Judge Lynne Carter scored it 115-113 Williams, Julie Lederman saw it 114-114 and Pierre Benoist had it 119-110 for Williams. As far as the scoring Carter and Lederman saw the fight that actually transpired (I scored it a draw 115-115). And judge Benoist should have his license revoked immediately and never be allowed to score a professional fight again. Which anyone reading this knows won't happen. He'll be hidden for a little while working lower profile fights and then we'll see him again working another big fight after the outrage over his scoring of Williams-Martinez subsides.
One of the backdrops before the fight was how Williams was short on opponents to fight. However, Sergio Martinez took care of that and a rematch between the two top junior middleweights would be terrific. A bigger story emerging from the fight this past Saturday night is how Williams has stagnated as a fighter despite the enormous physical talent he possesses.
Before touching on Williams and what he has to do to advance his career and growth as a fighter, it must be noted that Sergio Martinez may come out of this fight as the most avoided fighter in boxing. He's a very shrewd and cagey fighter and everyone saw how tough he is, but beating him doesn't carry the prestige of beating Williams.
As the Williams-Martinez fight progressed it was astonishing how no one noticed that all Martinez had to do (and he did it) was take one step back, pull his head and shoulders back when Williams over-committed his punches (which left his hands totally extended and his feet off balance), and then come over the top with the quick right hook. He did it all night (and added that great left to the body later in the fight), but nobody figured out what he was doing. It was a very smart move, but it's wasn't exactly impossible to anticipate once he'd done it the first hundred times.
Emanuel Steward never caught it nor did he mention it once during the broadcast of the fight. All he was interested in talking about was how Martinez would succumb to Williams' unrelenting pressure and how sure he was that Paul was a much tougher guy than Sergio. You think he still feels that way after watching them go at each other during the last six rounds of the fight?
The one thing Steward did mention during the bout was how tough it is to fight a tall guy who puts a lot of pressure on his opponent like Williams was doing against Martinez. What he failed to mention was Williams is all over the place in his pursuit when forced to fight as the aggressor for a majority of the bout. Williams has big problems finding his range and follows his opponent around the ring instead of using his body trying to get into position to take away their lateral movement. Paul tried to use his reach to cut the ring off on Martinez and that left him open to the lead counter. He also leaves his chin up in the air and was lucky Martinez wasn't a huge puncher.
Williams must learn that he must step in with his punches instead of reaching and pushing with them. Granted, his work rate does help nullify some of his fundamental shortcomings, but he would be much more dangerous if he utilized his tremendous size and natural ability to his fullest which cannot be said about him at this time.
While watching the fight it was obvious to see that Williams doesn't aim his left cross with much accuracy and intent. It seems as if after he fires his right jab a couple times that he subconsciously says to himself, "I better shoot the left now because that's what it says in the boxing cookbook to do." As opposed to firing it with a purpose.
Based on his first fight with Carlos Quintana and his last fight with Sergio Martinez, it looks like the time has come for Williams to bring in a first tier trainer. Yes, he stopped Quintana in the first round of their rematch, but that was more the case of him catching Carlos early and hurting him than it was Williams actually solving him stylistically. These two fights highlight how greatly ineffective Williams can be reduced strategically if he's forced to push the fight from bell-to-bell. Instead of fundamentals and technique he relies on his physicality and athleticism and takes too many punches flush while moving to his opponent.
Williams really lunges when he has to push the fight and over-commits. He relies on his reach too much. I could see that if he couldn't punch or fight on the inside, but he can. Relying on his reach, in conjunction with his good inside work, wouldn't be a bad idea at all if he had any sense of range. But he really hasn't learned a sense of range at all yet.
In boxing it's the little tweaks and adjustments that make all the difference in the world. As stated here before boxing is 95% the fighter and 5% the trainer. But that 5% is huge and the fighter needs that to maximize his potential and ability. His closest counterpart talent-wise is Chad Dawson. And you can see how far Dawson has come with Eddie Mustafa Muhammad training him. Dawson clearly has better basics and fundamentals than Williams, which I'm sure Eddie Mustafa Muhammad has no doubt played a huge part in developing.
The plus for Paul Williams is he's so teachable and has a ton of heart. Technically he does more things wrong than he does right but is able to overcome his flaws foundation-wise because he's got tremendous height and reach and is enormously talented. Unlike guys like Roy Jones, he can be taught and therefore it wouldn't take much for him to become a more formidable fighter. His eagerness to learn makes him almost a diamond in the rough and the extra 5% a first-tier trainer could give him would make all the difference in the world. Just look at the 5% Freddie Roach has brought to Manny Pacquiao for undeniable proof.
If I were managing Paul Williams, I'd hook him up with a trainer who'd start the learning process over again with boxing basics and fundamentals 101. And once he tightened that part of his game up he could tweak him strategically a bit.
As of now Paul "The Punisher" Williams is still a work in progress.
TSS tried, without all that much success, to stay focused on the near and concrete future, instead of the farther away theoretical future, at Madison Square Garden on Thursday afternoon. Top Rank held a press conference to tout their January 23 MSG-Theater card, which pits Juan Manuel Lopez, continuing his audition to be Puerto Rico's main pugilistic squeeze following the imminent departure of Miguel Cotto from the scene, against WBO 126 pound champion Steven Luevano; and a clash between Cuban emigrant Yuriorkis Gamboa, who is looking to make the leap from next generation star to superstar of today, and Tanzanian Rogers Mtagwa, who nearly had the crew at Top Rank's hearts exploding when he came thisclose to stopping JuanMa when they battled on Oct. 29.
Ideally for Top Rank and the favored hitters, JuanMa and Gamboa will both leave New York victors, and will then face off against each other in one of the most anticipated young gun vs. young gunfaceoffs in recent fistic history.
