By Rick Reeno
The entire boxing community was watching Shane Mosley's masterful performance against Antonio Margarito last Saturday night. Two members of that community were WBO interim-junior middleweight champion Paul "The Punisher" Williams and his trainer/manager George Peterson. For quite some time, Williams has been trying to secure a rematch with Margarito to set the record straight on which of the two was the dominant fighter at 147-pounds.
Williams won a decision over Margarito in July of 2007. Nearly a year later, Margarito returned with a vengeance to stop unbeaten Miguel Cotto. After Margarito’s career defining win against Cotto, there was a lot of confusion over the rightful heir to the welterweight throne. A rematch with Williams was in order.
At one point, Williams’ promoter, Dan Goossen, tried to make the rematch by making Margarito an offer of $4 million dollars. The offer, sent over to Bob Arum of Top Rank, was never passed on to Margarito’s team. Last November, Sergio Diaz, Margarito’s co-manager, told BoxingScene.com that he was unaware of any $4 million dollar offer for a Williams rematch. Diaz approached Top Rank about the Williams rematch, and Arum denied the existence of such an offer.
"We spoke to our promoter about the Williams fight and no formal offer was ever made. I can go on the Internet and say we offered any amount of money for whatever fighter. Bob told us there was no formal offer made — it was just an Internet offer," Diaz said.
Top Rank president Todd duBoef, echoed Diaz’s statements during an interview with Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sports. During his conversation with Iole, duBoef said there "never was a Williams offer."
Iole did some digging and received two hard pieces of evidence from Dan Goossen. The first was a letter dated July 31, which Goossen sent to Arum. In the letter, Goossen offered Margarito "a minimum guarantee of $4 million against 50 percent of net revenues to Top Rank/Margarito."
The second piece of evidence was a letter dated August 4, rejecting Goossen’s offer. Arum tried to make a fight between Williams and Pavlik, but the two sides were never able to reach an agreement. More so than the experience from the Pavlik negotiations, Arum refused to do business with Williams’ advisor Al Haymon.
"Thank you for your letter of July 31, 2008 regarding Paul Williams. After the terrible experience I was subjected to by Paul Williams, his camp and advisor in connection with a (Kelly) Pavlik fight, I have absolutely no intention whatsoever to be involved in any fight with Mr. Williams. Accordingly, your proposal is in all respects rejected and I would request that you do no contact me again regarding Mr. Williams," Arum wrote in the letter.
As early as November, Top Rank was laying the groundwork for Margarito’s 2009 experience. A fight with Shane Mosley in January, a rematch with Miguel Cotto in June, and a possible third fight at the end of the year. Most were anticipating, or at least hoping, that Williams would become the year-end opponent for 09.
When Margarito stepped in the ring to fight Mosley, he was a 4-1 favorite to win. There were very few who gave Mosley a respectable shot to win the fight.
Williams thought Mosley would beat Margarito, but even he was surprised with the one-sided nature of the fight. Williams told BoxingScene.com that Margarito is done as a top fighter. Over the years, Margarito has been involved in a number of wars. Williams credits those wars as the contributing factors to Margarito’s physical decline against Mosley.
“I'm sure Margarito wishes he took that deal now. He would have still lost but at least he would have went to the bank. Instead he lost his title, his pride and $2 million dollars [Margarito made $2.3 for Mosley]. I thought Molsey would win. I though Mosley would win the first seven rounds and Margarito would come on late, but after I saw him taking all of those punches - I knew it was just a matter of time,” Williams said.
“He took all those right hands. Shane took my blueprint and Cotto's blueprint and used them both. He stopped Margarito's momentum, didn't let him get off and jumped on him with combinations. After a few rounds his body couldn’t take it anymore. Margarito thought he would tire out but Mosley is twelve round fighter, he won't tire out. Margarito was just punching a heavy bag that was moving. He ate everything that Shane threw. His corner should have stopped that fight. Sugar Shane was just getting stronger and stronger. Shane beat him with speed. People don't realize that speed is power.”
