Winky Wright will beat Paul Williams

By Geoffrey Ciani: Paul Williams is the betting favorite in his upcoming bout with Winky Wright, and rightfully so. After all, it has been almost two full years since Winky last fought and he did not look particularly good in that fight. In contrast, Williams has fought four times since we last saw Winky, including knockout victories in each of his last three contests. It is typically wise for a fighter to take a tune-up after a long layoff, especially when entering a fight of this magnitude, but Winky apparently did not get the memo. Most members of the boxing community expect Winky to lose, and they are in for a big surprise on Saturday because Winky is going to win..

Far too much is being made of the long layoff. The way some fans are talking you would think nobody has ever had success in the ring following a long layoff. Some of these fans must be forgetting what Sugar Ray Leonard did after three years of inactivity when he made his middleweight debut in a triumphant effort against Marvelous Marvin Hagler. More recently, former heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko made a successful comeback bid when he defeated Sam Peter to regain the WBC strap after almost a four year layoff. These, of course, were sensational efforts made by exceptional fighters, but lest we forget, Winky was once widely recognized as one of the best in the sport.

Too much is also being made of Winky’s last effort inside the ring. Yes, he did look bad in that fight, but everyone looks bad against Bernard Hopkins. That is what Hopkins does best—he makes opponents look bad. In addition to that, Winky had no business fighting at 170 pounds and looked a bit too pudgy at that weight. Fortunately for Wright, he will be squaring off against Williams at his comfort zone of 160 pounds, which is much better suited for him. Williams, on the other hand, has had just one fight at that weight class and has never proven he can tango with the best the division has to offer whereas Winky has proven he can.

There is no shame in losing to Bernard Hopkins, and despite the cries of many this fight is in no way indicative of how Winky will perform against Williams. A lot of fans got into the bad habit of underrating both Bernard and Winky following that fight, but since then, Bernard has dropped a razor-thin decision against all-time great Joe Calzaghe and totally annihilated reigning middleweight king Kelly Pavlik. Clearly, Hopkins was not as shot as many made him out to be following the Winky fight, and Winky will soon prove that the same can be said of him, too. Regardless, the comparisons between Williams and Hopkins carry no merit because the two could not be any more different in terms of styles.

A commonly held misconception that is swaying many people in Williams’ favor stems from the perception on how to beat Winky. Many people are of the opinion that the way to beat Winky is by simply outworking him. This is incorrect. You do not beat Winky by merely outworking him, you beat him by roughing him up and disrupting his rhythm, as illustrated by Hopkins. Is the high work rate of Williams enough to disrupt Winky’s rhythm and throw him off his game plan? This is highly unlikely. Winky is a seasoned vet who knows what he is doing inside the squared circle, so it is going to take more than sheer volume to beat him. Williams likes to throw straight punches and keep opponents at the end of his lengthy jab, but such punches are tailor-made for Winky’s impregnable guard.

To get past Winky’s block, you need to rough him up on the inside and loop punches around his high guard. This is not Paul’s forte, as he is more apt to maintain his distance behind straight shots. If Paul tries to throw straight through Winky’s guard he will be in for a long night. Felix Trinidad and Jermain Taylor both tried employing this tactic. For Trinidad, this strategy failed miserably. Taylor, however, had mixed success. His volume punching did manage to slow Winky down at times, but remember, Taylor hits much harder than Williams and was the naturally bigger man. Even though Williams is taller and has a freakishly long reach, make no mistake, Winky is the bigger, stronger fighter, and it will show. Williams will soon learn what Shane Mosley learned before him—Winky hits harder than advertised.

While so much is being made of Winky’s efforts against Hopkins, very little is being made of Williams’ lackluster showing with Carlos Quintana. Fans have apparently forgiven Williams for that performance, and not without reason. After dropping a shocking upset decision against Quintana, Williams redeemed himself when he stopped Quintana in a single round four months later. For some, this was proof enough that Williams had an off night. I must be less forgiving than most fans, because despite the impressive first round knockout in the rematch, I am not at all sold that this was just an “off night” for Paul. Williams showed a lot of flaws that night, and if Quintana was able to exploit them just imagine what Winky is capable of doing.

Quintana managed to expertly tame Williams’ work rate by using basic counter punching techniques. Not only was Quintana successfully countering Williams at will, but he was also able to neutralize his offensive output in the process. At times, Quintana was even able to dominate the action. The end result was a frustrated Williams who was unsure of himself and did not have any answers to the simple defensive-countering mechanisms employed by Quintana. If a mediocre contender like Quintana was able to give Williams fits, Winky should have a field day with him. After all, few fighters in the sport are as defensively sound as Winky and even fewer are better when it comes to neutralizing an opponent’s strengths. Williams’ main asset is volume, and yet, that was easily tamed by Quintana. Even though Williams overwhelmed him with power in the rematch, he never did prove he could handle Quintana’s style, let alone a superior style like Winky’s, and unlike Quintana, Wright is not likely to fold from a Williams onslaught of punches.

Expect this bout to unfold in similar fashion to Wright’s fight with Jermain Taylor, at least in the early going. Winky will undoubtedly have a little ring rest and Williams will give him some difficulty early on with his work rate. When Winky begins finding his rhythm, however, expect him to take full control of the fight. Once Winky begins effectively countering Williams, there is a strong likelihood he will return to the shell of uncertainty we saw when he first faced Quintana. Winky’s southpaw stance will surely trouble Williams, and once Williams starts feeling the wrath of a good punching middleweight, I expect Winky to begin wearing him down both mentally and physically.

At the end of the day, Williams has never fought a fighter of Winky’s caliber. His best win to date was against the very good but very limited Antonio Margarito. Beating Margarito, while impressive, does nothing to help him against a truly elite talent like Winky Wright. Winky has fought and beaten better caliber fighters than Paul Williams, has withstood better punchers than Williams, and simply put, Winky is the much better and more complete fighter and I expect this to be on full display come Saturday.

I anticipate a unanimous decision for Winky with scores along the lines of 117-111, 116-112, 116-112, but a late stoppage in his favor would not surprise me in the least.

It’s almost Winky Time.

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Article posted on 09.04.2009

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