A rangy southpaw who stands at nearly 6-foot-3, Paul Williams has fought at welterweight, junior middleweight and middleweight, earning the nickname "The Punisher" for his reputation as a hard-slugging, high-volume puncher with a seemingly endless energy reserve who is willing to take on all comers.
"I don't know how many champions and ex-champions Paul Williams has fought, but it doesn't matter," said Williams' trainer, George Peterson. "This is a guy who has been fighting everybody that nobody else has wanted to fight. Paul Williams wants the top guys."
But as he eyes retirement, the 29-year-old Williams (39-2, 27 knockouts) said that he wants more fights although he does not feel as if he has much more to prove in the sport.
"When I retire, in about two years, they're going to say, 'He never ducked nobody,'" said Williams. "After two more fights, if HBO wants to do it and the fans want it, I'm up for it. But after three more fights -- though my trainer says two more -- I want to be done with boxing."
As a middleweight, Williams has split bouts opposite southpaw Argentinian former Sergio Martinez (47-2-2, 27 KOs), defeating Martinez by majority decision prior to Martinez's scoring a unanimous decision that dethroned then-WBC and WBO middleweight king, Kelly Pavlik.
In April of 2009, Williams also scored a one-sided decision over former junior middleweight world champion, Winky Wright, this, also while they were fighting as middleweights.
In July, 2007, at a time when he was considered the most feared welterweight, two-time world champion Antonio Margarito fought Williams, whose welterweight unanimous decision dethroned Margarito as WBO welterweight king.
Margarito had already knocked out Martinez in their welterweight match up in February of 2000, and, also also owns an 11th-round stoppage win over current WBA junior middleweight titlist Miguel Cotto.
Other big wins for Williams include knockouts of former world champs Sharmba Mitchell, and, Verno Phillips.
The one over Mitchell was in the fourth round in Aug. of 2006 while campaigning as a welterweight.
In November, 2008, Williams scored the eighth-round knockout Phillips for the WBO junior middleweight belt.
Phillips was coming off of a victory that dethroned Cory Spinks as IBF junior middleweight champ.
Although Williams suffered his lone defeat against southpaw, Carlos Quintana, in February, 2008, Williams regained his WBO championship, four months later, by stopping Quintana with 15 seconds left in the first round.
Williams has, nevertheless, faced questions concerning his vulnerability entering his July 9 clash of southpaws against undefeated Cuban native Erislandy Lara (15-0-1, 10KOs) at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, his first fight since November's second-round knockout loss in the rematch with Martinez.
"Paul has a win over everybody that he's fought. So Paul's gotten stopped in his last fight, and the media has nailed this guy to the cross. I'm going to say that the media has done it. So he can't wait, I can't wait until this is resolved," said Peterson of Williams, who relishes a third bout with Martinez.
"You know, every true champion gets to a point where they want to show their greatness. Paul has achieved everything that he can in boxing," said Peterson. "But this loss that happened gives him the opportunity to show his greatness. Paul Williams will be back on July 9."
The fact that Williams-Lara is returning to Boardwalk Hall has added some motivation for Williams, said his promoter, Dan Goossen.
"Look, Paul Williams has got some terrific fans in Atlantic City, so what better place than to go out there and to perform again. We all have our obstacles that we have to overcome," said Goossen.
"This is just another one, and this is what makes great champions," said Goossen. "And Paul Williams is a former three-time world champion. And I guarantee you that he'll be a four-time world champion quicker than you can snap your fingers."
"I've got a lot of love for Atlantic City, so I want to give my people that back. It doesn't matter where it was, it just so happened that it was Atlantic City," said Williams.
"But I don't care where it's at. But as long as it's back in Atlantic City, I feel good about it," said Williams. "They never give me the gimme fights. People say that I remind them of a throwback fighter, so that's what my legacy is going to be."