By Keith Idec
Paul Williams knows what his critics are saying about him.
They think that are suffering a devastating one-punch, second-round knockout defeat to Sergio Martinez and performing poorly against Erislandy Lara in back-to-back bouts that Williams’ days as an elite-level prizefighter are over. The former WBO welterweight and junior middleweight champion cannot wait to start trying to prove them wrong when he faces Japan’s Nobuhiro Ishida (24-6-2, 9 KOs) in a 12-round junior middleweight match Feb. 18 in Corpus Christi, Texas.
“I appreciate Showtime giving me the opportunity to get up on their network and to go out there and prove myself again,” Williams said. “To everybody that’s doubting me, I love that because that’s just more motivation. And come Feb. 18, I’m going to go out there and put on a helluva show for my fans. And people who are not my fans will have something to talk about and be like, ‘Yo, this kid is something to reckon with.’ ”
The 30-year-old Williams was a mainstay on pound-for-pound lists before Martinez knocked the tall southpaw unconscious nearly 15 months ago in Atlantic City. The Aiken, S.C., resident’s maligned majority decision win against Lara 7½ months later in Atlantic City also hurt Williams’ reputation because the consensus among fight fans and media was that Lara clearly won their 12-round fight.
“Of course I’m going to show my fans that I’m not done,” Williams said. “But they’re always going to write you off and stuff. Out of 40-something fights, I only lost two. … Of course people are always going to say you’re through and this and that. But the bottom line is as long as me and [trainer] Mr. [George] Peterson know we’re good, I feel real good and I’m going to go in there and perform.”
Dan Goossen, Williams’ promoter, also warned those that seem certain Williams won’t regain his status to not get ahead of themselves.
“Miguel Cotto has recently announced that he’s going to fight Floyd Mayweather,” Goossen said. “I can remember sometime early last year where everyone was kind of saying Cotto was through. And it was amazing, because I’m sitting there, and this was before [Cotto’s] fight in New York [against Antonio Margarito on Dec. 3], and they had virtually counted him out. And I said, ‘It’s really a shame. Two losses and in our sport, media, the experts all start saying a fighter’s through.’ Cotto, as we know, the two guys that he lost two is [Manny] Pacquiao and Margarito. Obviously, he showed something different, that he wasn’t through. And I got that same impression after the [Williams]-Lara fight.
“I heard announcers going into the broadcast, halfway through, and then in the corners saying, ‘Is Paul going to retire?’ But I didn’t see a fighter that was through with Lara or Martinez. I see a fighter that’s ready to go out there and prove himself [to] these naysayers that believe that he’s through. He’s a three-division fighter, like Cotto was. He’s got two losses, came back to avenge one of them. Actually, he beat Sergio the first time. But with [Carlos] Quintana he came back and avenged it, very similar to what Cotto did to Margarito. Since the Sharmba Mitchell fight, he’s fought fighters with a 92.3 percent average of wins, 325 wins and only 27 losses. Ten of those losses were [from] Verno Phillips. So the triple-threat show we have Feb. 18 is again to go out there and let Paul Williams show you again why he was the most feared fighter in the world and [why] we believe he is going to become the most feared fighter again in the world, when people see him again on Feb. 18.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com.