JuanMa, though he's 27-0 with 24 KOs, will enter the new year with the most question marks attached to him. Being life or death with Mtagwa (26-13-2 with 18 KOs) wasn't what anyone expected, except maybe the 30-year-old Mtagwa, and perhaps his promotional/managerial team of Joe Parella and Russell Peltz during their most hopeful interludes. The Philly based Tanzanian almost had WBO 122 pound champ Lopez stopped in the 11th and 12th, but instead of backing off, and mixing in some body shots to drop JuanMa's hands, he went headhunting, and was too eager to finish the job. The ultra-underdog dropped a UD, in what TSS-EM sees as the 2009 Fight of the Year. He and manager Parella chatted with TSS before the press conference kicked off on Thursday.
Parella, a Philly guy who's worked as a cutman and manager for the last fifteen years, was forthright in his critique of Mtagwa. "As far as I'm concerned, he can defeat anybody, but against Lopez he defeated himself," Parella said. "That's true," Mtagwa admitted. "We'd tell him, 'Use the jab,' and he wouldn't."
Parella said he brought in the legendary Georgie Benton to work with Mtagwa a while back, and Benton made some sense to the hitter when he asked, "Look at my head, look at my body...Which is bigger?" But the Tanzanian admitted toTSS that he is prone to head hunting, and vowed that against Gamboa, he'll not forget the lesson learned with Benton. Parella shook his head, with a mixture of resignation and amazement at Mtagwa's cajones, which sometimes get him into trouble. "He gets mad if he don't get hit," he said.
Gamboa is speedier than JuanMa, so Mtagwa and trainer "Boogaloo" Watts haven't set on a fight plan for the Cuban. The fighter is pleased, he said, to get the shot at Gamboa, and will be making the largest purse of his 12-year pro career.* Parella acknowledged that a rematch with Lopez would've been nice, but being a realist, he understands it isn't feasible. He also said he thinks the CalifornianLuevano might be a better style matchup for Mtagwa, but it is what it is. "We're small fish," he said. "How do you argue with Top Rank, or any big promoter?"
The fighter himself showed a refreshing level of realism when he pegged his chances of beating the 16-0 Gamboa at 50-50.
And, he said, he's biding his time for another crack at the Puerto Rican. "I know I'm gonna get him again," he said.
The WBA featherweight champ Gamboa, the 2004 Olympic gold medallist who turns 28 on Dec. 23, has supposedly turned it up a notch in training, according to promoterAhmet Oner. "He's a different guy, from a different planet," Oner promised.
As much as anyone I recall seeing, the 28-year-old Luevano, in street clothes, doesn't look like a fighter. Top Rank's Todd DeBouef, working as host while father-n-law Bob Arum works to hash out a Manny-Mayweather deal in the Phillipines, said as much. He referenced the WBO titlist's pasty skin and unimpressive musculature, but made sure to tell all in attendance that one shouldn't judge the book by the mediocre cover. The 28-year-oldLuevano (37-1-1 with 15 KOs ) won his crown in July 2007 against Nicky Cook, and has reeled off four wins and a draw since. His last outing came on Aug. 15, when he got aDQ7 win over Bernabe Concepcion, who was disqualified for landing telling blows after the bell.
Fight fans are curious to see if the lefty JuanMa has learned from his brush with defeat, and wonder how he'll handle the leap from 122 to 126. "People think I underestimate Luevano," he said, "I know how good he is. Steven is not just a steppingstone." The southpaw titlist, interestingly, showed deference and gratitude to the challenger, when he said, "I'd like to thankJuanMa for the opportunity."
HBO will televise the card, on the first Boxing After Dark of 2010.
Check back on TSS tomorrow, for more from the gathering. I chatted with HBO's Kery Davis, and a few other power brokers who gave some hints on what we'll be seeing in 2010.
*--Funny aside. I asked Parella what Mtagwa would be making, and advisor Russell Peltz was sitting in front of Parella. I was seated in a chair, one row behind Parella, and two behind Peltz. When I asked about the purse, I noted Peltz shook his head, side to side, a minute amount. Parella was looking at me, and I don't think saw that, but he was right on board with Russell. "I'm not talking about that," he said to me. Nope, not even off the record. I'm guessing that Mtagwa will get a meaty chunk of change for the scrap, and his guys and maybe Top Rank don't want the specifics out there, so other challengers don't see any precedence being set. Then again, maybe Russell had a crick in his neck, and was merely stretching his muscles...
You'll recall that Diaz won a unanimous decision, by scores of 115-113, 116-112, and 118-110, fro Mr Van Hoy, who subsequently admitted he may have had an off night. Most all agreed he did, in a big way, but nobody railed against Van Hoy like Paulie did. After the bout, he blasted the judge, and Golden Boy, and the Texas commission, strongly implying that there was an odious arrangement in place which paved the way for a Diaz win.
On a Monday conference call to hype the rematch, which takes place at the UIC Pavillion in Chicago, a world away from Houston, Paulie (26-3, just 5 KOs) didn't really back off much from his stance that he wuz robbed. He said that Van Hoy likely made a "conscious effort" to award the bout to the 26-year-old Diaz (35-2, 17 KOs), though he didn't repeat any aspersion towards Oscar De La Hoya of Golden Boy, who was on the call, along with Paulie's promoter, Lou DiBella. (Dibella plugged his AA baseball team, the Richmond Flying Squirrels, while phoning in from the baseball winter meetings.)
Bad judging was a constant theme on the call, as all participants agreed that some reform needs to be adopted so the sport isn't beset by so many post-fight calls of "robbery," which was the cry on Saturday, after Dibella fighter Sergio Martinez got the short end of it against Paul Williams. Judge Pierre Benoist wore the Van Hoy mask in AC on Saturday, turning in a surprising 119-110 card, which meant he gave the impressive Martinez a scant one round over the course of twelve tight frames. Two weeks ago, "robbery" was the cry after Joan Guzman escaped Quebec with a draw against Ali Funeka. TSS-EM thought Guzman won the first half of that bout, so he wasn't set off by this call overly. But add them all together, it is clear that reform is needed. And perhaps yearly eyesight exams?
