pinching himself at the realisation of the opportunity his toppling of Tyson has brought him ("It's like an unbelievable dream"), says simply: "It's nice to have someone like Lennox believing in you."

Much more important, of course, is the fact that Williams now believes in himself. And while, as a Muslim, he rests up through Ramadan - he can neither eat nor train in daylight hours until 15 November - he could profitably peruse the pages of Lewis's recent biography (Mama's Boy, published by Highdown), especially those which chronicle how perilously close Lewis came to becoming a victim of "Dr Ironfist" last year.

If nothing else, Williams's investment of £18.99 for the tome would be a token payback for the couple of big favours Lewis has done him. The first was reducing Tyson to pulp, thus softening up the former champion nicely for Williams's own shock demolition job three months ago. The second was inflicting the horrendous eye wound on the 6ft 7in Klitschko which makes the current champion vulnerable to the swinging, slicing punches that Williams will be sharpening on selected beanpole sparring partners when he moves his training camp to Philadelphia next month.

Oddly enough, shopsoiled as he is, Tyson still remains on the future chopping list of both Williams and Klitschko.

"Everyone enjoyed my fight with him [presumably apart from Tyson] and I'd like to give him another shot," says Williams, while Klitschko told Williams in London last week that he "destroyed my dream" by beating Tyson. "I was commentating on their fight and wished Tyson all the best, because I wanted him to win," Klitschko said. "I was very disappointed when he didn't. I had set my heart on fighting him. In my opinion he has been one of the truly great heavyweights and I wanted to prove my skills against him. I still do. But first I have to deal with Williams. He amazed me against Tyson. He showed he has a big heart and a strong chin. He will be hard to beat."

It is not only the Ukrainian's fists that are educated. A multilinguist who has a doctorate in philosophy and sports science, he cuts a decent dash as a role-model champion. Williams is of a similarly gentlemanly mien, and it is hard to conceive that two such nice blokes shortly will be savagely belting bits off each other, almost certainly at Madison Square Garden. "Klitschko is the best heavyweight in the world, and this will be a tough fight," Williams acknowledges. And win or lose, it will be a rewarding one, with a near-£1m purse. "I didn't fight Tyson for the payday. In fact, when all the taxes and expenses were paid there wasn't much left. This is the fight that will bring me a new house and a new car."

Overcoming Klitschko will be a tall order in every sense for Brixton's hero. But his trainer, Jim McDonnell, who masterminded the strategy against Tyson, already has a gameplan. Williams is generous in his praise for the ex-European featherweight champion. "I have to give Jimmy 'nuff respect. He's never lost one bit of faith in me. He's fantastic."

Another who holds a similar view is the super-featherweight Alex Arthur, who has been training with McDonnell for his fight against the Ghanaian Eric Odumase for the IBF Inter-Continental title in Edinburgh on Friday. "Actually it's been torture," says the Scot. "But his technical knowledge is absolutely brilliant."

The Royal Highland Showground promotion sees the undefeated WBO super-middleweight champion, Joe Calzaghe, back in action after nine months following a back injury. He faces the Brooklyn-based Egyptian Kabary Salem in the 15th defence of the title he won from Chris Eubank seven years ago.

An expected win is unlikely to quell his disappointment at a proposed fight with Glencoffe Johnson for a world light-heavyweight title falling through because of that injury, especially as Johnson then went on to beat Roy Jones. Calzaghe hopes the bout can be rearranged, or a match made with the new IBF champion, Jeff Lacy, also undefeated. "I want the opportunity. I can prove I can beat the best."

Salem may not quite fit the bill in this respect, but Calzaghe says he never takes any foe for granted. "I may be a champion, but I always train with the hunger of a challenger."

Calzaghe's main concern must be that his 36-year-old opponent is something of a head case. Salem, beaten three times in 27 fights but never stopped, has been involved in several head-butting incidents, and in his last bout, against Mario Veit in Germany, was deducted two points and accidentally broke the referee's nose as the official intervened. Four years ago, American Randy Carver died after being knocked down by Salem in Kansas City. Carver's mother later sued the referee for allegedly failing to protect her son from "frequent and repeated head-butts".

"He is without doubt a dirty fighter," says Warren. "We will have to make sure the officials keep on top of him." By coincidence, one who must ensure the Egyptian keeps his head to himself is a ringside judge named Frank Cairo.

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