Saturday 31st July 2004
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Tyson v Williams: Round by round

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World Champions

Jamie Hunt reports

Few gave him a chance. Neither Mike Tyson's camp, nor the throng of attending boxing media.

Certainly none of the 15,000 crowd in Louisville, Kentucky, gathered to cheer on the baddest man on earth, predicted anything other than a Mike Tyson knockout win.

But Englishman Danny Williams, pooped their party, big time, as they are accustomed to say in the USA.

An inglorious career for Williams finally took off in resounding fashion in America's deep south, in the early hours of Saturday morning back in London, when 38-year-old former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, lay slumped against the ropes, unable to refind his feet.

He looked stunned at what had just happened. After five minutes composing himself, he was helped from the ring, and without comment, withdrew to his dressing room, perhaps for the last time.

Less than twenty minutes earlier though, Tyson must have thought that everything was going to plan, and that his prophecy, to get in the ring in another comeback fight, and 'inflict some serious damage', was about to come true.

Tyson squared up to Williams, and with the speed for which he was renowned in his glory years, tore into his heavier and younger opponent with a savage tirade of upper cuts, swinging right arms and jabs.

Only ninety seconds into the bout and Williams looked to be heading to a fourth defeat that may have consigned him to the scrap-heap of British heavyweight boxers.

But the courage that many in Tyson's camp felt Williams was missing, was there in abundance for the Londoner.

He hung on, and then, how he retaliated.

Weathering the final minute's storm of the first round, Williams returned to his corner for refreshment and emerged knowing that the hardest part of the job was done.

Tyson came with more, and continued to cause trouble, in particular with the upper cut, but Williams knew his chin could take it, and that at 38-years old, Iron Mike's punches would diminish in quantity and power.

Each time Tyson struck a blow, Williams replied in kind, and with nineteen stone behind each punch, they took their toll.

In the third round Tyson tried to bully Williams into the corners and continue to land his punches, but Williams' replies were now more effective.

Referee Dennis Alfred tried to intervene, first for what he called an elbow from Williams and then for a low blow, docking two points from the Briton, but Tyson fights don't go the distance, and points weren't a problem.

Midway through the third round Tyson had a cut around his right eye, but it was the lack of air in his near forty-year old lungs that was the real problem.

In the fourth round he finally ran out of puff.

Williams seized his moment like a gladiator, throwing twenty unanswered punches. Left upper cut, right hook, repeat. Tyson swung back bravely but only connected with fresh air.

The damage was done, the defence was down, and sooner or later the legs had to give. The former champ was on the ropes and then on the floor.

Alfred counted to six, but Tyson wasn't getting up. This was neither what the fans, nor the TV executives had paid to see.

He sent Williams to a neutral corner, pausing the count and giving Tyson an extra five seconds, but he'd have needed a five minutes to collect himself - Bambi on ice was a better bet by this stage.

Alfred could delay no longer, and he duly completed the count. The Williams camp erupted, but Tyson sat blanked-faced with his back against the ropes, a sad figure contemplating what could be the last of his last hurrahs.

And for Williams, the night was about to get even better.

Not content with flooring one of the all-time great boxers, he had to go and get the girl as well. Marriage proposal delivered and accepted in the ring, in front of the cameras.

Perhaps the TV execs could be happy after all. They had drama, a great champion, a plucky underdog, the girl and the happy ending.