Dibella mentioned that the Promoters Association might push for a change in practice, so promoters are no longer responsible for paying judges for their time and travel. That's a no brainer. A database to log all decisions, so suspicious or egregious decisions can be red flagged and cited easily at regular intervals would also make sense.
"It's a big, big problem," Dibella said. "You had another card that was filled out before or a judge who doesn't know what he's doing (on Saturday, in the Williams-Martinez bout.) It's not fair to either fighter."
Paulie called in from the airport, on his way to ChiTown. He said that he thinks he'll be better this time around. He said that he didn't spar for six weeks before the last bout, and only did pads and bags because he hurt his ribs.
Before the first bout, he didn't think he'd get a fair shake in Texas, but said that he has no beef with the announced officials: ref Genaro “Geno” Rodriguez of Illinois, and judges Mauro DiFiore of Illinois, Ohio’s Tom Miller and Florida’s Michael Pernick. "This is a neutral site," said the Brooklyner. "Both fighters can benefit. I'm cool, man."
Props go to Diaz for taking the rematch. It's difficult style matchup for him, and he could've said "been there, did that" and targeted someone else. Props also to Oscar, for not taking Paulie's Tweets to heart, and steering away from a rematch. He agreed with Dibella, that the sport needs uniformity in standards and practices for judges on the call. "My problem is how far apart the scoring is," ODLH said.
Writer John Whistler, who works out of San Antonio, got on the line and tried to defend the honor of the Texas commission, and Malignaggi wouldn't hear of it. He said he'd catalogued a b-load of bad decisions in Texas, and deemed the rot systemic. He cited the Feb. 28 draw call in the Chris John-Rocky Juarez bout; Van Hoy saw it 114-114 in a clash that I thought John clearly won. "Let's stop protecting Gale Van Hoy and the Texas commission. Let's not cut corners and make excuses." I'm with Paulie, on Van Hoy and all judges handing in cards on acid. Let's hammer them, and shame them into getting better. Not sure why Whistler felt the need to defend the indefensible here...
Paulie said that he saw one or two things that he'd exploit in the rematch, while Diaz promised to be busier than the New Yorker this time.
The New York-based hitter got what he wanted. He put in the time, energy and effort organizing his peeps to email HBO and Golden Boy, and savvy self-marketers should take notes on his campaign. His promoter said he didn't worry that Paulie's slams and slaps would bite him in the rear, and wreck the prospects for a rematch. ""He's fiery and emotional by nature," Lou said. "I know he didn't mean what he said, out of anger in the moment." I'm pretty sure he did, but Lou wisely played the conciliator in this case.
Saturday, we'll see if all that Facebooking and Tweeting pays off, and Paulie can show the world and that guy named Gale that he was in error in August. And if he wins, may we suggest a new nickname for "The Magic Man." How about Paulie "The Twitter Hitter" Malignaggi?
BURIED LEDE DEPT After I read Richard Schaefer saying that Joe Calzaghe, who retired in February with a 46-0 mark, might unretire and fight Bernard Hopkins, I Facebook messaged friend Joe Calzaghe, and asked him if this was true. "Yes," he wrote back. And then he un-friended me. Not sure why...So I friended his dad-trainer Enzo, and followed up. Haven't heard back. Or been un-friended. I will keep you all apprised...
I’ve written about boxing since I was 16 years old, and my run with the sweet science has been an exhilarating ride. But I’m starting to think that fight writing is a chapter of my life I want limited to my teenage years. So, unfortunately, this round of boxing notes will be my last non-blog story about the fistic arts, at least for a long time. Enjoy.
John Duddy: What’s Left
I got into boxing because my grandfather was an amateur fighter and my father has always been a huge fight fan. Being a proud Irish American, my dad has always hyped boxing’s best Irish boxers, leaving me with a soft spot in my heart for pugs like Barry McGuigan and Stevie Collins.
Watching Belfast native John Duddy’s rise to prominence will always be my fondest memory of the fight game because I’ve been able to share it with my father. I was a nerdy 15 year old when my dad took me to see Duddy pummel overmatched Joseph Brady on a small card in Mansfield, Massachusetts, and the two of us have lived and died with Duddy’s every punch since.
Once a hot prospect, Duddy is now considered an overrated white hype with porous defense. His loss to journeyman Billy Lyell in April was both career damaging and embarrassing.
But don’t count Duddy out just yet.
Part of what makes Irish fighters special is their innate heart and will. Duddy is one of the toughest, most determined pugs in the world today, and one loss will be far from enough to derail him from achieving more greatness.
There is talk that Duddy will face Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. on the undercard of a potential Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight . Although the Irishman will be the clear underdog, I like Duddy’s chances. Because of his robust hands, he can land a knockout blow at any time. And because of his immense heart, he’ll likely have a full 10 rounds to land that punch.
Pacquiao-Mayweather: No Excuses
It’s every boxing fan’s Christmas wish: A Pacquiao-Mayweather 2010 showdown. I don’t care who wins, and I don’t care who gets what percentage of the purse. All I care is that the fight is made. It could be the biggest bout in history.
HBO: Keep at it
In January I wrote an article in defense of HBO, who I believe is single handedly keeping boxing interesting and fun for fans (http://www.thesweetscience.com/boxing-article/6487/cheer-ross-dan-fan). I’d like to reiterate my respect for the network and all of its new, innovative ways for fight fans to get closer to the sweet science and express my hope for continued growth in its boxing programming.
Awesome Pacquiao Song
Pacquiao’s star appeal is amazing: American glam-rock bands are writing songs about him.
Pomona, California-based rockers Desperation Squad recently recorded a tune about Pacquiao and put the song on their Myspace page. You can hear “Runnin’ with the Pacman” at Myspace.com/desperationsquad
PLEASE STAY IN TOUCH
Even though this may be my final story for a boxing Web site, I would like to everyone to keep in touch and continue to read my material.
