World lightweight contender Dannie Williams overcame more obstacles growing up on the mean streets of St. Louis than he’ll ever face in the ring.
Today, not only isn’t Dannie Williams the best kept secret in the lightweight division anymore, the gifted southpaw is arguably one of the most dangerous 135-pounders in the world.
At the request of his longtime promoter Steve Smith, Williams moved from the mean streets of St. Louis to Youngstown, Ohio. “Boxing has saved me,” Williams explained. “I turned my life around when I left St. Louis for Youngstown. I have some great people around me like (head trainer) Jack Loew, (promoters) Steve Smith, Blake Fischer and Lou DiBella, (manager/advisor) Sam Shapiro, my whole team. They really care about me and want to see me succeed.”
After completing an outstanding amateur career, highlighted by a gold-medal performance in the 2004 National Golden Gloves Tournament, Williams made his pro debut June 2, 2005, in St. Charles, Missouri, stopping Tony Kinney in the opening round.
Dannie reeled off 12 consecutive victories, 10 by knockouts, until he lost a 10-round decision to Eloy Perez (13-0-2) for the vacant WBC USNBC super featherweight title on September 12, 2009, at the Playboy Mansion, in Beverly Hills, California.
Williams bounced back strongly from that blemish, winning three fights by knockout in 2010; over Daniel Mitchell (KO1) in January, Tyler Ziolkowski (TKO2) in June, and Steve Mincks (TKO2) in July.
In 2011, Williams was ready to step up in competition and won five fights, three by knockout. On February 19, at the Byzantine Center, in Youngstown, OH, Williams won an eight-round unanimous decision over hard-hitting upset specialist Harrison Cuello. Williams dropped Cuello in rounds three, four and eight, on his way to earning a score of 80-69 across the board. On April 15, Cuello picked up the vacant WBC Continental Americas lightweight title with a 147-second knockout over the 20-2 Manuel Leyva, at the Ameristar Casino, in St. Charles, MO. On July 1, at the Covelli Center, in Youngstown, OH, Williams earned a unanimous 10-round decision over Oscar Cuero, with scores of 99-91, and 97-93 twice.
Five weeks later, Williams impressively knocked out the 16-5-5 Antonio Cervantes in four rounds, on August 12, at the Ameristar. What separates the multi-talented southpaw Williams from other lightweight contenders is his pure knockout power. Fans watching his fight on ESPN Friday Night Fights versus Cervantes got a first-hand look at Williams’ devastating power punching, realizing that he can crack with the best in the business. This sensational knockout was the No. 1 highlight on ESPN’s SportsCenter Countdown.
Williams ended the year, once again at the Ameristar, knocking out John Willoughby at 1:59 of round two, on November 18.
Back in the ring the first week of 2012, Williams took on Fernando Trejo, at Mallory Square, in Key West, FL, on January 6. Williams was dominant throughout, being consistent with his combinations and work to the body. An elbow injury suffered by Trejo ended the bout prior to the start of round six, resulting in a TKO victory for Williams.
On March 30, Williams was back on ESPN’s “Friday Night Fights” challenging the 21-1 Hank Lundy for his NABF title. The fireworks started almost immediately and, in the midst of an exchange, a left hook to the temple from Williams put Lundy on the canvas. Lundy, however, recovered and began to turn the tide. Round three, featuring blistering exchanges, was a clear candidate for “Round of the Year”. While the ensuing rounds were exciting and competitive, Lundy had the upper hand, particularly with his jab, on his way to winning the 10-round decision.
Williams ended the year by scoring a seventh-round stoppage, at the 1:03 mark, over Rynell Griffin, back at the Ameristar, on October 12.
“Dannie Williams will be a world champion,” Loew confidently predicted. “He has good hand speed, boxes well and can think in the ring, but he punches so hard. Dannie won a lot of amateur tournaments, so he had to be a good boxer to do that, but what makes him so marketable is he’s a big puncher. Like Mike Tyson, fans love to watch a fighter like Dannie with that brutality of punching. He can hit a homerun at any time and that brings a lot of excitement to boxing.”
“Boxing fans always like to see a knockout,” Williams commented. “I can box and I have speed. I train to go the distance, too, but I always want to knockout my opponent. I’m coming at you, setting them up—fast hand-speed, jabs, hooks and feints—for a huge shot that I know will KO any 135-pound fighter in the world. I’m in the hurt business and I’m trying to hurt you. You either have it or you don’t, do it or can’t, and my power is always there.”