The little guy, it looked to us, won the fight. The judges thought otherwise. Maybe their glasses were fogged? Follow Woods on Twitter https://twitter.com/#!/Woodsy1069
His trainer George Peterson had been mightily dismissive when the questions were posed to Paul Williams leading up to his main event scrap against Erislandy Lara which unfolded at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City on Saturday night. Are you what you were? Will there be a lasting effect from that vicious one-punch KO at the hands of Sergio Martinez last year?
Peterson did not, at least to the press, admit that there was any cause for alarm, or even cause for a query, along the lines of: did Martinez take something away from Long Tall Paul that he could not get back. It turns out there was cause to ask the questions, and it appears they were answered, to the detriment of Williams' career. Underdog Lara, undersized, looking like he was two weight classes lighter than Williams, hit LTP time and again with an overhand left, and used his feet to get angles while he whacked away at the bigger but diminished man. After twelve rounds, the main question in one's mind was: will Williams fight again? The outcome wasn't in doubt, not to me anyway... but the judges didn't agree. They gave Williams the edge, by scores of 114-114, from Al Bennett, 115-114-Hilton Whittaker II, and 116-114-Don Givens.
Remember, this is the theater of the unexpected, and much of the time, the unexpected comes via wacky scorecards. Lara had the edge in punches landed in the stat war, 178-383, but the judges liked the busier guy, Williams, who went 161-766.
After, Max Kellerman told LTP that Peterson told him he needed a KO to win late in the fight, and asked him to explain the decision. "That was motivation," the fighter said. Do you believe you won, he was asked. "Of course I believe I won," he said. LTP said he wants Martinez before he bows out. He said he was being "lazy" and that is why he was getting hit with the left hand. Lara told Max he knew he won, and he wants a rematch with LTP. The "loser" said he was able to land the left because he practiced the left with trainer Ronnie Shields. Kellerman said aloud he considers Lara the winner.
Williams (age 29; 153 1/2, 170 on fight night; 39-2 with 27 KOs entering; from Georgia; 6-2 ) lives in South Carolina, while Lara (from Cuba; age 28; 153 pounds, to 160 on fight night; 15-0-1 with 10 KOs entering; 5-9) resides in Florida.
In the first round of the HBO Boxing After Dark show, we saw Williams' heavy weight advantage. He looked a full head-plus taller than the Cuban. Lara tackled Williams, who fell on his butt 1:30 in. Lara found Williams with a straight left shortly after. Of the two lefties, it looked like Lara had the quicker hands early.
In the second, Williams started being first more. He imposed his size advantage, but Lara didn't shrink and hide. He knocked Williams back, with a jab follow, at the 1:20 mark. George Peterson, Williams' trainer, told him he needed to fire with some snap, and feint more, and move his head.
In the third, we saw Williams reach, and lunge quite often, same old song. Lara, meanwhile, used his feet wisely, to get out of range, and to get himself angles. His straight left worked several times. Plus, he'd grab Williams when he wanted to, to dampen Williams' attack.
In the fourth, Lara got a timeout after being hit low. LTP came forward more aggressively, and it looked like maybe the worm was turning.
In the fifth, we saw a nasty knot on Lara's face, from a head butt It was a baseball, on the left side of his forehead. But he stayed busy, even though he wasn't moving as much. Williams had a cut on his left eye, which dripped into his peeper, from the same butt.
In the sixth, Williams was trying to take the round with volume. He was busy, and it was easier to be busy, because Lara now stood in front of him for most of the frame.
In the seventh, the over the top left hand for Lara scored points, once again. Work to the body by Williams looked like it hurt but Lara didn't succumb. The worm was back in place.
In the eighth, we heard Roy Jones talk about how this sort of fight could affect Williams after he retires. No one noted the irony there...Lara got his feet working again, and while Williams had some luck to the body, he wasn't switching up his ways in order to shift the momentum.
In the ninth, we heard from Peterson. He said to Max Kellerman that LTP should be getting off first, that Lara was running away and didn't want to fight, said Paul should be taking away the left hand, and would need to see how he lost if he lost, before he'd counsel retirement. Lara's corner after the round told him he'd win the fight with his legs.
In the 10th, and the 11th, Jones worried that Williams was taking scary punishment, the sort that could leave him compromised. Blood streamed down from his left eye, and nose, and we wondered if Williams would get to his last planned fight, a tiebreaker with Sergio Martinez.
In the 12th, Lara boxed like a fox. LTP came forward, but without any spring in his step.
SPEEDBAG TSS's George Kimball, trainer Bouie Fisher and ex champ Billy Costello received an honorary ten count before the main event began.
---I chuckle...Kimball HATED HATED HATED the thought of covering events off TV, and desired heavily to be present at the arena. Me, I love the edge the DVR gives me, to rewind and see just what the heck landed, and to hear what was said in the ring after the fight. Plus, I like working in my underwear. But George would have been present in AC tonight, and man oh man, would he have ripped those judges a couple new holes.
---The body language was clear..Williams put up his hands half-heartedly after the fight. He didn't think he won.
--Roy Jones said after he felt bad for LTP. "I think you've seen the best of Paul Williams," Jones said, unless he gets another trainer. If Martinez was Lara, Jones said, LTP would be in the hospital.
--Kellerman wrapped it up by saying "this decision was indescribably bad" and "incompetent." Lara, he said, should be treated like he won. Williams' future, he said, is in serious jeopardy.