I have started a blog I plan to update frequently. I will continue to share some of my thoughts on the fight game through this blog, so please visit and subscribe. www.TheAwesomeColumn.Blogspot.com
I’m also currently busy finishing up my second book, which you can find information on at www.CatTalesBook.Blogspot.com . I’ll be hooking on with a new, non-boxing-related publication soon to pump the book.
If I enter the boxing world again, it will either be to write another book, start an Internet television show, or dabble in boxing promotion and management. Until then, thank you to everyone who has read my work. Boxing is both a magical and tragic sport that I hope will continue to help underprivileged youth find discipline and an escape from rough upbringings.
Now suddenly a national hero to her native country, Malpartida showed a boisterous pro-Peruvian crowd just why she has the world title despite suffering a knockdown against British challenger Lyndsey Scragg for the WBA junior lightweight world title on Saturday.
Malpartida successfully defended her world title for a second time and convincingly showed what a long jab and quick combinations could do despite a tough Scragg (10-2) in front of 1,564 mostly cheering fast at Citizen’s Business Bank Arena. A vast majority of the crowd were Peruvians anxious to see the new national hero.
Malpartida delivered what those fans in the arena and millions watching back in her native Peru expected. It was a dominating performance.
“I felt so much pressure,” said Malpartida (11-3), whose fight was televised live in Peru. “I really have a lot at stake.”
She didn’t show nervousness as she zoomed to the middle of the ring shooting her now trademark left jab. Over and over she pumped that jabbed for the first three rounds as Scragg looked for openings but seemed tentative to move in against Malpartida’s dozens of incoming blows.
In the second round Malpartida landed consecutive overhand right leads that stunned Scragg but didn’t hurt her. Again the Peruvian fighter fired many more punches as Scragg seemed more intent on not getting hit.
The British fighter finally began fighting her way inside of Malpartida’s reach in the third round. A couple of left hook counters scored but she still couldn’t compete with the punch output of the Peruvian fighter.
Malpartida seemed to get stronger as the rounds developed. But while going into full attack mode in the sixth round a left hook counter dropped the Peruvian girl for the count. She got up and looked at her corner for advice as the referee gave the count.
“She hit me at the right time and at the right distance,” Malpartida said of getting knocked down by Scragg. “It was a good punch but I wasn’t hurt.”
After a more tenuous round in the seventh, Malpartida increased her attack from the eighth round on and began bludgeoning the British fighter with stiff right hand crosses. It seemed every right hand landed.
Scragg had little success fighting in the inside once Malpartida began to avoid the left hook.
The judges scored the fight 98-91 twice and 97-92 for Malpartida. All of her Peruvian fans cheered “Peru! Peru!”
“My jab and combinations won the fight,” said Malpartida who was near tears after the decision was given to her. “My life has changed so much since winning the title.”
The semi-main event saw Peru’s Carlos Zambrano (9-0) out-point Coachella’s Carlos Hernandez (14-9-1) in a featherweight fight that went eight rounds. Most of the rounds saw Zambrano running around the ring to the crowd’s disapproval. But the several rounds he stopped resulted in some see-saw in-fighting with Zambrano using his faster hands to score while Hernandez landed several bombs. The judges scored the fight 77-75 twice and 76-76 and a majority decision for Zambrano.
Jose Armando Santa Cruz (28-4, 17 KOs) seemed a little rusty until a right hand connected and wobbled Anthony Mora (15-5, 10 KOs) in the third round. Santa Cruz continued the pressure and staggered Mora along the ropes forcing the referee to stop the fight at 1:52 of the round.
Rickey Duenas (5-1) and Alan Sanchez (4-1) fought four tough rounds. The judges scored it 38-38 a draw and 39-37, 40-36 for Duenas in a welterweight bout.
Oscar Venegas (2-0) kept his undefeated streak intact and handed Peru’s Mario Gonzalez (4-1) his first career loss in an action packed bantamweight slugfest. Gonzalez pressed the fight but the judges preferred Venegas after four round 40-36.
Peru’s Juan Zegarra (4-0) didn’t waste time in going after San Bernardino’s Javier Romero (0-2-1) in a junior welterweight contest. In the opening bell as Romero attempted to touch gloves Zegarra fired an overhand right that missed. But the fight was on. In the second round a right cross to Romero’s chin dropped him for the count. Referee David Denkin stopped the fight at 2:00 of the second round.
Ana wins on Friday
Ana Julaton won by unanimous decision against Donna Biggers in a 10 round fight held Friday at the HP Pavilion.
Julaton, who already has the IBA junior featherweight title, defeated Biggers for the vacant WBO junior featherweight title. The San Francisco Bay fighter is quickly gathering fans up and down the California coast and in the Philippines.
The judges scored it 99-91 twice and 100-90 for Julaton who was trained by Rick Noble for this fight. In previous fights Nonito Donaire Sr. and Freddie Roach had prepared the pretty brunette. Albuquerque
A much anticipated showdown between two top female fighters pound for pound was nixed just an hour before the fight. Melissa Hernandez of New York pulled out of the fight against Holly Holm when her request for a rewrap of the hands was ignored. Hernandez refused to fight and Holm fought a replacement fighter and won.
Hernandez’s refusal to fight could have repercussions.
Maureen Shea’s fight with Jenna Shiver for a title was canceled when Shiver could not pass her physical examination. The bout was going to be aired on television nationwide.
For the record, Williams captured a majority decision over Martinez in an intriguing and at times spectacular fight at Boardwalk Hall to extend his professional record to 37-1, but for most of the evening he did not much at all look like a candidate for anybody's pound-for-pound list, with the possible exception of Pierre Benoist's.
Only in the opening minute did things look as if they were going to go according to plan: Wielding his right-handed jab like a rapier, Williams drove Martinez into a neutral corner, and then dropped him with a left -- although replays would later suggest that the knockdown punch actually caught Martinez high on the scapula, and hence could conceivably not have been a knockdown at all.
