By Robert Morales
Paul Williams did more than lose a big fight to Sergio Martinez last November at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City - he was knocked out in the second round of a middleweight title bout that was supposed to be hotly contested. But whereas some fighters who have suffered the same fate have had difficulty recovering from the psychological trauma of such a devastating setback, Williams claims that is not the
case with him.
"To be honest, that was out of my mind as soon as it happened," said Williams, who July 9 will get back in the ring for the first time since that loss when he takes on Erislandy Lara of Cuba in the junior middleweight main event at the scene of the crime - Boardwalk Hall.
"I got up, they checked me out. After that, somebody had a party as if I would have won. We still had the same party. Then I was down there at the casino tables as if nothing had happened."
This way of thinking is something that has been prevalent in the Williams camp for some time, said George Peterson, his manager/trainer.
"If you are going to accept winning, you have to accept losing," Peterson said. "Some people, they think it's a funeral. There is no need for that. You can always come back. The best have, and that is what we are looking at."
Williams (39-2, 27 KOs) has come back before to more than prove his worth. As a heavy favorite, he was stunningly defeated by Carlos Quintana via unanimous decision in February 2008. Williams, who lost his welterweight title in that one, regained it when he stopped Quintana in the first round four months later.
"Just like when I lost to Quintana, some had wrote me off and this and that," Williams said. "But I came back and showed them how good I can be. Like I've told everyone, I've only lost two fights and both were championship fights."
Still, there must be some pressure for Williams knowing that another loss could be almost a death sentence for his career. Especially if he were to lose to someone like Lara (15-0-1, 10 KOs), who is 28 but has only 16 pro bouts. Williams, speaking Wednesday via telephone, said that indeed there is pressure with every fight. But for him, it doesn't carry all that heavy a burden.
"I've got all my finances straight," said Williams, 29. "If I choose to give it all up, I would be happy with it because I have all my ducks in order."
This is fun, not worrisome, to Williams.
"All I gotta do is maintain my spirit and that's it," he said.
"It's the adrenaline that I've got, the competition. Whatever happens, we will put our best foot forward. If something happens and it doesn't go my way, oh well, nothing to cry about."
Not that Williams is apathetic about where his career goes from here. The former two-time welterweight champion and former interim junior middleweight champion would love nothing more than to get another crack at Martinez, with whom he is 1-1; he won a majority decision over Martinez in December 2009 at Boardwalk Hall.
"Most definitely," he said. "The fans want to see it. It's not like he was beating me up. I was winning the fight, putting on a good show. It was that one punch that changed the whole fight. He threw a punch out of desperation to try and keep me off him. And it landed on a perfect point. It wasn't like he claimed, that he set a punch up.
"I take my hat off to him. He landed it. He's the champion. Let's do it again."
As for squaring off with Lara, Williams didn't sound too concerned about the fellow southpaw.
"He's trying to get a name off me," Williams said. "It would be a big win over me, but I can't let that happen. If he really wants it, he's going to have to take it."
In Praise of Ortiz
When Marcos Maidana stopped Victor Ortiz in the sixth round of a brutal bout in June 2009 in Los Angeles, so many experts wrote about what they perceived to be a lack of heart by Ortiz, whose body language in that fateful round and post-fight comments contributed to that perception.
But when Ortiz took the welterweight title from Andre Berto in April via unanimous decision in a fight where both fighters tasted the canvas, he had more than redeemed himself.
Ortiz, just 24, is promoted by Golden Boy Promotions. Its CEO, Richard Schaefer, on Tuesday suggested that Ortiz's trek to the title is a classic example of what can be accomplished when a talented fighter is not given up on by his employer.
"I think it is these kinds of turnarounds which really show if somebody has what it takes to be a champion and a star," Schaefer said, alluding to Ortiz, who is being rewarded with a Sept. 17 fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr. "After losing to Maidana, we built him back up, put him in with the right opponents and continued to believe in him, which we have done with other fighters.
"Look what we did with (Marco Antonio) Barrera after he lost to (Manny) Pacquiao. Look what we did with (Shane) Mosley. Look what we did with Juan Manuel Marquez after he lost to Chris John in Indonesia. I think what we have shown as a company is that we are good at building the fighters back up and giving them the opportunities. With Victor, we continued to give him these opportunities."
After the loss to Maidana, Ortiz (29-2-2, 22 KOs) stopped Antonio Diaz and Hector Alatorre inside the distance. He then won a decision over Nate Campbell before knocking out Vivian Harris and then fighting Lamont Peterson to a majority draw. Even though Ortiz seemed to run out of gas against Peterson, Schaefer apparently knew Ortiz was ripe for a title shot and he got him one against Berto.
