Paul Williams Leads WBA Welterweight Tournament
Welterweight contender Paul Williams barely had his hand raised last Wednesday when it was announced that he’s entered a four-man WBA welterweight tournament and will face Golden Boy Promotion’s new discovery Walter Matthysse of Argentina. Williams and Matthysse are both undefeated and will meet May 27 at the Home Depot Center.
“We’ve agreed to have a welterweight tournament,” said Richard Schaeffer, CEO for Golden Boy Promotions.
Argentina’s Matthysse (25-0, 24 KOs) was signed last year by the California-based company though he had never fought outside of his native South American country. So when he was put in a Southern California boxing card on Dec. 8 in San Diego, expectations were muted. Golden Boy Promotions wanted a sure thing so Matthysse was matched against Xavier Tolliver who had won seven straight since losing by technical knockout to James “Spider” Webb in 2004.
That day Matthysse immediately raised Golden Boy’s expectations with a first round knockout of X-Man Tolliver that had boxing experts raving about the power of the Argentine blockbuster.
Problem was that welterweights seemed to be a dead division outside of Sugar Shane Mosley and Zab Judah. And those guys were after bigger game not named Antonio Margarito.
But after several television appearances by Williams (29-0, 21 KOs), the Georgia-based boxer is finally gaining the notoriety he deserves after fighting in the boxing limbo known as the dirty south. The 6’2” Williams learned the hard way that to be noticed you have to fight on the east or west coast. He chose the west coast and has fed on a variety of smaller opponents with some kind of name. Now comes the big test.
A win over the heavy-handed Matthysse would propel him to the top of the welterweight contender list that includes two others that are included in the proposed welterweight tourney: Joel Julio and Carlos Quintana. There are other welters out there that command equal or more attention but we’ll get to those later.
Williams, who stopped Sergio Rios in two rounds last week, has also beaten Alfonso Sanchez, Terrence Cauthen and power-punching Luis Hernandez. Those are all solid opponents but wouldn’t qualify him for superstar status. What does make the southpaw stand out was a sparring session that took place against Margarito almost two years ago at the LA Boxing Club. That boxing gym is now defunct but the memory of that practice war is still talked about in Southern California circles.
Margarito was preparing for a fight and in came Williams, all 6-2 of him. The Tijuana fighter took a look at him and nodded yes to a sparring session with the Georgia boxer known as “The Punisher.”
The first round began easy with both firing half-speed punches and gauging the other’s movements. Williams’ size and movement proved a little perplexing for Margarito who circled and fired off a blow here and there. Nothing special.
In the second round, the intensity tripled. After Williams landed a solid shot Margarito increased the pressure and the fight was on. Neither looked intimidated and neither looked willing to ease up. Instead, the twenty people inside the gym that was bought a year ago by a Korean church were leaning forward to catch the action that was heating up. Blows were coming in bunches and the sparring session had turned into a war. After several frames of this give-and-take, it was over and both fighters shook hands.
That afternoon the rumor mill must have been on overdrive because some said Williams beat Margarito’s behind while others claimed the Tijuana warrior took Williams’ scalp. The truth is both had their moments.
At the time Margarito was on the verge of becoming the feared fighter he is today. Williams was just another aspiring welterweight trying to get some work. Now he’s on the edge of greatness or doom as he prepares to meet Matthysse.
“It should be a great fight,” Shaeffer said at the press conference at the Staples Center. The match will be a co-main event along with Jhonny Gonzalez defending his WBO bantamweight crown against WBO junior bantamweight Fernando Montiel hoping to make Mexican history by winning a third weight division world title. He also has a world title as a flyweight.
The other two welterweights participating are Colombia’s Joel Julio facing Puerto Rico’s Carlos Quintero. They’ll meet on June 24 in Las Vegas at Caesars Palace. Each of the winners will then meet later this summer for the WBA world title.
Julio (27-0, 24 KOs) has been claimed as the next great 147-pounder by many in the boxing media, but the young power puncher has yet to meet an opponent that had outstanding physical tools. In Julio’s last fight he knocked out Robert Kamya in three rounds. It took Luis Hernandez two rounds to do the same. Hernandez was beaten by Williams in a 10-round decision.
Quintero (22-0, 18 KOs) is another question mark.
The Puerto Rican slugger has one big name on his ledger and that was Nurhan Suleyman, a clever boxer from Kazakhstan whose age has slowed him. But questions remain about Quintana and Julio. Can they beat an elite fighter?
Julio and Quintana will meet at Caesars Palace on June 24. The winner of their bout will meet the winner of the Williams-Matthysse contest later in the year, perhaps on Sept. 16.
In Southern California, IBF number one contender Mark “Poison” Suarez awaits word from Floyd Mayweather Jr., the new IBF welterweight champion. On paper Suarez should be Mayweather’s first opponent. But expect Pretty Boy to fight Oscar De La Hoya in a super mega bout in September should the East L.A. fighter beat Ricardo Mayorga for the WBC junior middleweight title. Top Rank claims Mayweather will fight Margarito on July 29 in Las Vegas, but that will only happen if De La Hoya loses. Even then it’s not a lock. An easier more lucrative bout awaits Mayweather if he signs to fight Mosley.
Suarez (25-2, 13 KOs) won his last fight with a one-round knockout over James “Spider” Webb in Madison Square Garden. It was his seventh straight knockout.
Negotiations for Andrade-Beyer WBC super middleweight bout
Librado Andrade will be fighting for the WBC super middleweight title against Markus Beyer says manager Al Haymon. The Las Vegas-based fighter who formerly worked out of La Habra, California, says he’s anxious for the big fight. “It’s what I dream about,” Andrade said. Golden Boy Promotion CEO Richard Shaeffer says the bidding has begun and hopes the bout will be held in the U.S. Beyer fights out of Germany.
Bojorquez helping Ouma
Carlos “El Elegante” Bojorquez was asked to help Kassim Ouma in his junior middleweight bout against Mexico’s Marco Antonio Rubio. Bojorquez flew to Houston, Texas, and will be there, he says, for two or three weeks. Manager Eddie Jordan said his fighter has a new look and looks better than ever: “You’re going to see a new Carlos Bojorquez.”
Bojorquez says he’s made some changes and wants a crack on the May 6 undercard of the Oscar De La Hoya-Ricardo Mayorga fight. Ouma is also on that card. “Hopefully,” Bojorquez said, “I can get a fight in Las Vegas.”
Bojorquez and Ouma fought three years ago. The Ugandan boxer won by technical stoppage in the eighth but was hurt by Bojorquez early in the fight.
The Mongoose is Back
Steve Quinonez doesn’t know who he’s fighting on May 3 in Palm Springs, but he knows he’s on the Goossen Tutor fight card at Big League Dreams ballpark. “I’ve already gone through about 30 possibilities,” said Quinonez exaggerating. “The fight is going to be at junior welterweight.”
Quinonez has been sparring with Julio Diaz who has a world title elimination bout against Ricky Quiles in Hollywood, Florida.
The main event of the fight card will be Sharmba “Little Big Man” Mitchell meeting Mexico’s Jose Luis “Chelin” Cruz in another welterweight contest. That’s a big test for Mitchell. Cruz never stops coming and proved he can fight the best in his loss to Sugar Shane Mosley last year.