By Jake Donovan
A high-profile southpaw is in the rebuilding stage. He’s at the door step of title contention but still needs to show that he has enough left to rally the detractors back on his side. Along the way, he turns to a Japanese middleweight, of the belief that it’s a credible enough yet safe choice for the next step.
You’ll have to pardon Nobuhiro Ishida if he’s heard this one before. He was so familiar with the story that he jumped the moment the opportunity presented itself to face Paul Williams next weekend.
The bout marks Showtime’s first major broadcast of the 2012 season for its Showtime Championship Boxing series, airing live on February 18 from the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas
“I appreciate this opportunity very much,” said Ishida (24-6-2, 9KO) of the chance to fight Williams when securing a major fight had become such a daunting task. “Paul Williams will fight anyone and I thank him for that.”
Ishida was brought in as a perceived low-level risk for a comebacking James Kirkland last April. Less than one round later, the lesson learned by Kirkland – whose undefeated record went out the window courtesy of three knockdowns in the opening frame – was that anyone can get got at any given time.
It remains the defining moment of Ishida’s near 12-year career, only because nothing ever came of the monumental upset. An attempt was made at this very matchup last summer, only for HBO to not express any interest in the fight.
All that came of his big moment was seven months of inactivity before being offered a slot on the untelevised undercard of Saul Alvarez’ knockout win of Kermit Cintron last November.
Then came a second chance, as Showtime saw something in this matchup for whatever reason was deemed undesirable by its competitor across the street.
Now all Ishida has to do is go out there and repeat history. For the 36-year old southpaw, there’s no better formula for success than going with what already works. He wasn’t quite certain how he would beat Kirkland last year, but had confidence that his corner had all of the right answers.
“I fought a good style and beat him at his own style,” Ishida says of last year’s big win, deemed by many as the 2011 Upset of the Year. “My trainer had the game plan and I obeyed my trainer. I didn’t expect (the knockout) before the fight, but saw the chance in the fight and took it.”
In doing so, Ishida struck gold. Kirkland was caught early in the fight and simply never recovered. Seven months later, the Japanese middleweight scored another first round knockout, dramatically upping his KO to win ratio, shedding his reputation as a light hitting journeyman in the process.
The other side to that is now the expectation is always for him to score the knockout, or go in looking for it, rather than simply seeking the best means to secure victory.
Some will argue that Williams is ripe for the taking. The lanky southpaw appears worse for the wear after having been drilled by Sergio Martinez in the second round of their Nov. ’10 middleweight title fight and then struggling mightily to a controversial points win over Erislandy Lara last summer.
Still, Ishida is not ready to take the bait just yet. He remains confident of a victory, but isn’t quite ready to commit to how it will come about.
“I am not guaranteeing a knockout but I will beat Paul Williams (on Saturday) night. I’m going to make it a very long night for him.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]