By Lem Satterfield
Three-time former world champion Paul Williams will return to Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, site of his most recent demise, when he meets unbeaten Cuban Erislandy Lara in a July 9 junior middleweight clash of southpaws.
The 29-year-old Williams (39-2, 27 KOs) and the 28-year-old Lara (15-0-1, 10 knockouts) will be face off where Williams lost November's battle of southpaws by second-round knockout to WBC emeritus middleweight champion Sergio Martinez (47-2-2, 26 KOs) in a rematch of Williams' December, 2010 majority decision victory during which he and Martinez were floored in the first round.
Lara is coming off of a March 25 majority draw with rugged, Mexican-born Carlos Molina (18-4-2, six KOs) of Chicago, who will take an unbeaten streak of 10-0-1 that includes two stoppages into a July 9 match up with former champion Kermit Cintron (32-3-1, 28 KOs).
On Friday, BoxingScene.com caught up to Williams, whose trainer, George Peterson, allowed the man nicknamed "The Punisher" to be interviewed during a break from training.
"They think that Paul has just about ran his course, and they think that the time is right to beat Paul. But if you listen, you can hear Paul hammering away at the speed bag right now," said Peterson.
"But that's what that's all about. We realize that they have high hopes for this young man," said Peterson. "I'm not going to say that the young man may not be all that they want him to be, but the timing is all wrong for him in this fight against Paul Williams."
Below is the Q&A with Williams:
BoxingScene.com: What were you in the middle of doing as we speak?
Paul Williams: I was hitting the speed bag, you know?
BoxingScene.com: What are your thoughts about Erislandy Lara?
PW: I've been looking at him and studying him. All that I know is that he's an up-and-coming kid, and they've got a lot of high hopes for him and stuff. I know that he's going to try to get in there and get a win over me, you know what I'm saying, and climb up that ladder. But I'm not ready to get knocked off of that ladder yet.
I've gotten knocked down, but I've gotten back up. I'm a world champion, you know? If he's going to knock me down, then he's got to beat me. I don't think that he ready for that. I don't think that he's ready for what I'm going to bring to him that night. He's not going to be able to walk through the storm and not get wet.
BoxingScene.com: What do you say to people who might consider that, at nearly 6-foot-3, you should box more or fight taller, using your height to your advantage?
PW: I'm going to go into the ring and use whatever style that I feel comfortable using when he and I are in there. Whatever style he brings into the ring, I'll adapt to it. That's how I'm going to fight him. I will adapt. I will go into the ring and I'll fight my fight, which is what I've always done in the past.
BoxingScene.com: Do you think that he believes that you are vulnerable and that maybe that's why Erislandy Lara and his camp took this fight?
PW: People always want to criticize me, even when I lost to Carlos Quintana. But you saw that I came back and knocked him out in the first round. They think, 'Hey, this is another left-handed guy,' and, 'Paul can't do this, and Paul can't do that.' But when I came back and beat Carlos Quintana, they all jumped back on the bandwagon.
I love that. I love that negative reaction that people have given me. People say, 'Aw, he's washed up,' or, 'Aw, his time is over,' and this and that. That just motivates me even more. Because once we get in there, the only ones who are going to be in there are me and that dude, Lara, and he's going to have to prove himself. But he won't be able to do that.
BoxingScene.com: How badly do you want a rematch with Sergio Martinez?
PW: Aw, come on, man? That's like asking a kid when you walk into a candy store, 'Do you want something?' You know what he's going to say. He's going to say, 'Yeah.' I just have to take care of this little business on July 9, and then we can see what's up with me and Sergio Martinez, because you know that I would love to get that again.
But right now, I'm focused on Lara. I've been training for about a couple of months, three or four months or longer. I've just lost count.