Saturday, December 5, 2009

Paul Williams Lives Life on the D-List

In a stay busy fight, Paul Williams will fight Sergio Martinez tonight in Atlantic City.

Dan Goossen, the promoter of Paul "The Punisher" Williams, calls his man "the most feared and the most avoided fighter in all of boxing."

But Floyd Mayweather, Jr. claims he doesn't even know who Paul Williams is. "Paul, who?" is Mayweather's response when asked about 'P-Will'.

Shane Mosley is of the notion that Williams "doesn't bring enough to the table" to warrant a fight with him. Mosley says, "I only want mega-fights and Paul Williams is not that."

Like comedian Kathy Griffin, Williams has had to get used to living life on the D-List.

"I don’t know why all these guys won’t fight me," says Williams. "I guess you’ll have to ask them that."

Maybe all of this has something to do with the fact that the lanky 28-year-old, who stands 6'2" tall and has the wingspan of a heavyweight, throws punches like President Barack Obama throws around tax payer money – non-stop and in bunches.

To get a true sense of how many punches the man throws; all you have to do is look at the numbers - because they don't lie. In 2007, he fired a relentless 1,256 punches at Antonio Margarito over the course of twelve rounds to lift Margarito's WBO welterweight title. That effort was good enough to rank him second on the all-time list for punches thrown by a welterweight.

This past April, Williams unloaded 1,086 punches when he bombarded the still capable Winky Wright in a virtual shutout over twelve rounds. That performance ranks Williams second on the all-time list for the number of punches thrown by a middleweight.

Sergio Martinez (left) weighed in at 159 on Friday afternoon. Williams scaled 157 pounds.

In short, Paul Williams is a tough night for anybody. From welterweight to super middleweight, when his name is mentioned, world-class fighters develop phantom pains, head in the opposite direction or develop a case of amnesia.

To this day, Williams believes it wasn't an infected hand that postponed and ultimately cancelled his scheduled bouts against Kelly Pavlik - but it was fear on Pavlik's part that was responsible. It was supposed to be Pavlik whom he was fighting tonight at Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall, but instead it will be the unknown Sergio Martinez, a southpaw Argentine via Spain who brings a record of 44-1-2, 24 KOs.

"The doctor gave Kelly Pavlik one hundred percent clearance to fight me," says Williams. "But what happened? He pulled out again, so that's it. He's not going to fight me, that's his third time pulling out and as far as I'm concerned the chances of that fight ever happening are dead to me. First it was October, then it was December, then they started talking about January, but we're going now on December the 5th and that's that."

Aside from his perpetual motion in the ring, Williams, with a record of 37-1, 27 KOs, is somewhat of a freak of nature in the fact that he can mold his body to fit into the different weight divisions. He is one of the few fighters that can be effective no matter where the scale stops and he is not afraid to go up or down in weight. The fact that he can gain and/or lose weight in bouncing from division to division is testament to his discipline.

"That's the best thing about boxing, the discipline," says Williams. "You have to be very focused on what you're doing. Look man, I'll fight 'em all. Anybody from '47 to '68 that wants to fight me, all they gotta' do is say the word and I'm there. If they want me in there, I'm all game."

Kelly Pavlik and Williams donned New York Giants jerseys for a press conference at the New Jersey Meadowlands. But their fight was posponed and cancelled.

But for all of his success (he is a two-time WBO welterweight titlist, an interim belt holder at 154 and ranked in the top-5 on most pound-for-pound lists) Paul Williams is in a "Catch-22" situation if ever there was one.

He is very good at his craft and he is a legitimate threat to any fighter within a 20-pound weight range. The problem is that he doesn't bring the name recognition the top fighters do and as a result he can't bring a lot of money to the table. He is perceived as an extremely high risk with a very low reward. Since he currently holds no established title and does not fight in one particular weight division, there is no incentive for other fighters to get in the ring with him.

His scheduled fight against Pavlik, who does very well in drawing crowds to Atlantic City, was to have taken place in the main arena at Boardwalk Hall tonight. But once Pavlik fell out and Martinez was penciled in, the fight was moved to a smaller room. And that's the other problem Williams has; on his own he is not a big ticket seller. When he and Wright fought in April of this year in Las Vegas - the Mandalay Bay Events Center was virtually empty.

Perhaps the biggest factor working against Williams is that he has no identifiable fan base. He was born in South Carolina and resides in Georgia, but he hasn't appeared in a Georgia ring in over seven years. He has never once fought in South Carolina. Since he beat Margarito in California in 2007, Williams has appeared in that state three times, once in Connecticut and once in Nevada. Tonight will be the first time he has ever fought in New Jersey.

What is clear about Williams is that while boxing fans know who he is, few outside the sport do. He has never been marketed on his home turf and that has made it very difficult for him when it comes to name recognition. Taking Williams out of his home area and turning him into a vagabond fighter has done nothing for him in terms marketability. It would have been like taking Miguel Cotto out of Puerto Rico in an effort to develop him into an attraction in Arizona or Texas.

Williams attracts a fair amount of media attention, but it's not as much as he desires.

And while jumping from weight division to weight division is an interesting quirk, until Williams settles on a particular weight class and remains there for a time, it will be nearly impossible for him to get the fights that he craves against the marquee names.

"If you notice, every time one of them guys got into a big fight, after they was done, they never mentioned my name," explains Williams of his decision to move out of the land of the welterweights. "That should tell you something right there. I was the champion of the WBO at welterweight and I still couldn't get no fights."

But there is an opposite line of thinking that believes had Williams remained at 147, which he says, "I can still make" it would likely have prevented Miguel Cotto from winning the title that he vacated. That, in turn, would have prevented Manny Pacquiao from winning the belt from Cotto.

Furthermore, any claim that Mosley, Mayweather, Andre Berto or Pacquiao have to being the best welterweight in the world would be in severe doubt if Williams were still there. Boxing fans would have begun to grumble loudly that all of those fighters should fight Williams to prove themselves – instead of the other way around. Had Williams remained at welterweight, he may have become an unavoidable fact of life for the very names that now find it easy to shun him.

As long as Williams hangs out in divisions for one fight here and one fight there, the boxing public will never get behind him. Were he to drop back to welterweight after tonight's fight, he would likely be granted a very high ranking at 147 and eventually be awarded a title shot. A welterweight title would give him much more leverage against one of the top names. It would also make it very difficult for Mayweather and Mosley - and to a lesser degree - Cotto, Margarito, Berto and Joshua Clottey to ignore him.

In short, the only way for Paul Williams to force the hands of those he wants to fight is to get in their sandbox – and stay there until they dare push him out. Williams is a very good fighter, one of the best on the planet, but as long as he keeps division hopping, throwing all of the punches in the world can't save him.

And he’ll continue to live life on the D-List.

December 2009

1 comment:

hemanth said...

Watch Sergio Martinez vs Paul Williams live here. Two of the most challenging fighters will take to the center stage and will fight it out for the Middleweight bout. Two of the most promising Fighters head for the action