Boxing: Williams has edge in war of attrition

Williams wins as Amir takes another step forward with impressive victory

Danny Williams continues to confound. The Brixton heavyweight who thumped Tyson and humbled Harrison was a 2-1 underdog to retain his Commonwealth title against the unbeaten Matt Skelton, but he did so over 12 rounds on a split decision in a blistering duel at London's ExCel Centre last night.

Skelton, previously unbeaten in 18 contests, and the British champion, claimed he had done enough to win in a bout that was never going to be pretty but the resilience of Williams, who has the gift of the jab, saw the Londoner through.

The decisive marking came from judge Dave Parris by 116-113, while his fellow adjudicators, Richie Davies and Ian John Lewis, marked the contest 115-114 respectively to each boxer. My own assessment was a draw and such was the intensity of the bout that the promoter, Frank Warren, will almost certainly arrange a rematch, perhaps even in preference to seeking an immediate world title fight for his man, Williams.

The 19st-plus Williams had the better ring pedigree of the pair, if not the consistency and temperament. But his punches are clean and hurtful whereas the 39-year-old from Bedford is a mauler who loves a ruck.

Skelton, a former kick-boxer, did everything but put gloves on his feet, and surely a stricter referee than Terry O'Connor, himself a former heavyweight, would have deducted at least two points for various irregularities. Ironically, Skelton, who had used his head throughout the fight, finished with a deep gash on his crown suffered in a storming finish from Williams that probably clinched him the decision.

Williams had to recover from the effect of a right upper cut in the second round, which momentarily stunned him, and there were times when it seemed he might wilt under the sustained pressure of Skelton's roughhouse tactics. "Man, that was tough,'' Williams said. "He's a real warrior. But I'd be happy for a rematch and I hope this makes up for that dreadful fight with Audley Harrison.''

Amir Khan took another sure-footed step along the path towards superstardom that he and his mentors have plotted with the sixth, and best, victory of his professional career, stopping Jackson Williams, a trainee sports science teacher from Norwich, after 2min 18sec of the third round following a razzle dazzle blitz of body punches.

Bolton's 19-year-old Olympic silver medallist is determined to proceed at his own pace, ignoring those who would push him into overstretching his burgeoning ability against that which is currently beyond his reach.

There can be no criticism of last night's 24-year-old opponent, a full blown light-welterweight, who came with a decent record of 12 wins in 15 bouts and an endorsement from Boxing News magazine who called him "ideal'' for Amir at this stage.

Indeed he was in that he came to fight and knew the business, though he could not match Amir for speed or punching power. But the teacher set the pupil an interesting examination and finally succumbed after three knock-downs - one in the second round and two in the third - from the sheer bewildering speed of Amir's punches.

From the start they came at him with whiplash ferocity. Jackson's nickname may be "Action'' but he was given little chance to live up to it, being cuffed, clipped and generally outpunched and outmanoeuvred. "He gave me a good test," Khan said. "We've been working on the body shots. But there's more to come and there's a long way to go. But before you know it, I'll be ready to fight for the world title.''

Not quite yet but maybe in a year or so. His next fight is in Glasgow on 25 March. His ring walk is to "The Road To Amarillo''. He is proceeding nicely along the road to greatness, too.

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