“The Weigh In” Paul Williams: a future all time great?

Paul Williams15.04.09 - By Michael Klimes: How often do you see a fighter and feel like rushing to the telephone and calling up your mother to tell her the wonderful news even though you know your discovery will fall on deaf ears? I had that experience the past weekend as I saw Paul Williams outpoint Winky Wright in a victory that might come to be seen as one of his definitive performances although everyone will be glad to know I did not call my mother.

During the course of the fight, I am sure that I started to share a common feeling with those fans twenty four years ago that witnessed Mike Tyson’s exceptional punching power and were mesmerised by it. Williams did not exhibit concussive power but he did reveal an exceptional punch-rate, even by his standards, which would give the computers that measure his punch output migraines if they could contract them.. Furthermore, Albert Einstein or Isaac Newton would be perplexed if they sat at ringside and attempted to solve the equation of William’s remarkable height and reach in contrast to his adept footwork and ability to punch from a perplexing variety of angles. How can a boxer be so big but so agile?

This, however, is only a tepid recount of Williams’s brilliance as he used a fluid and accurate jab to strafe Wright’s guard and head with an alarming persistence. I was astounded that Wright’s usually airtight guard did not prevent punches from making their mark. Williams’s straight left hand was also potent as were his body blows and in fighting. He demonstrated a robust compactness that Joe Louis’s would have been proud of. Although Wright was beaten comprehensively, he was valiant in his effort and gracious in defeat. For a thirty-seven year old fighter who had not fought in two years he did well to go the full twelve rounds.

Needless to say the spotlight is on Williams. When one acknowledges that Williams is twenty seven years of age, has the experience of thirty eight fights, has won world titles at two different weights, has moved between welterweight and middleweight without difficulty, has become a bit of a veteran by defeating Carlos Quintana, Antonio Margarito, Verno Phillips and Winky Wright in impressive fashion, either threw boxing skill or power, is able to sit on his punches a little more than a few years ago, is an extremely dedicated professional and is a passionate student of the sport he appears to be the real deal. Williams has now established his own identity and has a multitude of choices of who he could fight. There are two corridors he can walk down. He could keep on jumping between weights and fighting the best fighters in these divisions or he could focus on a particular weight class. I feel that Williams will probably focus on the middleweights as his body will thicken as he approaches thirty years of age. In the future, I can see Williams fighting at the super middleweight limit or among light heavyweights where Kessler, Johnson, Hopkins and Dawson are.

The only question that will plague Williams as he moves up in weight will be the one that followed Tommy Hearns: will he be able to take the punch of a heavy handed opponent? Kelly Pavlik and Arthur Abraham can both hit; Pavlik is a cumulative puncher and Abraham has inscrutable power delivered very economically that also pays dutiful homage to Joe Louis’s maxim of not wasting energy. Any confrontation between Williams and Abraham or Pavlik could be exhilarating.

A heavyweight that was on good form was Chris Arreola who successfully stopped Jameel McCline in four rounds. Arreola shone as he demonstrated a polished prowess in his body punching and movement. He even slipped some decent jabs from McCline and it is refreshing to see to see a heavyweight across the Atlantic that is pulling off the aggressive, heavy handed, in your face style of fighting that was epitomised by the likes of Jack Dempsey, Rocky Marciano, Joe Frazier and Mike Tyson. If given enough time, Arreola might be able to slot himself into the position of an heir apparent.

Moving away from the weekend’s fights to other news, I am slightly unhappy that Amir Khan is going to fight against Andriy Kotelnik for the WBA light welterweight title in June when he should have a rematch with Breidis Prescott or fight Victor Ortiz. Khan is clearly a talented fighter with an excellent jab, movement and personality but the victory against Marco Antonio Barrera is inflated due to the cut Barrera received. Khan is not a contender just yet and he should confront another young gun. Similarly, the shrewd Frank Warren has matched Khan with a fighter who is not a big puncher.

Still, the outstanding fighter of the moment is Paul Williams who deserves to be recognised as one of the best fighters in the world. Ironically, our perception of Williams’s career could be at its zenith as we imagine everything he might do and not the things he will do. Whatever transpires, I hope boxing has a superstar in the making and that Williams can be an important face of the sport during next decade.

Article posted on 15.04.2009

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