Williams takes revenge to spark rush for signature

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The Independent Online

Danny Williams discovered he has a future in the boxing business on Saturday night and during the next 48 hours he will try and pick a promoter and a television company.

At the Wembley Conference Centre, in front of an unusually large crowd, Williams retained his British and Commonwealth heavyweight titles when he connected cleanly with a short left upper cut to the eye socket of Julius Francis and sent the older man down and out.

Over two years ago Francis easily beat Williams in a fight that set the Brixton boxer back and raised questions about his mental approach to a sport where having big muscles is not enough. On Saturday, it finally looked like Williams was using both his head and his body and, in a heavyweight who weighs nearly 18 stone, that can look impressive.

However, the real fight now begins and in reality is just a continuation of the four weeks of negotiating that Williams allowed himself to undertake before the Francis fight. The boxer is out of contract with his long-suffering promoter Frank Warren and, after initially refusing to sign an extended contract, he started to make enquiries with other obviously interested promoters.

On Saturday, as Williams was going through his warm-up exercises, various rumours were circulating at ringside and when the boxer had conducted his business in the ring and left for his changing room the rumours intensified.

Warren believed his offers to Williams are more than fair and, considering that they have been together since Williams turned professional in 1995, he appears to have a case. Under Warren's guidance he has lost just once and has been skilfully manoeuvred within the various ranking systems of the sport's sanctioning bodies.

Williams disagreed and as soon as he opened his ears to offers they started to arrive. It is known that he has had extensive meetings with Panos Eliades, the former promoter of Lennox Lewis, who has several quality boxers but at the moment, for some bizarre reason, is between broadcasters.

A few months ago Sky dropped Eliades from their schedule and so far the BBC, whose boxing policy is both entertaining and erratic, have not yet delivered enough dates to make Eliades a player again.

Williams will meet the BBC's boxing task force at White City in west London today and then sit down tomorrow with Warren, possibly somewhere on the Algarve, to make his decision. It is understood that the drawback with the BBC deal is that they are unable to front Williams a large signing-on fee. Warren agreed to Saturday's title fight taking place because he believed in the end that Williams would re-sign. He could be wrong. Williams impressed the BBC on Saturday and they are keen to add his name to their list of fighters.

* World light-heavyweight champion Roy Jones knocked down Julio Gonzalez three times on Saturday as he defended his titles with a unanimous 12-round points win. Jones exposed the previously undefeated Gonzalez as rugged but slow and inexperienced. Jones knocked Gonzalez down in the first and fifth rounds with left hooks to the head and again in the final round with a left-right combination.