FEATURE - Baker enjoys making his critics eat humble pie


07/10/2009

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CARL Baker produced the biggest upset in Prizefighter history when he beat British Champion Danny Williams.

ThePrizefighterSeries.com talks exclusively to Baker and gets his thoughts on whether Williams should retire, if Audley Harrison can become World Champion and his own career hopes.

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RIDICULED by Mike Tyson, laughed at by friends and dismissed as a no-hoper by bookmakers, there seemed to be little point for Carl Baker to enter Prizefighter Heavyweights III.

Carl 'The Fridge' Baker looked to have no chance when he was drawn against British Champion Danny Williams, the man who effectively ended Tyson's career.

But the beauty of Prizefighter's short format of a maximum of three rounds per fight is the fighter wanting it the most can win - and The Fridge was hungry.

A capacity crowd of 5,000 crammed into London's ExCel Arena expecting Williams to win easily and move a step closer to the grudge-match final of Williams versus bitter enemy Audley Harrison.


Carl Baker knocks down Danny Williams in his Prizefighter quarter-final. All pictures: Lawrence Lustig

In the most sensational start to any Prizefighter fight, Williams was floored in the first 20 seconds, then again a minute later and was lucky not to be stopped in the opening round.

"I don't even remember the fight and had to watch it back at home," admitted 27-year-old Baker. "I don't even remember what hand I knocked him down with, I was just on auto-pilot.

"I remember thinking 'where has Danny gone' and that maybe he'd stepped around the side of me but then I realised I'd put him down and couldn't believe it.

"When I saw the shot it didn't look that hard – but just in the right place on the side of the head.

"The second knockdown wasn't as clean as the first but I realised all I then had to do was stay on my feet and I would win the fight.

"I couldn't believe I'd knocked down Danny Williams twice. He's fought Mike Tyson who couldn't do that and John McDermott also couldn't put him down.

"My first knockdown was in only 20 seconds. Has anyone ever done that to Danny before?"

Williams was knocked down again in the second, although referee Terry O'Connor called it a slip, as 27-year-old Baker, who had only fought once in three years, was on the verge of a huge upset.


Carl Baker knocks Danny Williams to the canvas again. Picture: Lawrence Lustig

However, Williams showed his heart and fighting spirit in the third by unleashing a barrage of punches as he, quite literally, was fighting to save his career.

But, despite taking some heavy shots, Baker managed to survive to claim a unanimous points victory and earn his biggest victory in boxing.

"I expected Danny to try and knock me out in the third round and if I was him I would've done the same thing," said Baker.

"I think I could've stopped him but my goal was making sure I stayed on my feet. He was like a wounded animal and I knew if I tried to finish him off he would catch me.

"I've realised how hard he hits as my body is still in pain four days later. He did catch me a few times in the last round and it was really tough – I've never had anyone so desperate to knock me out and he wanted it as much as possible."

Quick victories for Audley Harrison against Scott Belshaw and Danny Hughes against Neil Perkins meant there was not much time for Baker, who weighed in at 20st 7lb – the heaviest of the contenders – to recover ahead of his semi-final with Coleman Barrett.

Baker battled hard but the superior fitness of Barrett proved decisive as the Irishman claimed a unanimous points triumph before he lost in the final against Audley Harrison, via a second round knockout.

Despite the semi-final defeat, Baker, who has now won nine of 13 professional fights, was delighted with his efforts at Prizefighter and happy to prove a lot of people wrong.

Former undisputed World Heavyweight Champion Mike Tyson performed the Prizefighter draw and dismissed Baker as having 'no chance' against Williams.

Tyson was not the only person to think this. Bookmakers had Williams at 1/10 to win and even his family, friends and people he trained with wrote him off but Baker was pleased he could make them all eat humble pie.

"The only thing I wanted out of Prizefighter was the thing I did – to beat Danny Williams," said Baker, who fits his twice-a-day training around working at Sheffield-based internet company PlusNet.

"When I told my friends I was boxing Danny everyone started laughing. When I first said I was in Prizefighter and read off the names of people in it, everyone was saying 'you can't win so don't enter it'.

"I walked into work on Monday morning to a round of applause and it has put me on such a high. All I needed was a bit of self-belief and this has shown people what I can do.

"As I've just beaten the British Champion, if that title becomes vacant I would love to fight for it.


Carl Baker says beating Danny Williams will do wonders for his career. Picture: Lawrence Lustig

"If not, I will just continue doing what I do and if a fight gets offered and I believe I can win it then I'll take it. A lot of people will be thinking 'let's beat the kid that beat Danny'. Beating Danny will do wonders for my career."

While Baker's career is on the up, he believes there is nowhere else to go for Williams, who is expected to be stripped of his title by the British Boxing Board of Control later this month.

"Some papers had me down as a journeyman, which was a bit unfair," said Baker. "But after I beat Danny like that, I wouldn't want to see someone else do that to him as well.

"When you're getting beat like that from a novice you should get out of there. To be honest, I shouldn't have been in the same ring as Danny Williams and wouldn't have been normally away from Prizefighter.

"I think he should hang up his gloves. He said before the event he would retire if he didn't win and I hope he does.

"He ended Mike Tyson's career and got in with Vitali Klitschko for the world title so he can be proud of what he has achieved."

Former Olympic Games gold medalist Audley Harrison won Prizefighter and then sets his sights on a world championship but Baker is sceptical as to whether A-Force can achieve that.

"Maybe he can get a British title but I can't see how Audley can get a world title shot after that," added Baker. "He can box and over three rounds anything can happen but I can't see him being World Champion. He is 37 and might have left it too late. All the fighters in Prizefighter, apart from him and Danny Williams, were novices.

"Audley did well to win it but (semi-final opponent) Danny Hughes showed him too much respect, although Danny was winning until Audley put him down. Coleman Barrett in the final was also winning until Audley knocked him out.

"I think Prizefighter was a brilliant night for heavyweight boxing. It was a shame about the result and it could've been me who was the champion but I loved the experience.

"The arena was packed out and everyone that I spoke to loved it. I'm still getting a buzz off of it now.

"Even after the Coleman Barrett loss I was still smiling because I'd been head-to-head with Danny Williams and beaten him."


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