Back in the late 1990’s Carl “Iron Fist” Davis was an NFL prospect, he was 6’6” 265lbs of pure muscle and he ran a 4.5 40yard dash (for those who don’t know, that’s fast, as fast most NFL wide receivers). Carl made a few NFL camps and played several seasons in the Arena League as a Defensive End before he turned to boxing. Carl went on to become a nationally ranked Amateur before turning professional and getting signed by Don King Promotions. He was making a run at a title shot when he was stopped by former title contender DaVarryl Williamson last year. Since that loss Carl has dropped over 40lbs and become an instant contender as a Cruiserweight.
Back in the late 90’s Arthur Williams was in a very different place as well. He had climbed to the tip top of the Cruiserweight Division and had that IBF belt fastened securely around his waist. Williams was a heavy handed, gritty champion who was dethroned by none other than arguably the greatest Cruiserweight of his time Vassiliy Jirov. Since then Williams has continued to fight, remaining in or near the top ten though he hasn’t since fought for a major title.
The IBO has a USA title belt called the USBO, similar to the USBA and the NABF which have always been a strong gauge for calibrating the true contenders in the States and North America in general. When Carl Davis and Arthur Williams got matched up this past December 17th at the UIC Pavilion the IBO decided to put their vacant USBO belt on the line.
They say an old champion never loses their power and Williams showed he still had plenty of umph early on; catching Davis twice with left hooks that sent tremors through Carl’s knees though Williams didn’t seem to have enough spark left to jump on his opponent and finish; and Carl to his credit weathered the storm.
Though this was a Cruiserweight championship bout it had all the suspense of a Heavyweight championship with both fighters easily able to hurt the other with one clean blow. And when Carl did place that right uppercut through Williams’ guard the sound of the deep collision was akin to a metal ball bat that just got a good piece of 16 inch soft ball. Williams was clearly out on his feet as he swayed and sagged against the ropes which were all that kept him from falling out flat. The crowd erupted though Carl didn’t jump on William’s either, just stepped back as Williams slouched helplessly dazed and the referee stepped in ruling that the ropes where all the held Williams up and gave him the equivalent of a standing eight count. Williams dug deep into that champions well of courage and refused to wilt stepping right back into the pocket after absorbing the tremendous shot.
The fight pressed on though it was clear that there were three distinct battles taking place in that ring. The one between Davis and Williams and the one between Davis and himself; coming of his KO defeat, struggling to find a rhythm, setting down and leaning on his right leg as he waited to land that end-all right cross or uppercut that would ignite the kites in Williams aging knee’s.
Then there was the struggle between Williams and himself; the IBF Champion that he was and the ghost of that champion who was plodding after Davis, batting down jabs, striving to place that left hook.
The hardest and most devastating thing for an aging champ isn’t the lack of quickness and reflexes; it’s the power that never leaves their legs, back, and hands. It’s the hope that-that world class power brings. The knowledge that all he has to do is get up off that stool walk across that ring and hit that man hard-that young man who he’s already hurt. There’s a blind pure hope in that and even though the entire arena can see that it’s over for him; it’s that blind hope that keeps them rising from that stool, keeps them taking bombs on the chin from younger fighters-fighters in the full bloom of their prime. It’s the hope that dismantles these great former champions; breaks them down, hurts them permanent. And that’s just one of the many tragedies of this game we call boxing.
Carl did plenty to win the USBO belt that night. He took a couple mean shots and landed a few more of his own. He outworked Williams scored a knock down and got that USBO belt wrapped around him as result.
If Davis can take part of a page from his days as an amateur; when he was out in Spennymore England and threw over a hundred punches per round en route to defeating an equally big and busy Nationally ranked English Superheavyweight; things might change for the better. Not that he should be firing seven punch combinations but that 1-2 he was relying on against Williams just isn’t enough. If Davis could either add a jab at the beginning or a left hook at the end or maybe both and make it a four punch combo; stand tall and take advantage of his 6’6” height, listen to his camp and keep that right hand high-glued to his temple, he could make serious noise in the Cruiserweight division; even snag that IBF title belt that was once, many years ago, owned by ‘King’ Arthur Williams.