Whether it was or it wasn't, Martinez at the very least evened the ledger when, just before the bell ended the first, he floored Williams with a hard right hook. This essentially set the tone for the balance of the evening: Williams was more mobile, more active, and landed marginally more punches. (299-254, according to CompuBox.)
Martinez, on the other hand, landed by far the harder punches, many of them delivered in the form of that same right hook with which he tormented Williams all night long. If Williams had a small edge in volume, Martinez had a big one in accuracy, connecting at a 43% rate to Williams 28%.
"He is supposed to be the most feared man in boxing?" shrugged "Marvavilla" after the fight. "I did not fear him at all."
That is almost certainly true. Suffice it to say that no one, including Carlos Quintana, the one guy who beat him, has ever treated Williams this way -- with what, on this night, anyway, bordered on disdain.
Martinez (44-2-2), had stepped into the breach six weeks earlier after Kelly Pavlik had pulled out of what had originally been intended as a middleweight title defense. The 34 year-old Argentine, who has lived in Spain for the last seven years, even offered to bring a title of his own, but Williams, who had been training for a 160-pound bout, wasn't interested.
(Martinez had won the WBC's interim 154-pound title by beating Alex Bunema last year, and then retained it in February after battling to a draw with Kermit Cintron. His championship was subsequently promoted to the full monty when Vernon Forrest was unable to meet his obligation to consolidate the WBC versions.)
A son of the south who has done most of his fighting on the Left Coast, Williams (38-1) had burst into the national consciousness two years ago when he defeated Antonio Margarito to win the WBO welterweight title. In his first defense he suffered a shock loss to Quintana, but redeemed it in a rematch by scoring a first-round knockout.
Williams' strategy, he would say later, was "to keep making him fight and making him feel uncomfortable," though it was unclear that he truly succeeded in either. Although Martinez did appear weary before the fight was one-third over, he battled on throughout the evening.
"I know he's a good boxer, but I was never hurt," insisted Martinez. The Argentine's right cheekbone was slightly discolored for much of the night, but Williams incurred even more damage. A cut had sprouted above his left eye even before a clash of heads late in the third opened another. (Williams was taken to a local hospital to have the cuts attended to, and skipped the post-fight press conference.)
The appreciative crowd loudly applauded both fighters at the bout's conclusion. Things didn't get ugly until they announced the scores.
For the record, The Sweet Science-GK had Williams in front 115-113, the same total as judge Lynn Carter. It was a close fight, and we'd have had absolutely no problem with the same score in the other direction. Benoist's version, on the other hand, was so preposterous that he had to make a quick exit from the ring and take refuge behind the commission table -- whether from the fans or from Martinez' promoter Lou DiBella remains unlearned.
"I thought my guy won by a point or two, and I could have lived with a close decision," said DiBella, "But when I heard that 119-110 score I wanted to hit the effing guy."
Put it this way: The third judge, Julie Lederman, who had it even at 114-114, came a lot closer to being on the money than did Benoist. On the other hand, his card was so laughable that he could in the end serve DiBella's purpose as this fight's Gale Van Hoy, should it be determined that it was rotten enough to warrant a rematch.
Martinez, in any case, said he'd welcome one.
"A rematch?" said Williams before leaving for the emergency room. "Hey, if HBO wants it, I'm all in."
The paying customers and the HBO audience got an unanticipated bonus from a co-feature that turned into a Pier Six brawl. It was hard to escape the feeling that Cristobal Arreola may have been in a few of these before, and while In the end it was a gritty Brian Minto who went out on his shield, it was not without dishing out all his more accomplished street-fighting adversary could handle over the first three rounds.
Spotting Arreola 45 pounds, an undaunted Minto was a gutsy aggressor through those early rounds, even though his his discolored left cheek had swollen to the size and approximate hue of a large eggplant. Minto was pressed forward, winging combinations, body shots, and right-hand leads that kept Arreola ducking, but there was the overwhelming sense that danger was never far away, as Arreola's lethally-aimed counter shots repeatedly whistled past his head.
It was the fourth round before Arreola finally connected, and when he did it was with a big right hand that dropped the former Slippery Rock linebacker in his tracks. (Asked if he'd ever been hurt, Arreola replied in the affirmative: "Yeah," he said, "I hurt my hand on Minto's head.")
Although clearly hurt, Minto got up, seemingly more determined than ever, and in the exchange that followed Arreola was cut across the bridge of his nose. Alas for Minto, this occurred at roughly the time his hematoma burst. Although he appeared to wing Arreola with an overhand right thrown almost blindly Arreola stepped inside, set him up with a left, and then landed a crunching right that sent Minto down again. Although he was able to arise, Eddie Cotton waved it off at 2:40 of the round.
CompuBox stats revealed that Arreola had not only outjabbed Minto 98-63 but had landed a whopping 34 of 46 power shots in the less than three minutes the fourth round lasted.
"It was a great fight, and my hat's off to Minto," said Arreola, who improved to 28-1 with the win. (Perhaps as significantly, the aggregate record of his last dozen opponents, has been 291-42-9.) Having dominated -- eventually -- a tough and rugged opponent in his first trip back since being stopped by Vitali Klitschko, Arreola seemed philosophical about that loss.
"I lost to Klitschko, but I showed I'm still a legitimate contender," said Arreola. "Besides, who's better than Vitali?"
The 34 year-old Minto's record dropped to 34-3 with the loss, but he left Boardwalk Hall buoyed by a legion of new fans.
Former welterweight champion Carlos Quintana, who authored Williams' only professional loss, bounced back from a second-round knockdown to stop the always-game Jesse Feliciano via a third-round TKO.
