Sunday, November 16, 2008

On the Outside Looking In

Paul Williams is looking for a big name opponent that would be willing to accept his challenge.

Antonio Margarito, Shane Mosley, Miguel Cotto and even Kelly Pavlik. The list goes on and on.

Those are just some of the names that don’t have much of a desire to get into the ring and have 6’1” tall, southpaw Paul Williams staring back at them from the other corner. It’s gotten so bad that when Williams’ name is brought up, most fighters seem to come down with a temporary case of dementia pugilistica and feign all knowledge of the man who goes by the nickname “The Punisher.”

He’s only 27 years old, has an impressive record of 35-1 (26)KO’s, has avenged his only loss with a first round knockout win and he’s already beaten Antonio Margarito, who of course beat Cotto, who of course beat Mosley.

But try as he might, Williams can’t embarrass Antonio Margarito into a rematch and he can’t seem to get any of the other big names that inhabit the rankings from welterweight to middleweight into a ring with him.

As a result, Paul Williams has been relegated to the sidelines. He’s had to wash his hands of the welterweight division and recently vacated his WBO 147-pound title belt. In two weeks he’ll fight Verno Phillips for the IBF 154-pound title and his hopes are that he can rustle up a big name, any big name, into getting in a ring with him.

So with word that Antonio Margarito and Shane Mosley will face each other in January, should Margarito actually decide to sign the contract, Williams just shook his head in disgust and frustration.

“It’s the easy way out” said a stone faced Williams. “In my opinion, you now what I’m sayin’, it’s the easy way out for them.”

Williams is a physical marvel who is willing to fight any fighter from welterweight to middleweight.

And it’s not as though Williams has made himself unavailable for fights or that he’s stuck into some sort of promotional or network quagmire that will not allow him to face anybody at any time.

With Dan Goossen as his promoter, Williams is practically a free agent and is ready, willing and able to fight on any television network at any time against anybody that will sit down at the table and sign their name on a fight contract. Goossen even has a fearsome label for his young charge: “The most feared man in boxing.” Yet despite his attempts to shame a big name into a fight with Williams, it’s just not possible to make someone fight if they don‘t want to.

And that’s the hurdle for Williams - none of the marquee names are willing to take a pen in their hand and simply sign a piece of paper.

“Mosley will never fight me,” says the laid back Williams, who despite the shenanigans and the politics of the fight game, is always calm and composed. “Mosley won’t do it, I know he won’t and if you think he will, you go ask him and find out. We done been calling these guys out, asking these guys for so long, and it never happens.”

And it’s not as though Williams does not have a crowd pleasing style or that he makes for boring fights. Williams is a tireless puncher with above average power and he has the ability to take a good shot. He always shows up in shape, and like a Forrest Gump box of chocolates, you never quite know what you’re going to get with him. It can be a devastating first round knockout, like has happened in his last two fights, or you may see a twelve round distance fight where he throws in the vicinity of a thousand shots.

Williams’ case reminds some of the plight of Winky Wright, who for years toiled away as a frustrated southpaw with the ability to be a world beater, but without the opportunity to ever show himself because none of the marquee names would fight him, either.

Williams is an action-packed fighter that makes for exciting fights and good TV.

Williams realizes his predicament and he understands the only way he might be able to change it is if he just keeps fighting and just keeps winning. The Phillips fight will be his fourth this year, and so far he has appeared on HBO, Showtime and VERSUS television networks. But with Golden Boy Promotions and Top Rank basically refusing to deal with him, it makes it impossible for Williams to land a fight against Margarito, Mosley, Cotto, Joshua Clottey or Pavlik, which are the very fights that the fans want to see.

So as a result, the soft-spoken heavy hitting Williams has accepted the match against Phillips, a journeyman titlist and resident of Denver, Colorado who will turn 39 the day that he and Williams lock horns in Ontario, California.

Williams is a colossal favorite to upend Phillips and win his third world title belt. And while some have criticized the fight as an easy one for Williams, he didn’t have much room to wiggle because of the limited amount of options that are available to him.

“Of all the names out there, Verno Phillips was the only one willing to step up to the plate and fight me,” explains Williams. “So what am I supposed to do? I had to take the fight, it’s for another title. Everybody else, I mean you can name all of the names in the top ten, in each of the weight classes, and they’ve all turned me down.”

So as Thanksgiving and Christmas approach, Paul Williams is like the kid with no money and empty pockets. He stares into the windows of storefronts with hopes that his luck will change sometime soon and that he can get his hands on all of the big, expensive toys.

But whatever the case, Paul Williams wants to get out a message to the boxing world:

“That Paul Williams is doing what he’s been doing and that I’m still moving forward,” he says. “They won’t give me the credit like I deserve, so I’ve got to take it by force, like I’ve always been takin’ it.”

And if Paul Williams has his way, he’ll soon be on the inside looking out - instead of the other way around.

November 2008

No comments: