It’s been eleven months since Paul Williams and Sergio Martinez served up arguably the best fight of 2009. It was a monumental clash, seemingly thrown together on short notice after then WBC/WBO middleweight champ Kelly Pavlik pulled out on Williams for the 3rd time with just three weeks to go under pretenses that to this day remain highly questionable. Scrambling to salvage all of the invested gym time and HBO exposure, Sergio Martinez was recruited and was essentially cast in the role of high profile victim. Moments into the bout Martinez was floored and it looked like “The Punisher” was on his way to an easy win, but something happened along the way. Demonstrating years of experience, composure and unusual determination, “Maravilla” returned the favor with mere seconds left in the round, badly hurting Williams. In the eleven ensuing rounds fans were treated to an unlikely and thrilling contest of wills; a surprise edge-of-your-seat war that went right down to the wire. In the end the scorecards favored Williams by margins as slim as his lanky frame, and while a very strong case could be made that Martinez deserved the victory or that the ruling should have been judged a draw, there really were no losers. Both men emerged bigger and more popular than ever.
In the span since these two crossed swords much has happened. Sergio Martinez faced and defeated Kelly Pavlik for the WBC/WBO middleweight titles and Paul Williams looked curiously uncomfortable in garnering an undeserved if abbreviated gift split technical decision win over former IBF welterweight champion Kermit Cintron last spring. For the rematch, both men will be fighting for Martinez middleweight titles but in what is becoming a common theme in bouts involving Paul Williams stipulations have been made that favor the challenger, in this case being a catch weight of 158lbs despite this rematch being a middleweight title bout. Will the champion return the favor and hand Williams a defeat? With more than three weeks to prepare and with a catch weight stipulation that favors his cause, will “The Punisher” convincingly beat Martinez and in the process become a three-division champion? Will Martinez sharp counters keep the challenger on the canvas this time or will Williams size advantage and work rate control the tempo of the bout?
Ringside Report’s team of writers offer their expert opinions on the outcome:
I’m going with Paul Williams, probably by split decision.
I am a fan of Paul Williams and think that he presents a unique set of skills and talents. For some fighting styles, Williams presents a nearly impossible challenge, while others lick their chops when they look at his porous defense and the larger target that is his 6’1″ frame. Sergio Martinez is more of the latter. If Williams has drastically improved his defense and boxing ability then he can win this fight, but I don’t he has transformed himself to that degree in a short amount of time. I’ll take Sergio Martinez by decision, utilizing his all-around boxer-puncher skill set and knack for getting on the inside of Williams’ long reach.
Gina L. Caliboso
This is going to be an excellent rematch. Martinez had shown excellent boxing ability in their previous bout and I think the scoring was a little off. Unless Paul Williams scores a knockdown early in the fight, he can expect nothing less than a battle. Martinez looked sharp in his bout against Pavlik whereas Williams had that strange out of the ring match against Cintron. Prediction: Sergio Martinez – 12 rounds – unanimous decision
This is a great fight and very hard to pick a winner but the momentum goes with Martinez and I think he’s learned a lot since the first fight, mostly the right hook’s effectiveness against the tall Williams and he will land it with more regularity and eventually hit the right spot to stop Williams late in the fight. Martinez by 10th round stoppage.
Martinez by unanimous decision. He’s the better boxer. When they exchanged knockdowns in the 1st round of the 1st fight, Williams was hurt badly. If Williams still can’t stop the right hook, then the only difference will be the outcome.
“Bad” Brad Berkwitt
Sergio Martinez by a hard fought unanimous decision.
While the vast majority of boxing fans lamented the mega fight that never was, I quietly bided my time awaiting this rematch, an equally appealing bout to my way of thinking. I find it curious that they’ve made this bout at a catch weight, but taking into account HBO’s investment in “The Punisher”, how vulnerable he looked in the first bout and in the “win” over Kermit Cintron in his last, I can see why they’ve done almost everything imaginable to ensure Williams has every advantage. Even still, I can’t help but wonder what was taken out of Williams in the initial encounter with Martinez, and if we may in fact have seen the beginning of his decline. For the part of the middleweight champion, the chiseled “Maravilla” is on a high right now, having arguably won his last three bouts in a fashion that has made him a must-see name in the sport. Forget that Williams has every advantage here or that he is the favorite, the “most voided man in the sport” was sought after by Martinez for a reason. I’m leaning towards Martinez to do what I half expected him to do every time he landed one of his hurtful looking flush counters the last time out, stop Williams, probably late. Sergio Martinez via 11th round TKO in a thrilling war.
Hard to imagine that this won’t be close once again. Martinez by split decision.
This is going to be a tough fight! After reviewing the first fight, and both fighters previous fights. I’m going to give the nod to Sergio Martinez. His athletic abilities, good footwork and chin will make the difference. His boxing skills seem to be improving every fight. I take nothing from Paul Williams, he will bring lots of pressure, but in the end Martinez wins this one by unanimous decision.