Torture of Williams leads to temptation for Lewis

When Danny Williams suffered a form of crucifixion here in the small hours of yesterday morning - his pain was slow and relentless at the hands of the defending champion, Vitali Klitschko, and the outcome was never in doubt - it seemed that heavyweight boxing had simply nowhere to turn.

Except, that is, to arguably the best preserved near 40-year-old in the history of sport's roughest trade. In its desperation, would boxing go back to the man who last year retired in possession of the linear World Boxing Council title, Lennox Lewis, with any other prospect but another cold rebuff? Mischievously, Lewis suggested it just might.

He admitted that at one point in the torture of the hopelessly outclassed Williams he had an urge to throw down his broadcasting equipment and say, "step aside Danny, let me sort this out". The worry must be that boxing is now desperate enough to throw many millions at indulging such a whim. With the potential for such madness in the air - Don King, after all, was in the building - there was only one certainty.

It was that at any point past the first round, when Williams suffered the first of four knockdowns and sustained a cut over his right eye, the chances were that the bewildered man from Brixton wouldn't have known the difference between an act of deliverance by Lewis and a dire insult.

When the referee, Jay Nady, waved the fight over one minute and 26 seconds into the eighth round the only possible reaction was relief. Wayne McCullough, the former bantamweight world champion from Belfast who took terrible beatings from Naseem Hamad and Erik Morales, dryly, sadly, had the most charitable reaction, saying: "Danny showed tremendous courage, but that doesn't win world titles - I know." The inescapable truth was that Williams never looked for a moment anything other than the journeyman to whom the boxing fates so randomly assigned the job of ransacking the last pickings of Mike Tyson in Louisville last summer.

That piece of bizarre happenstance persuaded Williams and his trainer, Jim McDonnell, that he had an earthly chance of having a similar impact on the unseductive but vigorously applied talent of the champion, Klitschko, and that he might possibly do it while carrying 19st 4lb as the joint heaviest participant in a title fight.

It was speculation from a boxing madhouse and Williams paid the price with a visit to the hospital and the sober advice from his promoter and manager, Frank Warren, that he should carefully consider his future.

Williams emerged from hospital weary and somewhat crestfallen but he insisted, "I still want to continue. I take inspiration from Frank Bruno, who lost two world title fights and then went on to win the crown."

But Warren said: "Danny can't go on taking punishment like that. I would like to see him giving himself the chance of spending his money."

Williams, who had some of that spending power put on hold before the fight when the Nevada Athletic Commission were informed of demands of $60,000 (£31,000) and $90,000 respectively by Dwight Yardy, who claimed to be the fighter's manager, and the American tax authorities, seemed more inclined to learn the brutal lessons of the night than his trainer.

While Williams, who it is estimated will earn more than $1m when British television rights are included, admitted that watching videos of the champion had given him no real idea of the difficulty of facing him - and that long before the end he knew that he was being beaten by the better man - McDonnell still seemed to be living in the Louisville warp of both time and reality.

He said: "We've had Danny checked out and he's A1 OK. He will come back fighting. I just can't see him retiring. Everything I said about Vitali Klitschko is true. He was exhausted by round four. There's no way Danny is packing up. It was frustrating he got cut in the first round, though it was a good shot.

"From the moment he came back to the corner at the end of the first round Danny didn't once complain. Klitschko is safety first and even after seeing the damage he had done he wasn't looking to finish things off. Danny thought he had let everybody down but I told him he hadn't because of his courage."

Out of this jumble of non sequiturs, Williams may one day be able to settle on one point of unchallenged truth. It was that at every point of his ordeal he did indeed display astonishing courage. Four times Klitschko invited him to surrender, starting in the first round when the 6ft 8in Ukrainian, having landed a series of jabs with ridiculous ease, put Williams down with a right hand that carried a lot more effect then aesthetic glory.

The fact is that Klitschko, by his own admission, is a mechanical fighter. Earlier we had seen one of superb natural fluency in the 24-year-old Puerto Rican Miguel Cotto, who retained his World Boxing Organisation junior welterweight championship with a technical knock-out over the former champion Randall Bailey. Cotto's combinations were beautifully sculpted and confirmed the view of aficionados that the great crisis of the sport is concentrated among the big men. Here we had the confirming evidence as Williams was systematically stripped bare by Klitschko.

Before the fight Williams and McDonnell had taunted the Ukrainian with the charge that he was a robot. The champion smiled thinly, and agreed. He said: "It is true my style is ugly, but you know it is very effective."

There were times when Klitschko might have been exacting a sadistic revenge. His long left hand landed on Williams's head as relentlessly as the workings of a grandfather clock. His uppercuts and hooks and right crosses were delivered as chilling formalities. Each one announced that in a time of desperate scarcity, Klitschko is unquestionably the heavyweight of the moment. He put Williams down in the first, third, seventh and eighth rounds, and said later: "Danny Williams hit me with some hard punches and I was surprised by his iron chin and his heart. I have pain in my hands from so many punches."

How many punches? The statistics tell a story of grotesque authority. Klitschko connected with 296 of the 519 shots he threw. Williams landed 44 of 193. Ninety-nine of Klitschko's jabs were on target, against six of Williams'. When the fight was halted, Klitschko led by 11 points on one card, 10 on the other two. It was the accountancy of a slaughter.

Klitschko's next challenger will be Hasim Rahman, who paid a terrible price in this town for ambushing Lewis early one Johannesburg morning - a crushing right hand that retrieved the WBC title and spoke of a talent for unleashing destructive power that in the end made him unique.

Lewis stood amid a crowd of courtiers and gave his successor carefully measured praise. "There's no doubt Klitschko is the best out there. He's the right champion, but it's hard to say that he did his reputation much good tonight. The difference in class was too great. Klitschko is a difficult fighter, but there's no doubt he is the boss of a B crop. I felt sorry for Danny Williams, he couldn't quit because of his pride but also because he was fighting for the world title and he knew this was his only chance. So that keeps you going long past the point where you suspect you are beaten.

"When I see a fight like this I have to admit it is tempting to think of coming back. This is because I think it would be so easy to do the job, but then I also think that Klitschko and boxing needs me a lot more than I need them. I also think, what do I need to prove?" Around about this time Danny Williams was having his brain scanned. If Lennox Lewis was making more than a passing joke, you might have been bold enough to suggest that he was possibly in need of similar attention.

News
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Arts and Entertainment
Worldwide ticket sales for The Lion King musical surpassed $6.2bn ($3.8bn) this summer
tvMusical is biggest grossing show or film in history
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drink
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst/ Project Manager - Financial Services

£60000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client in the Financial...

Science Teacher

£85 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunity for Secondary ...

Year 6 Teacher - Flintshire

Negotiable: Randstad Education Chester: Key Stage 2 Teachers needed in Flintsh...

Year 6 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Chester: Year 6 Teachers urgently needed for su...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits