Will Paul Williams get “PUNISHED” at Middleweight?

Paul WilliamsBy P.H. Burbridge (A voice in the crowd) - Paul “The Punisher” Williams (34-1, 25 KO’s) is scheduled to meet Andy Kolle (17-1, 12 KO’s) of Fergus Falls, Minnesota tonight in a middleweight match that few believe will be much of a fight. Why Kolle? Because Kolle represents little to no risk AND on paper he certainly looks the part.

He has only three recognizable names on his resume, Andre Ward, who he lost to in April of 2006, Matt Vanda, a fellow Minnesotan who Kolle beat via an 8 round unanimous decision in November of 2007 and Jonathan Reid who Kolle beat back in June of this year via a 10 round unanimous decision. Back in 2000, Reid fought William Joppy for the WBA middleweight Championship of the world. He lost via a 4th round TKO. Reid has lost 9 of his last 10 fights! Williams and Kolle are clearly on opposite ends of the fistic spectrum.

For Williams this fight’s an opportunity to collect more highlight footage while flirting with a heavier weight division. For Andy Kolle, this is simply the BIGGEST fight of his life.

In my opinion, the real intrigue here is not Williams fighting Kolle its Williams decision to skip an entire weight division! Sure others have done it. Michael Moorer and Shane Mosley are a couple fighters of the modern era who successfully made the jump. But, it’s certainly NOT the norm. Is Paul Williams really that caliber of fighter? At this point, many would say NO! That fact that Antonio Margarito is side stepping him doesn’t necessarily translate to automatic status as “the man”. Don’t get me wrong, I do admire his tenacity and confidence but unless you’re a very special fighter which Williams is not then I think a more traditional approach to moving up in weight is required. There’s a reason fighters move up in traditional ascending weight order. It affords the opportunity to acclimate to fighting opponents with greater degrees of strength. You gradually work your way up. It’s safer AND smarter. Any other way is not recommended unless you’re a virtuoso of the highest order like a prime Roy Jones Jr. Williams does not qualify by that standard.

There’s nothing on his record outside of the Margarito and Quintana wins that could be considered anything more then mildly impressive. Certainly nothing that would justify or imply that a move to middleweight is plausible. If you mute all the hype and just focus on Williams’ record then you’ll see the reality. For all the adulation he has received since beating Antonio Margarito it’s interesting that there are only three recognizable name fighters on his entire record. They are Antonio Margarito, Carlos Quintana and Sharmba Mitchell. With the exception of Margarito and Quintana there are NO world beaters found on the list. Some have argued that Quintana was an ordinary fighter even after his upset win over Williams. Prior to his encounter with Miguel Cotto (Carlos retired after round 5) Quintana made his name from a surprising victory over the highly regarded (and at that time unbeaten) prospect, Joel Julio. Sharmba Mitchell simply doesn’t qualify as a world beater because he was way past his prime and his best days were at 140 lbs. (Not to mention the tremendous size disparity.) The other fighters on Williams’ record since 2005 are downright mediocre. That’s clearly evident when you examine their records since the Williams fight. There might be a couple guys who qualify as “C” class fighters. But, NOT in my book!

Date Opponent W - L - D Current Record
2008-06-07 Carlos Quintana 25-1-0 25-2-0 Win
2008-02-09 Carlos Quintana 24-1-0 25-2-0 Loss
2007-07-14 Antonio Margarito 34-4-0 37-5-0 Win
2006-11-04 Santos Pakau 27-3-1 27-6-1 Win
2006-08-19 Sharmba Mitchell 57-5-0 57-6-0 Win
2006-05-27 Walter Dario Matthysse 25-0-0 26-4-0 Win
2006-04-12 Sergio Rios 18-2-0 18-9-0 Win
2005-12-02 Alfonso Sanchez 20-3-1 20-6-1 Win
2005-09-30 Marteze Logan 20-18-2 26-34-2 Win
2005-04-22 Terrance Cauthen 26-2-0 33-4-0 Win

Williams’ began his career with thirteen fights competing between the Jr middle and middleweight divisions. This is a relevant point in terms of the logic that he and his team are using to justify a move up in weight. So, yes…He has fought at a higher weight. That’s true but the caliber of opponent from then till now is not comparable. Young prospects are almost always matched against trial horses. That’s how it works in the pro game and of course Williams was no different. One quick review of each opponent’s record at the time of the encounter as well as after supports the “trail horse” statement.

Date Opponent W - L - D Current Record
2001-09-29 Willie McDonald 13-26-1 13-31-1 Win
2001-08-25 Robert Muhammad 7-21-1 8-36-1 Win
2001-07-03 Rhon Roberts 8-1-0 9-6-0 Win
2001-03-31 Miguel Aquila 4-17-0 rematch Win
2001-01-27 Henry Hawkins 3-11-1 3-12-1 Win
2000-12-14 Miguel Aquila 4-16-0 12-40-2 Win
2000-12-09 Rohan Nanton 1-9-0 7-23-1 Win
2000-10-28 Eleser Ortega 0-0-0 4-2-0 Win
2000-10-19 James Young 5-4-0 8-13-0 Win
2000-09-30 Adrian McNeil 0-4-0 2-5-1 Win
2000-08-18 Richard Burns 0-1-0 1-4-0 Win
2000-08-01 Matt Hill 3-6-1 8-31-2 Win
2000-07-21 Jeremy Mickelson 0-1-0 5-11-0 Win

If Williams moves forward with his publicly stated plans to compete in the middleweight and super middleweight divisions without first working his way up through the Jr middleweight division then it will be a huge miscalculation! There are MANY fighters at 154 who could give Williams a serious run and not only test his chin but also his will. I honestly hope a championship at 154 is in the cards. Judging from the fact that Williams has recently called Kelly Pavlik out in the press it sure doesn’t sound like it. Now, is not the time to be overly optimistic. Paul Williams is a very talented fighter but history tells us that he completely lost focus in the first fight with Quintana and IF Margarito had gotten started a little earlier in their bout the outcome would likely have been different. There’s no question that Margarito underestimated Williams. He foolishly had his focus on the Miguel Cotto fight and looked past Williams. That was a TERRIBLE miscalculation on Margarito’s part and one that surely could not happen again. He NOW knows that Williams can fight and his full commitment will be required in order to beat him.

Margarito is NOT avoiding Williams because he’s fearful of anything he’s capable of in the ring. It’s all business. Margarito is STILL hoping to get a deal done for a fight with Oscar De La Hoya. Frankly, all the talk from Dan Goosen regarding an offer of 4 million dollars that was turned down by Margarito has to be put into its proper context. Now, that De La Hoya is no longer using the term “retirement” Margarito has every intention of positioning himself so that he’ll be available to make that fight. Margarito is banking on one MORE public outcry for the De La Hoya match to be made and is waiting for Oscar to complete his “transaction” with Manny. And, chances are the public outcry will be there! Once Oscar is done beating up on another smaller fighter the fan demand for a De La Hoya vs Margarito will intensify. You can almost hear it now, “Fight SOMEONE your OWN size, OSCAR! FIGHT MARGARITO!” This is what The Tijuana Tornado and his team are hoping for and obviously that fight would pay four, maybe five times more then a rematch with Williams! They must make sure there are no scheduling conflicts in and around Cinco De Mayo of 2009. I believe Oscar and his people are still on the fence about this match up but Maragrito would be a fool to schedule himself out of the conversation. He’s just positioning himself should De La Hoya get the urge and attempt to silence his critics. There’s no guarantee there! For Williams, this is the UGLY side of the boxing business. And when it happens somebody always gets screwed. So, that’s the real story. Nobody is afraid of anybody else and forget about this “most feared” nonsense. Not the case.

As far as competing at middleweight, Williams is due for a reality check.

He may indeed be sparring comfortably with fighters all the way up to light heavyweight but fighting world class guy’s who “live” in the division is quite a different proposition all together. His short championship run has been at welterweight and up until now he’s experienced a much lesser degree of punching power. No matter how many 160 lb plus guys he’s slapped around in the gym nothing will tell how he’ll react to a real “world class” middleweight punch. Maybe he can, maybe he can’t! One thing is certain, a world champion who’s moving up in weight will not be allowed to fight average fighters for too long. The fight public will spot you one fight (Andy Kolle) but after that you’ve got to face a real name middleweight with a reputation for winning especially since you’re calling out the champ.

I hope Williams doesn’t think he can secure a match with Pavlik right out of the gate without fighting one legitimate world class contender. If Goosen can make that happen then more power to him! But if he does then I REALLY DON’T LIKE WILLIAMS’ CHANCES!

I hope Williams doesn’t slide right into a match with Kelly Pavlik. He better think again about that one! Perhaps a little research should be done first. Go speak to Edison Miranda or Jose Luis Zertuche and ask those guys if they think Pavlik can punch! Sure, he looks beatable from the outside looking in BUT the reality is much different. Pavlik has emerged as a patient and calculated assassin who quietly walks his guy down while doing massive amounts of damage. Not to mention that he’s a light heavyweight masquerading as the middleweight champ! Fighters do it all the time. Oscar De La Hoya in the beginning of his career fought at 130 lbs. You knew he was too big for that division. So, although Williams himself may in fact be a middleweight masquerading as the welterweight champ he’s still going to be outsized by Pavlik as well as most of the other elite middleweights. That’s the way it works. You tighten up and go down as far as you possibly can. This way YOU have the strength advantage over your “smaller” opponents.

I’m sure Williams KNOW's all about that!

BUT, Williams CAN become an accomplished middleweight fighter if he transitions properly and takes the traditional approach. I’ve not heard or read any reports that he has struggled to maintain his welterweight physique. Obviously, at 6’ 1” it’s possible that Williams and his team have privately struggled with the 147 lb weight limit but that certainly doesn’t explain why he wouldn’t move in to the 154 lb division.

There are good fights for him there. Paul Williams vs Vernon Forrest would be a very appealing championship fight and there are a number of contenders such as Joel Julio, Sergio Mora, Alfred Angulo, James Kirkland, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr and Ronald Hearns who could generate quite a bit of interest. What about Daniel Santos? He also beat Antonio Margarito. If Williams could beat Santos then he might be able to position himself for a championship fight with Margarito at Jr middleweight. Who knows maybe he can get a grass roots campaign going. But, if he can’t get Margarito in the ring then clean up the division and move up. When you’re done you will be better prepared to succeed at middleweight.

As far as Tonight’s fight with Andy Kolle is concerned, I fully expect Williams to come through without much difficulty. Certainly, stranger things have happened but this IS a safe fight. Williams understanding the stakes and won’t be caught with a false sense of security like against Quintana. The fight will be interesting to see but the real interest will be in how Williams and his team proceed after the fight.

If Team Williams decides to campaign at Jr middleweight as prescribed then I’m confident he will win another world title.

If he doesn’t and they campaign at middleweight ignoring all the cautionary tales available for examination throughout the history of our sport then one word comes to mind!


Article posted on 25.09.2008

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