LONDON, Feb 26 (Reuters) Danny Williams retained his Commonwealth heavyweight title with a narrow points victory over British champion Matt Skelton in a thrilling 12-round bout at the ExCel centre in London's Docklands.
The 32-year-old Williams yesterday won the bruising contest on a split decision after a full-blooded attack in the final round including a right upper cut that left Skelton, who finished with blood gushing from the top of his head, struggling to stay on his feet.
The judges scored the fight 115-114, 114-115 and 116-113 in Williams's favour as his last round heroics tipped the balance in the holder's favour enabling him to hand valiant 39-year-old Skelton his first defeat in 19 professional fights.
''That was a very hard fight,'' Williams told ITV Sport.
''Skelton came to fight. He's a warrior, a true warrior. He's very awkward. He comes from K-1 (kick boxing) so he has a very unorthodox style and that's why he has got so far so quickly.''
Promoter Frank Warren is now hoping to get Williams a world title fight with Russian Nikolay Valuev, the 7ft-2in 23-stone World Boxing Association champion known as the 'Beast from the East' for his menacing appearance, later this year.
''I would love to make the fight (with Valuev),'' Williams told ITV Sport. ''I would get myself in even better condition for that fight,'' he added, having avoided the cakes he loves so much to get in shape for his punishing showdown with Skelton.
Asked about the possibility of another fight between Williams and Skelton, Warren said: ''What a tremendous rematch if I can't make a world title fight by the summer. I thought it was a very close fight. I'm pleased for Danny and for Matt.'' Williams, whose career seemed over when he was stopped by former World Boxing Council champion Vitali Klitschko in 2004, won the vacant Commonwealth title by beating former Olympic champion Audley Harrison at the same venue last December.
Williams, whose only claim to fame is a fourth-round knockout of a fading Mike Tyson before his Klitschko fight, said he hoped Saturday's all-action bout with Skelton would help erase the memory of his very dull contest with Harrison.
Earlier on Saturday, Britain's 19-year-old Olympic silver medallist Amir Khan recorded his sixth straight professional win when he stopped light-welterweight Jackson Williams in three rounds after a left uppercut and a series of body shots.