“Hit ‘im wiv the uppercut John!”, Danny Williams prevails

Being at the fight is a special experience. True television coverage offers you multiple camera angles, proximity and the benefit of replays for those crucial moments but no matter how effective your Dolby surround sound is or crystal clear your high definition LCD presents the pictures it cannot beat being there.

Danny Williams’ absorbing victory over Big John McDermott last Friday was a classic case in point and while it also demonstrated the benefit of being the opposite side of the ring to the breathless uttering of Adam Smith, it would seem Smith and Watt had McDermott clearly winning the bout in their Sky commentary, it also showed just how subjective scoring a fight can be.

In attendance as a paying fan, as opposed to the usually luxurious position of holding a press cred, I watched the fight as a spectacle and didn’t record a score or take notes on the round by round action. This means I cannot revert to an accurate scoring of the fight or reflect and reassess my round by round synopsis of the action. I have to rely on my instinctive summary of the contest. I had Danny winning the fight by a round, maybe two once the point deductions were considered. True, Big John performed well beyond expectation. I’ve seen him live several times and this was the most focused and fired up I’ve ever seen him, as well you might expect given the magnitude of the task. It is in this unexpected success that I believe many observers have been hypnotised. Barnsley can hit the post in the semi-final but it doesn’t mean they’ve won the cup.

Glen McCrory, a worthy opinion given his own history and achievements in the ring, was encouraged by John’s success, most notably in the fifth round when he had Danny reeling for over a minute. McCrory further suggested “that fifth round when he bashed Danny up was enough to take the British belt” in an article entitled Friday Fight Night for paymaster Sky Sports. An observation belying McCrory’s usually balanced perspective. The suggestion one round can win you a British title or any fight for that matter is so mathematically ludicrous it barely requires contradiction. Admittedly, Williams could easily have been stopped by referee Dave Parris, but he clung on and never touched down. Still, it was sufficient domination from the challenger to justify a 10-8 round but whatever the permutations of the other rounds it couldn’t justify a victory in isolation. McCrory’s comments strike me as eye catching but both misleading and unhelpful.

Referee Parris offered Williams more latitude in that round than I’ve seen from a British referee in some time, compatriots Terry O’Connor and Ian John-Lewis would both, one suspects, have intervened during that fifth round and though that latitude helped soothe some of the angst the late point deductions for low blows, a push with the forearm and spitting out his gum shield accrued among the neutrals, it is important to remember why Williams was afforded so much ‘rope’ in that fifth session.

Williams earned the benefit of the doubt. Gutsy performances versus Potter, Tyson and Klitschko will all have swirled in Parris’ mind, those performances in victory and defeat afforded Williams every opportunity to cling on to his British title, it wasn’t lenient officiating, it was officiating based on experience and the fighter in question. For all his other idiosyncrasies, once in the trenches the Brixton man has a heart the size of a bath-tub and Parris realised it where others would have acted with more haste. Parris deserves applause as did Mickey Vann when kicking the towel back out of the ring during Earl v Katsidis last year.

Promoter Frank Maloney, was incandescent at the decision. Forcefully telling Simon Block, Secretary of the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC) off air that the result “was a joke” and the more vociferous McDermott fans who’d packed the Goresbrook Leisure Centre voiced their disgust at the verdict. I’d have loved to have asked them the rounds they believed John had won, from recollection I would say the 1st, 5th and maybe one or two of the later rounds when both fighters were regrouping following the monumental fifth. True many sessions were uneventful, but too often McDermott held and tied up the champion (without a note of warning from referee Dave Parris) to legitimately lay claim to many rounds with any assurance.

Commenting on his own website, FrankMaloney.com, Maloney also believed the late deductions swung the fight in McDermott’s favour and while they clearly made the decision closer they didn’t win him rounds, merely reduced Williams aggregate score because in truth, John McDermott – for all his surprising competitiveness – claimed perhaps only 4 or 5 ’10’s’ across the whole 12 rounds. Whether Maloney’s more inflammatory comments regarding the ability of the judges and his suggestion they’d “picked the winner before the fight” will be the subject of scrutiny from the BBBofC remains to be seen.

In closing, the fight ultimately confirmed Danny Williams potential has probably been exhausted and horizons beyond the British title appear theoretical rather than realistic and for the challenger it provided some confirmation of his credentials at British title level and that beneath the mild-mannered, undefined exterior lies a pretty solid heavyweight.

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