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Forgotten Champions: Charles Williams


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With his moniker "Prince", Charles Williams was an outstanding fighter. Early on in his career, he had a smooth boxing style but also power to booth. After he won the IBF light heavyweight title, his style changed for some reason and drastically too. He became a typical brawler who preferred to roughen up his opponents and slug it out from close quarters. He was definitely one of the best light heavies of the late 80's and early 90's and held the IBF title for 5 years, defending it 8 times. His biggest achievement was stopping Bobby Czyz twice, in unforgettable fights. He would later become (in)famous for two devastating knockout losses, to James Toney at 168 and Merqui Sosa at 175. Here is some info on Prince Charles.


Born 2 June 1960 in Columbus, Mississippi, Williams fought out of Mansfield, Ohio. He turned pro shortly after turning 18, 28 June 1978, losing his first fight on points to Henry Bunch. He drew in his next fight and then won 8 fights and drew one more before losing to then-undefeated Jeff Lampkin by TKO6 in a fight for the Ohio State lhw title, 29 October 1981. His early career was rocky and he was also stopped by TKO1 by 8-0 Reggie Gross 1 March 1983. On 8 November 1984 he faced the legendary warrior Marvin Johnson in a 10-rounder; Williams was hurt and staggered in rounds 3 and 7 but managed to stagger Johnson in the 10th with a combination. It was too late to make an impact and Williams lost the fight by wide scores. He then won 10 fights in row, including the USBA title by MD12 against James Salerno and a defense of it by TKO2 against Joe Golphin before signing to fight for the IBF title against Bobby Czyz. Czyz was 32-1, that sole loss coming in a middleweight fight on points to Mustafa Hamsho. He was considered one of the hottest fighters in the division and was very popular with his exciting, knockout-minded and fast-paced style. It was 29 October 1987 at the Las Vegas Hilton Outdoor Arena when Williams found himself on the canvas first in round 2 and then in the next one as well. It looked like he was headed towards a stoppage loss but Czyz was unable to finish the job and the bell saved Williams. Williams soon came back strong and took control of the fight with his superior height, reach and fluid combinations. Standing 6'2 to Czyz's 5'10, he was simply too much for the champion and in the end, after round 9, after taking too much punishment, Czyz had to retire in his corner.


Williams made his first defense against French champion Richard Caramanolis and won by TKO11 after decking Caramanolis three times. He knocked out another Frenchman, Rufino Angulo, in his second defense, this time by KO3. He then signed to fight Czyz again and the fight took place 25 June 1989, in Atlantic City. This time, Williams didn't get knocked down and while the fight was competitive, he was more dominant and in the end, Czyz again had to retire, this time after round 10, due to a swollen shut left eye. In 1991, Prince Charles knocked out James "Heat" Kinchen, once a top middleweight and super middleweight, but now no longer at his best, in 2 rounds. First he put Kinchen down in the first round before stopping him with a barrage early in round 2. After knocking out Vincent Boulware in 3 and Freddie Delgado in 2, he travelled to Germany to make his ninth defense against their best light heavyweight, Henry Maske. Maske was a tall and very clever technician and he got the better of Williams, in the end winning by a clear unanimous decision, in Dusseldorf that 20 March 1993. And so, after 5 years and 5 months, Prince Charles' championship reign had come to an end. He rebounded by winning the minor WBC Continental Americas title by TKO10 against Ernest Mateen, then 21-0. He then opted to go down in weight in order to fight in his biggest fight yet, against the IBF super middleweight champion James Toney. It was 29 July 1994 at the MGM Grand and the fight was a very ugly one, with Williams' converted style which included a lot of hugging spoiling it. Williams obviously tried to capitalize on his size advantage to offset Toney's gameplan. The crowd booed loudly but Williams did rather well and took the fight to Toney, until the late rounds, when he seemed to gas somewhat. Toney sensed it and with only 30 seconds left of the fight unleashed a deadly right hand that put Williams down and out. Before that, Toney had a point taken away for hitting after the bell and his left eye was completely swollen shut.


After that it was just one way to go for him-down. In his next fight 13 January 1995, he fought against Merqui Sosa, one of the most underrated fighters of the 90's, in an all-out brutal brawl which had to be stopped in round 7, not because of an injury to one fighter, but because both fighters had taken too much punishment! Despite Sosa being significantly ahead on all scorecards, it was curiously ruled a technical draw. Sosa's right eye was closed however and he may have suffered a fractured cheekbone, while Williams had lacerations on his left eyelid. Since the NABF title was at stake, a rematch was mandated and happened 30 June, at PA Convention Center in Philadelphia. Again the fight was hotly contested, but this time there would be a winner. In round 10, Merqui Sosa caught Williams with a tremendous overhand right which hurt him so badly that he first staggered against the ropes, with his head thrown back like in a trance, before collapsing to the canvas. He was seriously injured and taken away on a stretcher, but recovered eventually. This fight meant the end of the road for him, but he came back next year for one easy fight, which he won by KO2 against 3-3-1 Chris Vernon, in Nice, France. After that he retired for good, with a record of 37(28)-7-3.


Charles Williams had a rather unusual and exciting career and is one of the fighters who changed their style most drastically after becoming champions. Despite being a world champion for 5 years, he never was a major name or a network star, probably due to the fact that the 175-division was rather weak back then. It had just started getting stronger when he lost his IBF belt. There is no info on his current whereabouts, but he is still living in Mansfield, Ohio, today aged 58. He was a good technical boxer with a good jab and enough power to knock out anyone and could also take punishment rather well, despite his two early stoppage losses. His fights against Czyz are true classics and so are the fights against Sosa. Henry Maske said this of him:"Charles presented himself in the ring as the heavy opponent. He was at the time the dreaded light heavyweight boxer. With his entire appearance inside and out of the ring, he earned a great respect from the opponents and the audience. In the fight we both had to go our limit. After the last gong he confessed his defeat. He proved greatness with his gesture. I saw Prince Charles for the first time during a fight in London. We were both spectators. From the first moment I knew this was a great one. I wish for him he has found a good way to his sporty careers. Please order Charles cordial greetings from me,”

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