It has become a familiar pattern for Mike Tyson's lightly regarded foes.
The opponent talks in the days before the fight about how he is not scared of the former heavyweight champ, how he will not be intimidated, how he will not be bullied. And how he will win.
So it was no surprise when Tyson's opponent in Friday's bout at Freedom Hall, British heavyweight Danny Williams, exhibited similar bravado at Wednesday's pre-fight news conference.
"Mike Tyson has had his day," said the 31-year-old Williams (31-3, 26 KOs). "Now it is time for Danny Williams to take over -- trust me."
Unfortunately for Williams, all but one of the substantial underdogs who have gotten in the ring with Tyson -- James "Buster" Douglas -- haven't been able to back up their boastful vclaims. And most, upon Tyson merely entering the ring with a scowl, have been overcome with fear.
Williams, whom Las Vegas oddsmakers installed as a 20-1 underdog, insists he will be different.
"Tyson will be as vicious as ever when he gets in the ring, but so will I," Williams said. "He has tremendous power, but I am ready for that and anything else he has to offer."
At 38, few expect Tyson to show any new weapons against Williams. Known as much for his circus-like news conferences (Lennox Lewis claimed he was bitten by Tyson during a melee that erupted before their 2002 fight) as his powerful left hook, Tyson has been on his best behavior entering this bout.
"I may be calmer before this fight than usual," Tyson said during an uneventful press conference here Wednesday. "But the fire will be there come Friday."
Williams, who is fighting outside of Europe for just the second time, is one of the few to share those views. Though he is bigger than Tyson -- he weighed in at 265 pounds today -- and owns a slight (11/2-inch) reach advantage, he has yet to fight a quality opponent. His previous two wins were over unknowns Ratko Draskovic and Augustin N'Gou.
Tyson (50-4, 44 KOs) has been made an overwhelming favorite, and most do not expect the fight to last more than a round or two.
Tyson and his trainer, Freddie Roach, both claim the fighter has rededicated himself to the sport. But most are interested to see if Tyson has rediscovered any of the quickness and boxing skill that so brilliantly complemented his savage power during the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Before several of his most recent fights, Tyson has claimed he would go back to throwing combinations of punches and using quick head movements, only to eschew those ideas at the opening bell and try to load up for single, massive knockout shots.
According to Roach, Tyson is in better shape than he was for his last fight, more than 18 months ago against underwhelming Clifford Etienne (knocked out in the first round). But today, Tyson weighed in at 233 pounds -- more than seven pounds heavier than he was for Etienne. Tyson, seemingly surprised by the figure, asked to be re-weighed but got the same result.
Tyson's subdued nature has been well-documented in recent weeks, but he was a bit more serious during the weigh-in. He never lost a fearsome glare and bounced in place before stepping on the scale. Compared with past weigh-ins, which included a scuffle and a particularly memorable expletive-laced tirade before the Lewis bout, yesterday's was peaceful. After conducting two light-hearted television interviews following the weigh-in, Tyson signed autographs and shook hands with several fans.
In the co-featured bout of Friday night's card, Laila Ali (17-0, 14 KOs) will defend her women's super middleweight championship against Monica Nunez (9-1, 6 KOs) of the Dominican Republic. It will be Ali's second fight in the last 13 days. On July 17 at Prince George's Stadium in Bowie, Ali, the daughter of Muhammad Ali, scored a fourth-round technical knockout of Nikki Eplion.
"I have never fought this soon after a fight, but I like it," said Laila Ali, who will be fighting in her father's home town. "The good thing about having fights so close together is that I do not have to worry about getting out of shape and then having to get back into shape."