"[Feliciano] is a hard puncher, and he caught me a little off balance," Quintana recalled the embarrassing trip to the canvas. Then, less than a minute into the third, a solid left hand from the southpaw Quintana ripped open a gash along Feliciano's right eyelid. Referee Randy Neumann halted action and summoned the ringside physician, Dr. Marc Shaber, who unhesitatingly recommended that the bout be stopped.
"It was a deep cut, and about an inch and a half long," explained Shaber.
The ending came at 0:59 of the round. Quintana improved to 27-2 (the losses were to Miguel Cotto and Williams in the rematch), while Feliciano's record dropped to 15-8-3.
In what otherwise hasn't been a great week for guys named Tiger, Washington heavyweight Tony (The Tiger) Thompson followed eight rounds of hibernation by stirring just enough to stop Chazz Witherspoon at 2:13 of the ninth in their scheduled 10-rounder.
Thompson, TKO'd by Wladimir Klitschko in a Hamburg title fight last year, was the larger and stronger of the two, but seemed unable to put together two sustained minutes, much less two rounds. He and Witherspoon had battled on essentially even terms through the penultimate round, when Thompson rocked the erstwhile Mensa Mauler with a right hook followed by a straight left that knocked him sideways. Benji Esteves, ruling that only the ropes had kept Witherspoon up, administered a count before turning Thompson loose again, but when four punches in succession brought no response, the referee quickly moved to rescue Witherspoon.
Thompson is 33-2 after his latest win, while Witherspoon, whose only previous blemish had been a DQ at the hands of Arreola, dropped to 26-2.
Jorge Diaz, the unbeaten New Brunswick (NJ) featherweight handled by longtime Arturo Gatti manager Pat Lynch, went to 11-0 with a first-round knockout of Puerto Rican Luis Paneto (5-7-2). Paneto went down from a short right to the chin and took Eddie Cotton's count in a neutral corner, stumbling to his feet just a millisecond (Oh, darn!) too late.
The opening act of the six-bout card saw Jeremiah Wiggins (7-0-1) of Newport News, Va. score a unanimous decision over Manuel Guzman (6-9-2) of Lancaster, Pa. There were no official knockdowns, though Guzman caught a breather from Esteves when he spit out his mouthpiece in the final round. Frank Cappuccino had Wiggins by a shutout 60-54, while Debra Barnes had it 59-55 and Hal Bennett 58-56. * ** * AT BOARDWALK HALL ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. December 5, 2009 MIDDLEWEIGHTS: Paul Williams, 157, Augusta, Ga. dec. Sergio Gabriel Martinez, 159, Buenos Aires, Argentina (12) HEAVYWEIGHTS: Cristobal Arreola, 263, Riverside, Calif. TKO'd Brian Minto, 218, Butler, Penn. (4) Tony Thompson, 250, Washington, D.C TKO'd Chazz Witherspoon, 234, Paulsboro, N.J. (9) JUNIIOR MIDDLEWEIGHTS: Carlos Quintana, 153 1/2, Moca, Puerto Rico TKO'd Jesse Feliciano, 152 1/2, Las Vegas, Nev. (3) Jeremiah Wiggins, 151 1/2, Newport News, Va. dec. Manuel Guzman, 150, Lancaster, Pa. FEATHERWEIGHTS: Jorge Diaz, 123 1/2, New Brunswick, NJ KO'd Luis Angel Paneto, 121 1/2, Caguas, Puerto Rico (1)
Pacquiao is less than a month removed from his last fight in which he stopped Miguel Cotto in the 12th round to capture the WBO welterweight title. Mayweather's last fight was contested on September 19th when he won a lopsided 12-round decision over Juan Manuel Marquez. Both Pacquiao and Mayweather fought in catch-weight bouts the last time out. Pacquiao weighed in at 145 and Mayweather weighed in a pound heavier at 146 and their upcoming fight, (if the reports are true) will be fought at 147 with Pacquiao's WBO title on the line.
It's almost unfathomable that a super-fight the likes of Pacquiao-Mayweather will be realized so soon after both last fought. That just doesn't happen in boxing. Usually the super big fights are signed five or six months before taking place. And if Pacquiao and Mayweather actually sign to meet on March 13th of 2010, roughly sixteen weeks after Pacquiao's last fight, it'll be the quickest a big fight has ever taken place after the official announcement of it in recent memory.
The quickest a mega fight has ever been realized after it was initially signed was the first fight between "Smokin" Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali. But there was a huge reason as to why that was the case and the fight happened so quickly.
Frazier-Ali had been in the making since Frazier showed up at Ali's public workout prior to his last title defense of the sixties versus Zora Folley in March of 1967. When Joe showed up someone suggested that he and Ali pose for a picture together. When Frazier advanced towards Ali to pose for the picture, Ali leaned over and put his arm around Frazier and said, "You're too short to give me any real trouble." To which Joe replied, "We'll see about that." Once Frazier fired back at Ali it was on and Muhammad began hyping Joe as a future threat to him and his heavyweight title.
As most know Ali was exiled from boxing and stripped of his undisputed heavyweight title a month after stopping Folley in the seventh round. For the next three plus years while Ali was fighting the United States government in court for draft evasion, Joe Frazier succeeded him as heavyweight champion of the world.
After a 43 month exile Ali returned to the ring on October 26, 1970 and stopped Jerry Quarry in three rounds in his first fight since beating Zora Folley. Six weeks later he stopped Oscar Bonavena in the 15th round on December 7, 1970. Once Quarry and Bonavena were dispatched, the drumbeat for Frazier-Ali, (which was how the fight was billed) began to explode with anticipation.
On December 30, 1970 Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali signed to fight on March 8, 1971, roughly 12-weeks after Ali beat Bonavena in his last fight. Granted, the interest world wide for Frazier-Ali was unprecedented and the time between the actual signing and the fight itself was unheard of.
But that was for a very good reason.
