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Paul Williams: Erislandy Lara PUNISHED by the Judges – Boxing Down for the Count

By Gina L. Caliboso

On July 9th, Paul “Punisher” Williams, made a return to the ring in a 12 round light middleweight bout against Erislandy Lara.

Considered to be the tallest man in boxing for his division, Williams became a top contender immediately with his undefeated record. By simply being the taller fighter, any potential opponent would have to fight and punch up.

Meanwhile, Williams, the southpaw, would eventually make his opponent look awkward and uncompetitive. And, after seeing the Klitschko – Haye bout, the taller fighter becomes the ring. I believed this about Williams as well, until I heard the scorecards with the decision for Williams. Until I saw the shorter fighter get robbed in making the taller fighter look uninterested and a poster boy for retirement.

Back in December 2010, Williams went up against Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez for the second time. Prior to the December matchup, Williams had earned a 12 round MD against Sergio Martinez in what I considered to be some lopsided scoring. Judge Lynne Carter scored the bout 115-113, Judge Julie Lederman scored the bout 114-114. But here’s the scoring I found somewhat lopsided, Judge Pierre Benoist scored the bout 119-110. Both fighters had knockdowns in the 1st round.

In a much-needed rematch, the two faced each other again in December. Martinez didn’t waste any time in sizing out Williams and with what I considered the KO of 2010, he knocked out Williams in the 2nd round. There was no doubt. No attempt on Williams’ part to get up. He got knocked out. And suddenly, as like any fighter, Williams did seem different. It is now nearly 7 months later and the fight after a KO for a boxer can be a critical one. A boxer that is KO’d is shown to be vulnerable and sometimes it can all be about self-determination.

In looking at Williams’ record prior to his last loss, he had been unable to get any opponents. He had been set to fight against Ohio’s Kelly “Ghost” Pavlik, but Pavlik had some personal issues to work out and the fight never came into fruition. However, Williams now finds himself in a light middleweight division that has some competitive edge. Putting his height aside, Williams should definitely seek out competitive matches. I still think a title bout might not be in the right direction of his comeback, but he should seek out a 10 round bout one more time for the year and see where his physical and psychological stamina remains.

From 2009 to 2010, Williams has fought four times, but twice against Martinez. In his first 2009 bout, he fought against Ronald “Winky” Wright and earned a 12 round unanimous decision. After his victory over Martinez the first time, he then fought Kermit Cintron in a 4th round TD that if I recall, involved a dive out of the ring. I remember thinking it was bad luck on Williams’ part. He was winning without even being challenged. Then, he faced Martinez for the second time and lost in a 2nd round KO. Suddenly, one has to wonder if whether Williams had the stuff in him at all.

Currently ranked #4 among light middleweights, Williams can potentially fight against the best in his division. Ranked #1, Miguel Angel Cotto, 36-2, 29 KO’s, seems to have undergone resurgence in his career as well. In his last two bouts, he handily defeated both Yuri Foreman and Mayorga. I don’t consider the Mayorga bout to be hugely competitive and with his current collaboration with Emanuel Stewart, Cotto had been considered to fight a rematch against another tall fighter, Antonio Margarito. Come to think of it, Margarito versus Williams. It wouldn’t exactly be a PPV fight, but I’d like to see two tall fighters engage in a bout.

After this past Saturday’s victory, Williams now ranks at #5 among light middleweights. Mexico’s Saul “Canelo” Alvarez is now ranked #4. Solidly built, Alvarez is not a typical Mexican fighter. He fights more upright and solidly connects with incredible power. If I had to choose the winner between a matchup between Williams and Alvarez, I’d choose Alvarez. I would, however, like to see how Alvarez could handle Williams. If he connected solidly against Williams, it would be an early KO.

As Williams won the bout, I do not take away anything from the welcome addition of Erislandy Lara to the light middleweight division. Lara looked absolutely fearless as he didn’t allow Williams any momentum and he indeed, fought taller than Williams. Lara connected with a solid 1-2 rhythm in each round. When Williams finally reached championship rounds, he looked defeated (and bloodied), and his corner even pressed upon the importance of a KO to end the bout. Lara showed up to fight and he won despite the scorecards.

During my lunch break on Monday, the Williams bout made mention on a few sports shows. Also, RSR Head Honcho Brad Berkwitt also suggested that the decision showed what’s wrong with boxing scoring. It was a bad decision, fight fans. I know I wasn’t sitting ringside, but the scoring reminded me of the scoring that Williams received in his first bout against Sergio Martinez. Somehow, the taller fighter does emerge as the better-looking fighter. But, it’s not the type of credibility that a boxer can depend on. In two of his last four fights, Williams has been given questionable decisions most likely as a result that he looks better because he towers over his opponents.

As a boxer, this can only go so far until something gives. Williams, in looking like a veteran and tired fighter at 29 and in the corner breathing, should just hang up the gloves. I know that I provided possible matchups, but Williams deserves a graceful exit from the sport, rather than a questionable shadow about his commitment and willingness to fight.

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