James Lawton: In mourning for big fights of Las Vegas

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The Independent Online

En route to Las Vegas for the world heavyweight title fight between Vitali Klitschko and Britain's Danny Williams, there is, inevitably, an old stirring of that anticipation which is familiar to almost anyone who has attended a big fight. But there is an ache too.

En route to Las Vegas for the world heavyweight title fight between Vitali Klitschko and Britain's Danny Williams, there is, inevitably, an old stirring of that anticipation which is familiar to almost anyone who has attended a big fight. But there is an ache too.

It is nearly two years since the garish fight capital put on a show of compelling interest to the British public - it was judged to be Roy Jones's eye-catching circumnavigation of the laboured John Ruiz - and, let's be honest, it is Williams' nationality rather than his credentials which makes this latest trek something of a professional obligation.

Earlier this year Williams conquered a formidable army of personal demons to demolish all that was left of what was once Mike Tyson - heaven knows, it wasn't a lot - and if he conjures victory over the big man from Ukraine, who two years ago came close to ambushing Lennox Lewis, no one will be inclined to question the point of their presence at ringside.

However, it is still necessary to mourn those days when Las Vegas supplied a menu of so many fights which couldn't be missed. Sugar Ray Leonard v Tommy Hearns was maybe the best of all those which came with the breathtaking convergence of those fighters with such as Marvin Hagler and Roberto Duran. Later, Tyson, Holyfield, Lewis and Bowe kept alive the belief that there would always be big fights to attend, occasions which Muhammad Ali likened to the pursuit of a beautiful woman, something that for a little while filled all your senses and made you feel as though you were at the centre of the world.

Klitschko-Williams may not be of that order, but we attend in the hope that by the end of the night we can convince ourselves we have seen something like a big fight. If not, we can listen to the locals tells us about the recent glory of Marco Antonio Barrera and his Mexican rival Erik Morales. Then we can muse all over again about how it used to be.

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