Boxing: Perfection in preparation holds the key for Williams
Saturday 04 December 2004
It has been a long month for Danny Williams and his trainer, Jim McDonnell, but the pair are now relaxed and happy with just one week to go before next Saturday's fight.
Williams and McDonnell flew to America on 3 November for a series of press conferences and media opportunities which are now part of the build-up for any world heavyweight title fight.
When Williams climbs through the ropes next Saturday at the Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, to challenge Ukraine's Vitali Klitschko for the World Boxing Council title he knows that there is absolutely nothing else that he could have done to prepare himself.
"I sat with Danny before we left and I went over everything that could go wrong and everything that could go right and we had a counter-plan for every move,'' said McDonnell.
"Being a challenger in a foreign country and a dangerous challenger at that, means that we will be up against it and I was determined to make sure that nothing caught us out.
"Even before we left for Las Vegas I had made arrangements for us to move out of the hotel and into a secret and private house because that was the way that boxers did it in the old days.
"When we arrived, the suite at the Mandalay Bay was fantastic but we both knew that it would be stupid to stay there so we spent just a couple of nights before moving permanently to the house,'' said McDonnell.
At first there were a lot of media requests and media commitments, but Williams was able to satisfy everybody and when he had to fly from Las Vegas to New York he made sure that he was gone less than 24 hours so that he never interrupted his training schedule.
As the fight date has moved closer, it has also become clear that Williams is in a perfect frame of mind to once again pull off an enormous heavyweight shock, just as he did when he knocked out Mike Tyson in July of this year.
On that occasion, Williams was the underdog and a late replacement and he was given very little chance of surviving, let alone winning.
"Before the Tyson fight we didn't have much time to get our act together, but we managed and we managed very well to find the ideal sparring,'' continued McDonnell, who as a professional held both the British and European super-featherweight titles back in the Eighties.
"I remember sitting with Danny in the weeks before the Tyson fight and telling him that one night would change his life forever, and that night would be against Tyson, and I've been telling him the same thing during the last few weeks.
"Danny is a brilliant fighter to train because he absorbs everything and he is capable, as he showed against Tyson, of putting everything into practice even if he is under terrible pressure,'' added McDonnell.
During their time in Las Vegas, the duo have been helped by Sterling McPherson,, partner of the promoter Frank Warren, who is known as Mr Vegas because of his connections in the gambling city.
"I have made sure that everything has run smoothly for Danny and I think that will give him an edge because if a heavyweight is relaxed then he increases his chances of winning,'' claimed McPherson, who in the past has looked after several leading heavyweights.
One of the first things that McPherson did, even before Williams and McDonnell arrived, was to locate all of the tall heavyweights in the various Las Vegas gyms and go and watch them all spar. Klitschko is nearly five inches taller than Williams and obviously the British boxer needed sparring partners of a similar height.
"It was no good just signing up tall fighters. I needed to know that they could actually fight and not just get in the ring and run away,'' added McPherson.
"Working with Jim we have both managed to find some quality heavyweights that are over 6ft 5in and Danny has benefited from all the hard work,'' said McPherson.
Williams will complete his sparring this weekend and just have light work-outs next week as the final countdown begins in earnest with the arrival of the world's media for what has become an intriguing fight. Klitschko is based in Los Angeles, but it has taken him a long time to receive the recognition he deserves, and Williams became an instant favourite with the American public when he blasted Tyson back in July.
For McDonnell, next week's championship fight is something that he has been working towards for over a decade as a trainer, but he knows that leaving Las Vegas with the WBC belt will not be easy, but he also knows that it is not an impossibility. He said: "I understand why Vitali is the favourite, but to be honest with you I have seen signs of doubt on his face when we have met and I think that he realises that he is going to be in the fight of his life when the first bell sounds.''
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