By Lee Payton
Photo © Ray Kasprowicz
Middleweight contender, Paul Williams was too big and too fresh for 37 year old Winky Wright. He dominated a fighter who has made a career of hanging with the very best in the business, living up to his claim as the most dangerous man in boxing.
Wright displayed a champion's heart, but was a step behind all night against his ultra-gifted opponent. As hard as he tried to turn it into his kind of fight, the younger man just wouldn't sit still long enough. The result was the first lopsided loss in an excellent career.
The first round saw the two determined fighters going at it in a struggle for control and the stubbornness of the fighters made for heated action. Williams let loose with over 100 punches, while Wright pressed forward steadily in search of opportunities to counter.
"The Punisher" grabbed rounds 2-5 with superior quickness and output, not worrying about whether his punches landed clean. He just kept throwing leather, with some of it finding it's way around Wright's famous high guard and the rest keeping him busy. Not only was Paul throwing and landing more, but by the 4th, he was also finding openings for his hardest shots.
Wright was able to pick his spots more effectively in the 6th. He smacked right hooks upstairs and down during many sustained toe to toe exchanges. It was probably Winky's best round of the fight, and the last he would win on my card
From there it was "The Paul Williams Show". He showcased all of the elements that make him a complete fighter, not just another tall, ballsy fighter. The man has some slick moves, knowledge of angles, the ability to vary the velocity on his punches, and some snappy combination punching. Pound-for-pound stuff. Wright had never seen anything like it.
Though obviously way down on the cards, the former Jr. Middleweight Champion never folded. In fact, when Williams came out for the 10th round with what he hoped would be a fight-ending assault, Winky just kept his hands up and grinned, as if to say "Who do you think you're in with, son?"
It was an honest effort from a real professional who passed the "fighter to avoid" torch to a worthy successor.
Two judges had it 11-1, while the other scored a shutout for Williams.
So what's next for these two?
Winky was better than many people expected last night, and while I feel he still has something left, it might be best for him to retire. He's been to the top already, and took the hard road to get there, does he really need to get back in line at this stage? Sure, he's still good enough beat some of the other contenders at 160, but how many big money options does he have left?
I guess he could win a couple fights and be back in line for one of the belts. Maybe he should gun for Felix Sturm.
The man loves boxing, so he'll be back. I would expect to see him on ESPN2 later in the year.
As for Williams, the sky's the limit. In the ring, he seems to have it all and now he has the backing of HBO, which will make it a lot harder for the big players at 147-160 to just look the other way. Hopefully they put pressure on Bob Arum to give Paul a shot at his Middleweight Champion, Kelly Pavlik, but don't hold your breath. Bob is a smart guy.
Personally, I think Williams would dominate Pavlik. What edge does the champ have, other than one shot power? He'd be up against a real fighter, and a much better athlete, who is sure to get off first with the most all night long.
Of course there are those who will say "Williams gets hit, and Pavlik is a true middleweight with power"
True. But I think that if Paul had chin issues, they'd have shown up by now. He's taken some very good shots right on the button without blinking in past fights, so I have faith in his ability to take a shot.
Don't forget, Kelly actually has to land his right hand, and he won't have an easy time finding the target against this guy. In my opinion he's not quick or accurate enough to win. If the fight comes off, you can bet Paul will send Top Rank back to the drawing board.
What about Arthur Abraham? I'm not sure this will ever happen, but I'd take Williams here too. The German title holder hasn't shown the fire necessary to be the boss in that fight. He'd be playing defense for 2 minutes and 30 seconds of every round. I suppose there is a small possibility that Art ends it out of nowhere.
Some are beating the drum for Williams to face hard-charging lefty, James Kirkland. While Kirkland would surely make it fun for as long as it lasts, he's too green to deal with the incoming. Williams by KO.
Paul Williams has arrived, and he's willing to fight anyone. The man is a mix of old-school warrior mentality and modern athleticism that is pure hell for anyone from welter to middleweight. I've been a believer for quite awhile now. If you're still not convinced, it's simply a matter of time. He's the goods.
Cris Arreola opened the show by knocking out an old and ill-prepared Jameel McCline. A left uppercut-right hand combo hurt McCline, and a follow-up right sent him to the canvas for the ten count in the 4th round.
Arreola is a fun guy who can make some noise and money in today's heavyweight division, but I'm not sure why anyone should take him seriously as a possible heavyweight champion at this point. He needs to lose some weight and fight a live body.
Larry Merchant was great, as always, but he's never been shy about his quest for another decent American Heavyweight Champion. Remember how in love he was with Michael Grant?
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Sunday, April 12, 2009
By Lee Payton