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Will Paul Williams' Career Go The Way Of Donald Curry or John Ruiz?

Frank Lotierzo

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Will Paul WilliamsRecently reports have surfaced on Ring Magazine's web-site and on-line newspaper sites that former welterweight/middleweight title holder Paul Williams 39-2 (27) is possibly looking to return to the ring in late April. It's been a little over three months since Williams fought Sergio Martinez 46-2-2 (25) and was knocked out with one punch in the second round and lost his WBC middleweight title.

The fact that Williams is anxious to get back in the ring and face a live opponent as his management suggests,  is a good sign. The only speculation seems to be at what weight Williams will fight. Apparently he can still make the welterweight limit and that's where the two biggest names in boxing, Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather,  currently campaign. No doubt a fight with Pacquiao is much more realistic than one with Mayweather is, provided Williams doesn't encounter any setbacks in his next few bouts.

Right now the biggest obstacle in front of Williams, 29, is shaking off the psychological effects of the sudden and crushing knock out he suffered at the hands of Martinez. And regardless of what Paul says, he's asking himself questions he's never had to before after a fight. One of the hardest things for an upper-tier world class fighter to shed is a crippling knockout defeat, especially the first time it happens. And before getting to that, let's be clear about one thing, it was a lottery punch landed by Martinez that put Williams away. Martinez threw the knockout punch as blindly as Paul caught it. It wasn't an intentional, well timed punch. He was looking away when he threw it. But the fight wasn't going Paul's way at all. In fact, both fighters looked reckless and sloppy, and both of them leave their heads hanging out to be nailed. 

As to how much the knockout loss will effect Williams in his future fights is something that not even he'll know until he fights again. Former undisputed welterweight champ Donald Curry was one of the top three pound-for-pound fighters in boxing back in 1986. Curry was an even more complete and dangerous fighter than Williams when he was stopped in the sixth round by the undefeated Lloyd Honeyghan and lost his undisputed welterweight title. Unfortunately for Curry, his career was never the same and he was stopped by almost every upper-tier fighter he faced after he was stopped by Honeyghan. In Curry's case, it became clear that he wasn't blessed with an all-world chin and once he lost his confidence on top of that, he fought with trepidation and doubt in his subsequent bouts and fought mostly in the role as a trial horse for the rest of his career. So that's one direction that Williams' career post Martinez can take.

The other direction Williams' career could go is the way in which Tommy Morrison and John Ruiz's careers went after suffering two of the most devastating knockout losses in boxing history. Morrison was destroying Ray Mercer in their WBO heavyweight title bout until he got caught and was brutally pounded along the ropes before referee Tony Perez stopped the fight. And who can forget the way the undefeated wrecking machine named David Tua blitzed future heavyweight title holder John Ruiz in 19 seconds of the first round? Ruiz was on the canvas and out without ever throwing a punch.

If ever two fighters showed more character than Morrison and Ruiz after suffering a devastating knockout defeat, I don't know their names. Both Morrison and Ruiz came right back and never once fought glove shy during any of their bouts. As it turned out, Morrison was stopped in later bouts, but that was more a case of his physical limitations and durability, not character or heart. In Ruiz's case, John fought 17 years after being demolished by Tua and wasn't stopped again until his last fight at age 38 against the hard punching David Haye. Ruiz will never be thought of as being a great fighter, but he possessed every bit the heart and character as past greats named Muhammad Ali and Marvin Hagler.

Paul Williams will be struggling within himself, especially in his next few fights, to try and convince himself that what happened against Sergio Martinez was a fluke and won't happen again. Prior to his rematch with Martinez, Williams was a go-for-broke fighter and was willing to take as good as he gave. That's just who he was. It remains to be seen if that's who he still is.

No one knows what the residue will be for Paul Williams mentally and psychologically the next time he gets into a firefight. It'll be very interesting to see if he fights measured and only looks to cut loose when he feels it's safe from this point on. It may take a fight or two for him to gain his confidence back. But one thing's for sure, it's not a given that he'll ever be the same fighter he was before he was knocked out by Sergio Martinez. My guess is he'll still be the same fighter he was, but that remains to be seen. And if he is, he's a rare breed.

I'm still not sure that even the most sophisticated boxing aficionados fully understand how hard and rare it is for fighters to come right back after suffering the type of knockout defeat Paul Williams suffered. The best example I can give is to equate it to stepping off the curb and being slammed by a car. How long would it take you to confidently cross a heavily trafficked street again? 


Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com

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2015 Fight of the Year – Francisco Vargas vs Takashi Miura

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The WBC World Super Featherweight title bout between Francisco Vargas and Takashi Miura came on one of the biggest boxing stages of 2015, as the bout served as the HBO pay-per-view’s co-main event on November 21st, in support of Miguel Cotto vs Saul Alvarez.

Miura entered the fight with a (29-2-2) record and he was making the fifth defense of his world title, while Vargas entered the fight with an undefeated mark of (22-0-1) in what was his first world title fight. Both men had a reputation for all-out fighting, with Miura especially earning high praise for his title defense in Mexico where he defeated Sergio Thompson in a fiercely contested battle.

