LAS VEGAS-Youth came firing on all cylinders and experience needed oiling as both Paul Williams and Chris Arreola burst through their veteran opponents like yesterday’s newspaper at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on Saturday.
In a middleweight showdown pitting the defensive genius of Winky Wright, 37, against the long armed punching machine Williams, 27, the struggle that was predicted by most experts never transpired. Instead a whirlwind Williams who is known as the “Punisher” whooshed through Winky like a typhoon.
For over a decade Wright has confused and bedazzled opponents like Sugar Shane Mosley, Felix Trinidad, and Jermain Taylor, but against Williams it was he that was confused and bewildered.
“He was very tall and awkward with very long arms. He would throw a lot of punches and they were coming from all kinds of directions and I didn’t know how to dodge them,” said a bruised and battered looking Wright (51-5-1, 25 KOs). “My timing was off.”
It was the first time Wright had ever admitted defeat.
Before the match was made the nearly six-feet four Williams had a Mona Lisa smile that he just couldn’t hide, as if happy that his moment to show the world that he could fight on a par with a master fighter like Wright was finally coming true.
Williams pounded Wright with combination after combination and when it looked like it was Wright’s turn to fire, Williams would fire still more combinations that snapped the elder boxer’s head back on occasion.
But on this night neither fighter would score a knockdown.
“I would have loved to score a knockout and he would have loved to score a knockdown too,” said Williams (37-1, 27 KOs).
Even a knockdown would not have sufficed to make the fight any closer. It was Williams’s night.
“I thought he was winning the fight,” said Wright. “I couldn’t get my shots off.”
Even when Wright finally scored his own shots, that hint of a smile from Williams could be seen. Then would come the combinations.
In the final round both let loose with their best shots and then Wright backed off toward a corner. It was an unconscious submission by a great fighter unaccustomed to accepting defeat.
When the scores were read, most of the arena knew what the outcome would be. All three judges scored it unanimously for Williams 119-109 twice and 120-108.
Wright showed no sign of anger when the scores were read.
“I thought he was winning the fight,” Wright said. “I couldn’t get my shots off.”
Now Williams stands poised for greater things.
Another youngster broke through an invisible barrier when Chris Arreola became the first heavyweight to knock out Jameel McCline for the count.
Arreola exchanged bombs with Jameel “Big Time” McCline and his knockout sets up a possible showdown with WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko.
Riverside’s Arreola, the NABF heavyweight titleholder, entered the ring to face the more experienced and dangerous McCline (39-10-3, 23 KOs) at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino and survived some big shots to emerge a potential contender.
“He was tough,” said Arreola (27-0, 24 KOs) who was buckled at least once by the big punching McCline. “I took my time.”
Looking at a massive target, Arreola immediately zeroed in to the body with rights and lefts in the opening round. McCline was content to block and hold as Arreola sparked the action in the first round.
The second round opened with Arreola attacking the body again. But in this round McCline began to find openings and countered with some heavy right hands. Every time McCline landed, Arreola reacted with some big blows of his own.
“He came ready to fight,” said Arreola, whose promoter Goossen-Tutor had attempted to match McCline with the Riverside fighter but was passed over to fight Samuel Peter instead. Peter was dropped three times in that fight but won by decision.
In the third round McCline staggered Arreola with a left hook but Arreola calmly backed away and jumped back in to exchange big sounding bombs with the bigger heavyweight. Though Arreola snapped McCline’s head back with a sizzling uppercut, two of the three judges gave the round to the New York-born fighter.
McCline entered the fourth round with his mouth wide open and looked ready to find out if Arreola could survive a firefight. A left uppercut and right hand staggered the bigger fighter and one more right hand dropped him for the count of 10 by referee Tony Weeks.
“He beat me,” said McCline with little emotion. “He’s a young, strong kid.”
Arreola jumped to the top of the ropes to celebrate the big victory that could lead to a world title opportunity with Klitshcko.
Tom Loefler, spokesman for K2 that promote both Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko, said before the fight a win by Arreola could set up a showdown at the Staples Center in July.
“I took good punches and I gave good punches,” Arreola said. “I have to beat the best to prove I’m the best.”
The American heavyweight division definitely has a new representative to test the European stranglehold on the heavyweight title belts.
“Whoever my promoter wants me to fight I’ll fight,” said Arreola.
Philadelphia’s Danny “Swift” Garcia (12-0, 7 KOs) used his quick hands to win by unanimous decision over Tijuana’s Humberto Tapia (14-10-1) in an eight round junior welterweight bout. All three judges gave it to Garcia 79-73 twice and 80-72.
East L.A.’s Shawn Estrada (4-0, 4 KOs) scored his fourth knockout in four pro fights in beating Omar Coffi (1-2-1) 47 seconds into the second round of a middleweight bout. It was the first time the former U.S. Olympian Estrada had ventured into the second round. Coffi was floored three times before his trainer asked referee Jay Nady to halt the contest.
New York City’s Jose “The Silver Boy” Rodriguez (12-1-1, 2 KOs) pulled out a majority decision against Las Vegas slugger Pablo Montes De Oca (9-16-2, 6 KOs) after 10 rounds. There were no knockdowns as southpaw Rodriguez used defense and counter punches to keep de Oca from landing the big blow. The judges scored it 95-95, 98-92 and 96-94 for Rodriguez.
Scotland’s Craig McEwan (14-0, 9 KOs), who provided Winky Wright with sparring, found Alexis Division (16-9, 13 KOs) of the Dominican much easier. It took only 1:49 for McEwan to stop Division with a body blow in a middleweight fight.
Bakersfield’s Mike Dallas Jr. (7-0-1) won a four round unanimous decision over Las Vegas boxer Terrance Jett (4-13-2) in a junior welterweight contest.
Juan Rodriguez (4-0, 2 KOs) of the Dominican Republic knocked out California’s Ramon Flores (3-5-1) 2:10 of the first round of a featherweight bout.
Rico Ramos (9-0, 5 KOs) of Pico Rivera, California won by unanimous decision over Laredo’s Gino Escamilla (5-5-1) in a six round junior featherweight fight.