"When we approached him with the Berto fight, we really believed he was ready," Schaefer said. "Not too many people outside the company did. I think boxing people are too quick to judge. OK, you lost the fight. The question is, what are you going to make of it?"
Schaefer said that since Ortiz had a rough upbringing - which has been highly publicized - it was bound to help him deal with the tough times as an adult.
"I think that is exactly what he has done here with the Maidana fight," Schaefer said. "He really showed against Berto what he is all about. Not too many people gave him a chance against Berto. People ripped us, saying we were feeding him to the lions."
It turned out Ortiz was the lion.
"This is the ultimate redemption," said Rolando Arellano, Ortiz's manager. "It's not how you fall, it's how you get up."
Ortiz, who these days lives in Ventura, Calif., was in his home state of Kansas this week and could not be reached for comment.
As for Ortiz's Next Bout...
Mayweather has not fought for 13 1/2 months, or since he easily defeated Mosley via unanimous decision in May 2010, and will have been off 16 months when he squares off with Ortiz. But Mayweather had a 21-month layoff between stopping Ricky Hatton in 10 rounds in December 2007 and winning a wide decision over the aforementioned Marquez in September 2009. In other words, Mayweather is so talented he doesn't figure to show much ring rust when he tangles with Ortiz.
But Schaefer warned anyone who might think Ortiz is in over his head against Mayweather, especially since Ortiz has demonstrated the ability and the wherewithal to overcome obstacles.
"When you have that kind of track record inside and outside of the ring like Victor Ortiz does, then I think anyone who knows anything about, not just boxing, but life, they would be well-advised not to underestimate Victor Ortiz and not to underestimate his chances in this fight," Schaefer said.
Schaefer said he is working on securing the site for this fight.
"I'm trying to finalize the MGM Grand," Schaefer said of the Las Vegas venue.
Mayweather's past four fights - against Oscar De La Hoya, Hatton, Marquez and Mosley - have all been at MGM Grand.
Collazo Will Be Moved Quickly
When Golden Boy recently signed former welterweight world champion Luis Collazo to a promotional contract, the accord came with a plan to strike quickly.
"We want to maybe give him like a get-off-the-rust fight and if the fight presents itself, then he's ready and a serious contender in the 154-pound division," Schaefer said. "He is ready and willing to take on anyone.
"He is an excellent fighter and there is no doubt he will be world champion again. And I'm not talking about in a couple of years, I'm talking a couple of fights."
Collazo, 30, is from Brooklyn. He is 31-3 with 16 knockouts.
Collazo won the championship with a split-decision over Jose Antonio Rivera in April 2005, but lost it to Ricky Hatton in his second defense in May 2006. He is 5-2 since then, the losses coming to Mosley in February 2007 and Berto in January 2009.
De La Hoya Update
Schaefer on Tuesday said his boss, De La Hoya, remained in a California rehabilitation clinic, where he is reportedly being treated for substance abuse.
"I can't really talk to him because he is not on his phone," Schaefer said. "We email each other and he is really focused on the rehabilitation. He is telling me he is doing very well."
Just Waiting on Maidana
Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero has signed to fight Marcos Maidana in the junior welterweight main event Aug. 27 at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif. (on HBO). Schaefer said all he needs is for Maidana's side to complete its end of the deal.
"We have an agreement signed with Guerrero and we have written confirmation from Maidana, but I'm waiting to get Maidana's executed contract," said Schaefer, who said he expects the venue to sell out.
San Jose is just 33 miles from Gilroy, where Guerrero is from.
Charity Event for Fallen Amateur Boxer
Trainer Robert Garcia and two of his fighters - lightweight champion Brandon Rios and featherweight contender Mikey Garcia - on Saturday at noon will play host to a fundraiser designed to benefit the family of Gustavo Rodriquez, who last Friday was shot and killed after leaving the Robert Garcia Boxing Academy in Oxnard, Calif.
"Gustavo was one of my amateur fighters," said Robert Garcia, the older brother of Mikey Garcia. "He was just 17. He worked out at the gym last Friday and while walking home was shot and killed. It is a real tragedy and Brandon and my brother Mikey want to help the family."
Rios and Mikey Garcia will work out for fans.
"We will have a donation box at the gym," Robert Garcia said. "All of the money will go to the family. We are hoping all of the fans will come out and help. Brandon and Mikey will sign autographs, take pictures, anything that will help."
Rios will defend his title against Urbano Antillon on July 9 at Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. (on Showtime).