The fight started out hotly contested, and the intensity never let up. Vargas seemed to win the first two rounds, but by the fourth round, Miura seemed to pull ahead, scoring a knock-down and fighting with a lot of confidence. After brawling the first four rounds, Miura appeared to settle into a more technical approach. Rounds 5 and 6 saw the pendulum swing back towards Vargas, as he withstood Miura’s rush to open the fifth round and the sixth round saw both men exchanging hard punches.

The big swinging continued, and though Vargas likely edged Miura in rounds 5 and 6, Vargas’ face was cut in at least two spots and Miura started to assert himself again in rounds 7 and 8. Miura was beginning to grow in confidence while it appeared that Vargas was beginning to slow down, and Miura appeared to hurt Vargas at the end of the 8th round.

Vargas turned the tide again at the start of the ninth round, scoring a knock down with an uppercut and a straight right hand that took Miura’s legs and sent him to the canvas. Purely on instinct, Miura got back up and continued to fight, but Vargas was landing frequently and with force. Referee Tony Weeks stepped in to stop the fight at the halfway point of round 9 as Miura was sustaining a barrage of punches.

Miura still had a minute and a half to survive if he was going to get out of the round, and it was clear that he was not going to stop fighting.

A back and forth battle of wills between two world championship level fighters, Takashi Miura versus “El Bandido” Vargas wins the 2015 Fight of the Year.

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Jan 9 in Germany – Feigenbutz and De Carolis To Settle Score

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This coming Saturday, January 9th, the stage is set at the Baden Arena in Offenburg, Germany for a re-match between Vincent Feigenbutz and Giovanni De Carolis. The highly anticipated re-match is set to air on SAT.1 in Germany, and Feigenbutz will once again be defending his GBU and interim WBA World titles at Super Middleweight.

The first meeting between the two was less than three months ago, on October 17th and that meeting saw Feigenbutz controversially edge De Carolis on the judge’s cards by scores of (115-113, 114-113 and 115-113). De Carolis scored a flash knock down in the opening round, and he appeared to outbox Feigenbutz in the early going, but the 20 year old German champion came on in the later rounds.

The first bout is described as one of the most crowd-pleasing bouts of the year in Germany, and De Carolis and many observers felt that the Italian had done enough to win.

De Carolis told German language website RAN.DE that he was more prepared for the re-match, and that due to the arrogance Feigenbutz displayed in the aftermath of the first fight, he was confident that he had won over some of the audience. Though De Carolis fell short of predicting victory, he promised a re-vamped strategy tailored to what he has learned about Feigenbutz, whom he termed immature and inexperienced.

The stage is set for Feigenbutz vs De Carolis 2, this Saturday January 9th in Offenburg, Germany. If you can get to the live event do it, if not you have SAT.1 in Germany airing the fights, and The Boxing Channel right back here for full results.

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2015 Knock Out of the Year – Saul Alvarez KO’s James Kirkland

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On May 9th of 2015, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez delivered a resonant knock-out of James Kirkland on HBO that wins the 2015 KO of the Year.

The knock-out itself came in the third round, after slightly more than two minutes of action. The end came when Alvarez delivered a single, big right hand that caught Kirkland on the jaw and left him flat on his back after spinning to the canvas.Alvarez was clearly the big star heading into the fight. The fight was telecast by HBO for free just one week after the controversial and disappointing Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao fight, and Alvarez was under pressure to deliver the type of finish that people were going to talk about. Kirkland was happy to oblige Alvarez, taking it right to Alvarez from the start. Kirkland’s aggression saw him appear to land blows that troubled the young Mexican in the early going. Alvarez played good defense, and he floored Kirkland in the first round, displaying his power and his technique in knocking down an aggressive opponent.

However, Kirkland kept coming at Alvarez and the fight entered the third round with both men working hard and the feeling that the fight would not go the distance. Kirkland continued to move forward, keeping “Canelo” against the ropes and scoring points with a barrage of punches while looking for an opening.

At around the two minute mark, Alvarez landed an uppercut that sent Kirkland to the canvas again. Kirkland got up, but it was clear that he did not have his legs under him. Kirkland was going to try to survive the round, but Alvarez had an opportunity to close out the fight. The question was would he take it?

Alvarez closed in on Kirkland, putting his opponent’s back to the ropes. Kirkland was hurt, but he was still dangerous, pawing with punches and loading up for one big shot.

But it was the big shot “Canelo” threw that ended the night. Kirkland never saw it coming, as he was loading up with a huge right hand of his own. The right Alvarez threw cracked Kirkland in the jaw, and his eyes went blank. His big right hand whizzed harmlessly over the head of a ducking Alvarez, providing the momentum for the spin that left Kirkland prone on the canvas.

Saul “Canelo” Alvarez went on to defeat Miguel Cotto in his second fight of 2015 and he is clearly one of boxing’s biggest stars heading into 2016. On May 9th Alvarez added another reel to his highlight film when he knocked out James Kirkland with the 2015 “Knock Out of the Year”.

Photo by naoki fukuda

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