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Last Updated: Sunday, 25 January, 2004, 16:10 GMT
Chaos reigns at heavyweight
By Alex Trickett
BBC Sport at Wembley Conference Centre

Michael Sprott
Will Sprott be champion for long?

Looking back, the omens for Danny Williams v Michael Sprott III were bad.

Fans rolled into Wembley - itself devoid of a focal point while the new stadium is being built - hoping for an emphatic end to a heavyweight trilogy.

But they left with no sense of resolution after a controversial points decision in favour of the challenger Sprott.

Between first bell and last was played out a meandering bout that raised more questions about the state of British top-weight boxing than it answered.

Everything about the contest was indecisive.

For chunks of the fight, defending British and Commonwealth champion Williams did not look like he wanted to be there.

He was warned for showboating and asked by referee Dave Parris in round five: "Do you want to fight or play?"

Williams even showed worrying glimpses of the disillusionment that drove Oliver McCall from the ring in tears against Lennox Lewis back in 1997.

Challenger Sprott, on the other hand, was focused at the start.

I was messing about too much - I came in thinking it would be a walk in the park
Danny Williams

But he was very tentative towards the end, displaying little conviction that he could beat the man who had knocked him out twice.

Referee Parris has come in for stinging criticism from the Williams camp, but he cannot be faulted for having doubts over how to score a poor fight.

Sprott showed the early promise, while Williams was the stronger and more potent boxer when he chose to engage.

The dethroned champion, one suspects, was ultimately penalised by Parris for his lackadaisical approach, losing by the odd round 115-114.

So what does this leave us, beyond the sorry prospect of Sprott v Williams IV?

Audley Harrison
Will Harrison be the man to benefit from Sprott v Williams III?

A disappointed Williams told BBC Sport that he had been "robbed" and had duly complained to the British Board of Boxing Control.

But Williams also admitted that he lacked focus despite training hard for the fight.

"I was messing about too much. Sprott had more to prove - he was hyped. I came in thinking it would be a walk in the park."

The 30-year-old would not rule out a fourth fight against Sprott, but vowed to step up his chase for European and world titles despite the loss.

"I'll be looking for named American fighters to re-establish myself," he said.

Sprott, who slowed to a virtual halt in the penultimate round and looked - if anything - embarrassed by his points victory, would not commit to a rematch.

"Who wants to see Sprott v Williams IV?" he asked.

On this evidence, few people would, but the fate of the British and Commonwealth belts is now in Sprott's unconvincing hands.

Clearly, world champ Lennox Lewis will not be drawn out of his lethargy for either of these two fighters.

But Olympic champion Audley Harrison might be.

Cynics maintain that "A-Force" was running scared of Williams, who - at 18-plus stone - has the power to hurt him.

But Harrison, who spent 2003 boxing in America, will surely be tempted back to Britain by the prospect of taking on Sprott.

Perhaps the door opening at last for Harrison will bring a chink of light to this dark night in British boxing.


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