Sunday, December 6, 2009

Paul Williams: Who Punishes The Punisher?

“Look man, I'll fight 'em all. Anybody from '47 to '68 that wants to fight me, all they gotta' do is say the word and I'm there. If they want me in there, I'm all game." – Paul “The Punisher” Williams

The best fighter in the game. It’s a term thrown away around a lot these days, to people from all weight classes. The Klitschko’s, B-Hop, Pacquiao, Mosley, Money May…the list is ever changing. Being that 6'71/2'', 250 pound Klitschko versus 5'61/2'', 147 pound Pacquiao is crazy talk, we create this pound for pound index where size is redundant and speculation is the only logical framework. Always on the fringe of this list, but never in a big enough pay-per-view to showcase it, sits Paul Williams with 38 wins (27 by stoppage) and a solitary loss.

A 6’1’’ southpaw, The Punisher is a genetic anomaly and could well be a modern day incarnation of Thomas Hearns. His 82-inch reach is longer than the Klitschko’s and he throws more punches in a fight than a lightweight. Williams will also (literally due to his height) drop a left hand like Zeus drops lightning bolts. P-Will is a boxing nomad in that he is out to fight anyone from 147-168. Seriously. Isn’t that crazy? The real problem is that no one really wants it.

Berto? Don’t want it.
Mosley? Don’t want it.
Pacquiao? Don’t want it.
Pavlik at 160? Don’t want it. In fact, pulled out of a planned bout with Williams. TWICE.
Money May? Doesn’t want to fight full-grown adults. So DEFINITELY don’t want it.

Even Margarito won’t entertain a return. In fact, the story goes, when Margarito was due to face Daniel Santos, back in ’04 for a version of the 154 pound crown, he bought in Williams as a sparring partner. The Punisher beat Margarito so bad that he refused to spar with him again and Williams was sent home with full pay.

To get a better idea of the work-rate of someone who could probably get by just using his reach, let’s look at his recent history.

In mid-2007 Margarito actually dared to defend his WBO welterweight title against Williams. The Punisher threw an astonishing 1,256 punches over twelve rounds to take the title. That output ranks him second all-time for punches thrown by a welterweight.

Following his win over Margarito, The Punisher, somehow in a severe ‘wtf moment’, dropped a decision after being outboxed by Carlos Quintana. To give you an idea of what an aberration that was, here is the rematch. You only need to watch the first three minutes.

He then bounced up to middleweight to destroy the once defeated Andy Kolle in under a round then went back down to 154 to stop Verno Phillips in 8. Stopping Phillips, given that he had 9 losses on his ledger, doesn’t sound that impressive. However Phillips had only been stopped once before. In only his fifth pro contest. In 1988. Once again Williams was an absolute workhorse averaging 85.2 punches per round – far above the middleweight average of 56.5. That’s three knockouts in three different weight divisions.

In April this year, once AGAIN at 160, he shut out former undisputed 154 pound champ (and pending hall-of-famer) Winky Wright over twelve rounds throwing an incredible 90.5 punches per round. The 1,086 shots he threw that night ranks second all-time for punches thrown by a middleweight.

And then, just this last weekend, Williams waged an absolute war with WBC interim 154 pound champ Sergio Martinez, at 160, and came out with a majority decision throwing 631 power punches (of 979 total), to Martinez’s 638 total punches, in a ‘Fight of the Year’ candidate.

How much longer can the commercial upper echelon of the sport deny Williams a shot? For I can’t think of a more deserving candidate. Wins titles? Check. Willing to face tough opposition? Check. Aggressive fan pleasing style? Double check (then maybe check it a couple more times in the morning before you leave). Ultimately, Williams victories are pyrrhic in nature. His victories only lead to him being dodged by the big money opponents he craves....

....and that is what punishes The Punisher.