By Chris LaBate
Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City - Paul Williams (40-2, 27 KOs), who returned for the first time since the crushing knockout loss to Sergio Martinez, won a terrible twelve round majority decision over previously undefeated Erislandy Lara (16-1-1, 10 KOs). The scores were 114-114 for a draw, 115-114 and 116-114 for Williams. The crowd, and even Williams' corner, believed Lara was winning the fight. Lara appeared to be the clear winner to most ringside observers, and HBO had Lara as the clear winner on their unofficial scorecards.
As he promised, Lara started throwing big punches to test the chin of Williams. Lara continued to control the action in the second and third, as Williams started very slow. But in the fourth, William started picking up the pace and began to outwork the inexperienced Lara.
Lara appeared to be getting tired in the fifth as Williams started coming on and began to throw his usual high volume of punches. Lara was being very selective with his punches but he continued to land the same left hand. The sixth round was more or less an exact copy of the previous stanza.
In the seventh round, Williams was working harder, but Lara continued to land hard left hands and started landing his right hand. By the final thirty seconds, Lara started to rally with hard punches to Williams' chin. Lara was dipping and slipping Williams' punches in the eight, and continued to counter with hard punches.
Williams was doing good work at the start of the ninth, but Lara started to rally once again with hard left hands that couldn't miss the mark. Williams was starting to get worn down from the punches and his knees were starting to buckle.
In the tenth, both boxers appeared to be a little tired. Williams was wide open, which allowed Lara to land his punches. Lara was fighting very smart. He tied Williams up at close range, and then stepped back to land power punches from a distance.
Lara started taking the fight to Williams in the eleventh, landing hard shots to shake Williams' legs and pushing him back. Williams' face was swollen and bloody from cut sustained from an earlier clash of heads.
In the twelfth and final round, the crowd started chanting for Williams, but it was Lara who continued to land big punches and circled to get away from Williams' counters.