By Rick Reeno
As previously reported on BoxingScene.com, former world champion Paul "The Punisher" Williams (41-2, 27KOs) was involved in a serious motorcycle accident on Sunday morning near Atlanta. BoxingScene spoke to Williams' trainer/manager George Peterson, who confirms the tragic news that Williams is indeed paralyzed from the waist down. Williams was going to attend his brother's wedding on Sunday afternoon.
Williams, 30-years-old, is scheduled to have surgery on Wednesday. That surgery, says Peterson, will be to stabilize the healthy upper half of his spine by putting a protective wall around it. Last week, Williams' team reached an agreement to fight undefeated rising superstar Saul Alvarez for the WBC junior middleweight title on September 15th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
BoxingScene.com: How did the accident exactly happen?
Peterson: Paul was in Atlanta for a wedding that was going to take place [on Sunday] at 5 o'clock. His brother was getting married [on Sunday] at 5 o'clock. He got two brothers and sister that live there in Atlanta. Paul lives about 45 minutes outside of Atlanta, in a place called Grovetown, Georgia. So Paul got his bike and he went down to Atlanta. There was a bachelor party that took place before the wedding. That was the night before. So when he left the bachelor party, around 7 o'clock Sunday morning, he was on his way to one of his brother's houses, on his motorcycle.
He was going to into this curb with this car that had the inside lane, Paul had the outside lane. Apparently the guy who was in the car was on his cell phone or something, but he drifted off into Paul's lane. Paul actually moved over to keep himself from hitting this car that was coming into his lane. Paul looked up and had this oncoming car coming down the road already. Paul said that if he didn't go completely across the roadway, he would have hit that oncoming car head on. He went completely across the roadway to keep from hitting this car head on, went down the embankment and when he came up he was about 60 feet in the air. The motorcycle went one way and he went the other. He must have flew airborne in the air about 100 feet. And when he came down, he came down on his back. And when he came down on his back, it severed his spinal cord.
BoxingScene.com: The extent of the injuries were then determined.
Peterson: When that happened, of course, after having MRIs and X-rays, it was determined that he wouldn't be able to have any body movements from the waist down because he had detached 90% of his spinal cord. So that other 10% left is what controls his upper body movement, his arms and his neck. So now what happens is, they are going to have surgery when the swelling goes down on his back to protect and stabilize that part of what's left of his spinal cord.
BoxingScene.com: Are the doctors saying there is absolutely no chance that Paul will walk again?
Peterson: No chance. No chance.
BoxingScene.com: How is Paul's mind state as far as coming to the realization that will never able to walk again and his boxing career will be over?
Peterson: Paul told me after I left the hospital room today....he said 'Pete, that means I'm going to have to do standup comedy again.' He said 'Pete, don't believe none of that stuff, I'll be back.' I was there for about eight hours yesterday and today.
BoxingScene.com: What happened with the other driver?
Peterson: There was no contact with the car. The other driver actually called 911 an waited for the ambulance to come and the police.
BoxingScene.com: Was Paul conscious or did he wake up in the hospital?
Peterson: Paul was conscious the whole time.
BoxingScene.com: I assume Paul was wearing a helmet, because an accident like that would have killed someone.
Peterson: Absolutely, you should see that helmet. He had a custom made helmet built especially for him, with a mask that covers the whole chin, neck and everything. If he would have had a regular helmet, he would have never made it. You should have seen that helmet. [The accident] shattered that mask and cracked the helmet. It took some damage.
BoxingScene.com: You guys had that fight finalized with Canelo, and most people were giving Paul a very good shot to win.
Peterson: The upcoming fight was a blessing from God. That was the one that we needed. And this guy had the ideal style for us. This guy can box and Paul loves to box. The thing about it is, he's the type of guy who would have allowed Paul to fight for three minutes of every round. He likes to fight the last forty seconds of every round. Paul is going to give you that 100 punches and that 110 punches every round.
We really liked this matchup. We were surprised too when it was made. But we understand why it was made. I understand promoters and managers. You get to a point after a while where you have to let your racehorse run. You feed him the best oats and you let him run and its up to him. We loved this situation because we were going in with all the edges, the height edge, the volume edge, the southpaw edge and we sure enough had the boxing edge. We had all the bases covered and not only that - we would have showed these people that Paul was back. Although they tried to write him off, Paul was back and this was the one that we needed.