Closing the Daws?
Adam Smith wonders if Steve Williams can beat Lenny Daws and join an illustrious list of 10-stone champions.
Last Updated: 08/07/10 9:08am
The light-welterweights have certainly dished up plenty of thrills and spills in recent years with their blend of speed, power and relentless aggression; particularly on home soil.
The Lonsdale belt was originally created in 1909, but the light-welterweight division was a late starter on our shores. The first British 10-stone fight was on January 27th, 1968, when Des Rea won a 15-round decision over Vic Andretti.
The title has been held by many of our finest fighters; some even used it as a launch-pad to world honours like Terry Marsh, Ricky Hatton and Junior Witter.
Other notable names to win the British light-welterweight crown include Dave 'Boy' Green (1976-77), Clinton McKenzie, who enjoyed a long reign in the early 80's, Tony McKenzie, Lloyd Christie, Pat Barrett, Tony Ekubia and Andy Holligan.
The exciting duo of Ross Hale and Paul 'Scrap Iron' Ryan were on the scene when I started at Sky in the mid 90's; then Mark Winters and Jason Rowland followed. In 2000, Hatton overcame that savage first round cut - and Jon Thaxton's bravery - to become British light-welterweight champion.
Lately, we've seen the Hitman's arch rival Junior Witter rule, before the belt became a bit of a hot potato as it was passed around. Lenny Daws, Barry Morrison, Colin Lynes, David Barnes, Paul McCloskey and Ajose Olusegun all held the crown at certain times.
Daws regained the British belt by stopping Barry Morrison for the vacant title in 2009, and then just about fended off a decent challenge from veteran Welshman Jason Cook to grab a hard-fought draw in February.
This Friday Fight Night, we're back at the home of British boxing - the York Hall, Bethnal Green - where the fans just love Lenny Daws. Backed by his 'Morden Massive', Lenny always gives everything, has a huge will to win, and possesses a ferocious work-rate.
For the second defence, in his second reign as the British light-welterweight champion, he faces Liverpool's unbeaten, solid and decent attacking force Steve Williams. Every time this fight has been promoted in recent weeks, my colleague Jim Watt has literally licked his lips. He likes this clash, and so do I.
This should be a stylistic treat. Both are come-forward aggressive boxers who throw bundles of punches, have big hearts and even bigger engines!
Daws probably has the advantage in speed, ringcraft and professional knowledge, but Williams has really impressed, passing every test so far, and he's been maturing well. The Merseysider appears to be one of those old-fashioned, no-nonsense fighters. Rather like his co-trainer Jimmy 'Shea' Neary was a few years back!
The Shamrock Express was a real battler who gave us scores of exciting light-welterweight nights against the likes of Andy Holligan, Micky Ward and Eamonn Magee.
Shea's even been donning the gloves again to spar with Williams before his biggest night. George Schofield guided Shea's career, and he told me that Williams,The Wallasey Express, reminds him hugely of Neary.
This latest 10-stone clash will surely be a lively, non-stop affair which could go either way. Daws finds it tough to continually make the weight, but is so hard to beat.
He can start slowly (like in that recent defence against Jason Cook), so Williams has to jump on him quickly. But is it too soon for the Liverpool lad who's only had nine outings? Does he know enough? Is he good enough?
Expect a high-octane battle, and expect Williams to rise a level - as so many boxers do - for his first British title tilt.
I was leaning towards Daws to come through in a tough, enjoyable fight, sensing that Williams may lack the experience.
Yet, I have changed my mind on this one and I'm now picking the underdog to be too young, fresh and hard for the brave champion. Williams to somehow prevail! I really believe it could be one of THE domestic dust-ups of the year!
Our sparkling former amateur star and rising light-welterweight Frankie Gavin - who was watching future foe Curtis Woodhouse very closely at ringside last week - will again be tuning in. Gavin's targeting the British belt by Christmas!
Daws, Williams and Gavin all looked up to Ricky Hatton - he really was the perfect example of what makes the light-welterweights such an attractive division.
The Hitman was stocky, fast, fiery, classy, and you couldn't take your eyes off him/ Remember too, my good friend has yet to announce his official retirement. Could more excitement lie ahead...?
One member of the Hatton household is still very much flying the family flag. Unheralded, under-appreciated, but hard-working, Matthew defends his recently-acquired European welterweight title on July 16th, and next week I will be assessing the younger brother's rise...
In the meantime, Enjoy Daws-Williams on Friday, and let me know who your favourite British 10-stone great is?
Is it Hatton or Witter? Marsh or McKenzie? Who is your favourite light-welterweight down the years? Fill in the feedback form below...