During Ali's exile, a proposed fight between he and Frazier seemed on the verge of being made but always fell apart before it could be finalized. Once Ali's boxing license was reinstated the thought behind the promotion was to make the fight as soon as possible. And that was because Ali's case for draft evasion was going before the U.S. Supreme Court in June of 1971. The thought at the time was that he was going to lose the case and have to serve his five year prison sentence imposed on him in June of 1967.
The March 8 date was the only open date for Madison Square Garden before the June Supreme Court case. And to clear the slate for the 8th, James Taylor had to agree to not holding a concert that night at the Garden. With the thought being Ali would be going to prison in June, the promoters feared if Frazier-Ali wasn't realized before the June court case, the fight would never happen. And there was way too much money involved for everybody to take that risk.
Given his choice, Ali wanted more time to get ready for Frazier and was hopeful of meeting Joe in mid May. However, Frazier was insistent that the fight take place in Madison Square Garden and March 8th had to be the date.
On March 8, 1971 Joe Frazier won a hard fought 15-round unanimous decision over Muhammad Ali to become the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. On June 28, 1971 Ali won a bigger fight when the Supreme Court over-turned his draft conviction by an 8-0 vote and the rest is history.
Frazier-Ali was the largest grossing fight in boxing history at the time. And the five million dollar guaranteed purse they split was also the largest purse split by any two fighters at that time. If Pacquiao-Mayweather happens on March 13, 2010 it'll probably be the biggest grossing fight in boxing history. And if it's the biggest grossing fight of all-time Pacquiao and Mayweather may both gross over $40 million dollars apiece which would be a record.
As of this writing it looks as though Pacquiao-Mayweather will be made almost as quickly as the most anticipated fight in boxing history, Frazier-Ali. Along with that Manny and Floyd look to have a real shot at splitting the biggest purse ever in boxing.
And if Pacquiao-Mayweather is half the fight Frazier-Ali turned out to be, we'll all be winners.
Few people outside the immediate family and friends of Sergio Martinez believe this is likely on tonight in Atlantic City and with good reason. Williams is considered one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world, a freak of nature who stands 6-1 with a reach of 82 inches yet can fight anywhere from 147 pounds to 160 pounds and maybe beyond.
He will have every physical advantage against Martinez, a junior middleweight who took this fight on a month’s notice after Williams’ second scheduled middleweight title fight with Kelly Pavlik fell through. What he won’t have is the mental edge, which on this kind of night can be more important than any other factor.
For Martinez this fight is an opportunity. It is a chance to put himself on the radar screen of mainstream boxing fans, something that hasn’t happened despite a 44-1-2 record and two recent appearances on HBO. Although Williams’ handlers insist he is the most avoided man in boxing, Martinez jumped at the chance because, for him, it is just that. A chance he has longed for. For Sergio Martinez, this is a welcomed night, an early Christmas present.
But for Paul Williams the situation is far different. This fight is a disappointment, one Williams will be reminded of when he walks into Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City and sees the main room dark while he fights in the far smaller Adrian Phillips Ballroom because the promoters knew they would be lucky to fill what few seats they could squeeze in there with a main event like this one.
For months Williams (37-1, 27 KO) thought he was going to be in a Fight of the Year candidate, a career-changing event that could have made him a potential pay-per-view star. Oh, and he also was going to fighting for the middleweight title. Now he has this.
Pavlik kept saying he wanted to fight Williams and then kept pulling out with what became the longest running hand infection since before the invention of penicillin. Eventually Williams had to do something to get some work so he agreed to this fight after his handlers made clear they wanted no part of more high-profile opponents like Shane Mosley or Joshua Clottey, who are more welterweights these days than middleweights.
So Williams finds himself facing a guy he insists he’s taking seriously but who he frankly can’t be taking all that seriously. Williams is third on most pound-for-pound lists behind only Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, Jr. Martinez is lucky if he’s third on most junior middleweight lists….and that is what makes him dangerous.
It will be far easier for Paul Williams to overlook Sergio Martinez than to overwhelm him. It is never easy fighting a southpaw, especially when you are left-handed yourself. It is also not easy fighting Martinez, who is 28-0-1 since being knocked out by Antonio Margarito (and who knows whether or not he had a horse shoe in his glove?) nearly 10 years ago.
The simple fact is Martinez is not as good a fighter or as gifted a one as Paul Williams but he is better than he gets credit for and good enough to pull off an upset on a night like this, when so many factors could come into play.
Not the least of them is Williams’ mindset. Every fighter says before the fight he’s ready, he’s focused, he’s not affected by the fact he’s not fighting the guy he thought he would fight for the money he thought he would make on the stage he thought he’d be on. Then the bell rings, he fights listlessly and after the bout says he couldn’t get up for it.
Time will tell if that is Paul Williams’ dilemma or if he rids himself of this latest problem with the kind of constant flurrying that has so many more recognizable names disinterested in facing him. Whatever happens it will be far more entertaining than the co-feature, which is a trip to the batting cage for Cris Arreola (27-1, 24 KO), the heavyweight from California who was beaten from pillar to post in his last outing by WBC champion Vitali Klitschko.
Arreola returns to the ring against Brian Minto (34-2, 21 KO). Brian Minto is a game guy. We move on.
If Williams does as expected he then needs to make a decision. He is unranked by the WBC, WBA or IBF despite the fact he’s considered to be among the top 10 pound-for-pound fighters in the world because since twice holding the welterweight title he hasn’t been in a weight division long enough to be ranked.
He says that’s because he can’t get any fights and hence has to take what he can find wherever he can find it. Perhaps but if he can’t find Kelly Pavlik any time soon he would be best served to go dominate one of those weight classes until there’s no one left to duck him.
Of course, before he does that he better remember to duck when Sergio Martinez walks out to greet him Saturday night or he may not have to worry for a while about anything else.
The Brit Khan, age 22, may well be the top dog at 140, now that Freddie Roach has tightened up his defense and instilled some of that Pacmannish desire for destruction; he smashed Salita immediately, just ten seconds in, with a one-two, and Salita was on his butt. He arose, and was down again off a few combos with 55 seconds elapsed.
