Boxing: Williams shocked by Sprott victory

Danny Williams has used six trainers since turning professional in 1995 but it is impossible to change a career of self-doubt, and on Saturday that led to defeat.

Williams lost his British and Commonwealth heavyweight titles to Michael Sprott in a fight that contained many bizarre distractions. Sprott won by a single point according to Dave Parris, the referee, but opinion was divided inside the Wembley Conference Centre. Sprott had lost twice to Williams, and in their last encounter in September he was knocked out clean in five brutal rounds.

At the fight's conclusion Williams seemed genuinely shocked and later claimed that he had held back in the belief that he was so far in front. His trainer, Jim McDonnell, and manager, Adam Booth, agreed and immediately lodged a complaint with the British Boxing Board of Control. During the fight Williams repeatedly turned away, extended his hand in front of his body as if he was praying and often twisted his head in small circles above his huge neck. Even Sprott is convinced that Williams is the better fighter, but boxing is also about mental strength and on Saturday night Williams was again exposed in that area.

The now semi-retired heavyweight champion of the world, Lennox Lewis, has until 15 March to decide if he will defend his World Boxing Council title again. The WBC had told Lewis to make his mind up by next Friday but it hasextended the deadline to its biggest money-spinner.

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