The fight was stopped by ref Luis Pabon after the third knockdown, as the shaky legged Salita ate a left hook which sent him back into the ropes, hanging on for dear life.
The fight, such as it was, lasted just 76 seconds. It was Khan’s first defense of the belt, won from Andriy Kotelnik in July.
The 27-year-old Ukrainian born Salita wasn't given much of a chance from pundits, as most cited his paper-thin resume. But one wondered if perhaps he'd be able to channel some of the same energy that Yuri Foreman, another Jewish icon residing in New York, summoned in his takedown of WBA 154 pound champion Daniel Santos on Nov. 14. It was not to be.
Long Tall Paul didn't look like a top 50 pound for pounder when Martinez scored a knockdown in the first, after going down himself midway through the frame. His balance was iffy, and Martinez' counterpunching superiority threatened to make me feel like a mega fool regarding the "pound for pound" prouncement to Davis. But Williams hung around, and kept plugging away. His aggressiveness and forward movement over-ruled Julie Lederman, who scored it 114-114, as Lynn Carter was more impressed, at 115-113, and Pierre Benoist even more so, as he saw Williams a 119-110 winner.
I'd argue that was waaay too wide a margin, but Williams wasn't. He was handed a majority decision win in a stellar scrap that demands a rematch. LTP said he'd be happy to tangle with Martinez again afterwards.
We can all agree that Benoist will have to pay for a ticket to see the sequel, huh? "I say he's blind," Jim Lampley said of Benoist. "It was a very close fight."
Martinez told Kellerman he wasn't beat at the end of the round. Max said he thought Martinez won by a small margin, and asked the boxer what he thought of the Benoist card. "I thought it was a true error," he said. "We should have a rematch," he said, in closing.
Williams (from SC, living in Georgia; 37-1, with 27 KOs) was 157 pounds, while Martinez (from Argentina, living in CA; 44-1-2, with 22 KOs entering) was 159 pounds at the Friday weigh-in.
Williams came out on fire in the first. A left up top put down Martinez with 1:51 elapsed. It grazed the top of his head, for the record. He came back with a hard left, which buzzed LTP. A right hook sent Williams down at the very end of the first.
In the second, Williams was caught with a counter right. He was lunging, and was surprised by Martinez' arsenal and tools. The champ was dropping his hands, and was in a zone of ultra confidence.
LTP tried to dictate distance more in the third. A right hook stung Paul, twice, three times.
In the fourth, it got uglier. Tons of infighting, which benefitted Martinez. Williams telegraphed too much, but a straight left hurt Martinez, who held on the end the round. A bad cut appeared appeared on LTP's right lid. It opened from a butt.
In the fifth, Martinez' hands were at his knees. Was he gassed, or trying to lure LTP? The lefties traded at the 1:10 mark of a solid action scrap. Martinez tackled LTP, and they both fell to the canvas.
In round six, Williams pumped a jab more. Martinez slipped skillfully, but LTP was really making him work. In the seventh, fatigue touched both men, as their accuracy suffered. In round eight, Williams dripped blood from his mouth. But he kept tossing. So did Martinez. He aimed a left to the body, and then let loose right hooks.
In the ninth, Martinez' movement was taking the round. Paul had trouble tracking him down, but then had more success late in the round. "This is the kind of fight your mother hopes you're never in," Jim Lampley said. "Make your dad proud, though, Jim," answered Max Kellerman.
In the 10th, Martinez perked up. His lefts stung the tall man, but not enough to make him stay away. Probably enough to take the round, however. In the 11th, Williams was the aggressor early. Martinez fell to his knees with a minute to go, but it was not a knockdown. He reached deep and flurried, and probably nabbed the session.
In the 12th, LTP ate a hard left. Martinez went down, a slip. Williams scored with both hands to the head. Both guys clinched several times, and were deserved of 24 hours of sleep. We'd go to the cards.
In the TV opener, Cris Arreola looked to get back on track after getting schooled two months ago by Vitali Klitschko. He met Brian Minto, and rocked the smaller man around the ring with clubbing rights in the first. Cris (263 pounds; from California; age 28) worked behind a jab, and then used that 47-pound weight differential smartly. He did eat a right cross at the end of the round, however. Minto (218 pounds; from Pennsylvania; age 34) showed a good beard, absorbing a counter left hook gracefully at the 1:30 mark. Minto had a slice over his right eye towards the end of the second, and his left eye puffed up as well. Both guys were headhunting through three. Cris sent Minto down in the fourth, with a clipping right. He got up, and looked to turn the tide. Arreola blasted him with about ten hard shots, and down went Minto again. He was up at nine, but looked blank and spent, and ref Eddie Cotton halted the scrap. Minto's face was disfigured, his left eye severely swollen, but he wanted to keep at it. Brave kid, earned his check big-time. Stat-wise, Arreola went 98-208, Minto 63-172.
Arreola (27-1) told Max Kellerman after that he took his hat off to Minto (34-3), who he called a "tough emeffer."
"I'm still a top ten heavyweight, if not a top five," Arreola said. He said he'd like to fight within three months. He sort of apologized for being heavy, saying that he likes to chow at night.
My take: great seeing Arreola back on the saddle a little more than two months after getting taken to the woodshed by Vitali. But it would've been even sweeter if he came in trimmer. I know, I know, he is what he is, he likes to eat, physiques don't make the fighter, etc etc. But he weighed 251 for Vitali, and vowed that he'd act more like a new age athlete, and not a competitive eater. You don't think trimming down, taking some inches off his waist would help his agility and stamina?
SPEEDBAG Lederman and Steward gave Williams the nod, Lampley and Merchant saw Martinez the win.
--Max ripped Benoist after, calling his card "disgraceful." Usually he's hesitant to name names, realizing that scoring is objective, he said, but after Malignaggi-Diaz and Funeka-Guzman, he said he had no choice.