“He's definitely done. He went twelve hard rounds with me, then eleven with Cotto. He had twelve hard rounds with Clottey and the fight with Santos. He just broke down. I like him as a fighter and hope he can come back and become a champion again, but everyone now has the blueprint on him. He’s fought the same way for his entire career, he can't change."
With a Margarito rematch no longer on his mind, Williams’ next order of business is an April fight with Winky Wright at the middleweight limit of 160-pounds. Mosley’s win over Margarito makes it a bit interesting. Wright has two solid wins over Mosley. If Williams can overcome Wright, it would set the stage for a fight between Williams and Mosley. Williams is confident that he can continue to safely come down in weight to 147. He wants to fight Mosley but he doesn’t see the fight taking place. He believes that a win over Wright will only scare Mosley away.
“Sugar Shane won't fight me, even with his big win over Margarito. Margarito comes straight forward, leaning in, and Shane knows it won't be like that with me. I would love to get Sugar Shane in the ring and I hope he thinks he can do that to me. I don't know what I could to get him in the ring. We are definitely going to give Winky a good beating, but after Mosley sees that - he really won't want any. He'll see me beating guys at 160 and keeping my power and he won't want any,” Williams said.
Like his fighter, Peterson saw the Margarito loss coming. He agrees that Margarito should have turned down a fight with Mosley and taken the bigger check for a rematch with Williams. Peterson, like Williams, viewed Margarito’s performance against Mosley as a sign of his physical decline. A physical decline that Peterson attributes to the multiple wars on Margarito’s record. According to Peterson, Margarito’s aura of being a feared product is over.
“I always said the "Tijuana Tornado" was a soft breeze at the shore. They tried to protect him from us and lost $2 million dollars. We want Shane after Winky. I congratulate Shane. He looked like the Sugar Shane of old. Not to take anything away from Shane but that was not the same Margarito that fought Paul. Margarito was involved in too many wars. He went twelve hard rounds with Paul and then eleven with Cotto. I'm telling, watch, everyone will start calling Margarito out,” Peterson told BoxingScene.
“Molsey saw what Paul did and what Cotto did and said to himself 'they worked him over real good so now I'm going to step in and finish him off.' He came to that fight as a finished product. We already spanked that butt and after Winky, we are going to give the same kind of spanking to Sugar Shane.”
Mosley’s win had a black cloud that circled over the Staples Center. A black cloud that circled around Margarito. Williams gave his opinion on the continued controversy over Margarito’s hand wraps for the fight with Mosley. HBO broke the story to a stunned viewing audience.
According to HBO's Jim Lampley and Larry Mechant, Mosley’ trainer Nazim Richardson noticed an unusual shape to Margarito’s wraps. He made a re-wrap request to an inspector with the California State Athletic Commission. After Margarito’s hands were unwrapped, a “plaster-like substance” was discovered. There have been conflicting stories on what the inspector actually found, but an attorney for Golden Promotions confirmed that it looked like plaster.
“It was a plaster-like substance,” said attorney Stephen Espinoza to Yahoo Sports. “It was bagged up by the commission and taken as evidence.”
Williams says the controversy is being made to be bigger than it actually should be. He doesn’t see how anything would have helped Margarito in the fight.
“It didn't matter what Margarito had in his gloves, it wouldn't have changed the outcome of the fight. He didn't land nothing. He couldn't land any punches. Sugar Shane took him to school,” Williams said.
Unless there is some kind of suspension brought down, Margarito may still fight Cotto in a June rematch. This time around, Williams believes Cotto will be ready.
“I think Cotto will get him this time. I don’t think he will lose the rematch. You have to stop Margarito's momentum and that's what Sugar Shane did and made Margarito a dead man walking.,” Williams said.
As for Mosley, there has been some talk in the press about Golden Boy Promotions trying to maneuver him in the path of Floyd Mayweather Jr. Williams doesn’t think Mayweather will be interested. There are two options on the table for Mosley, Williams says, a fight with him or a fight with Manny Pacquiao. He thinks Mosley will jump for the fight with Pacquiao.
“I don't think Mayweather will take that fight with him. I think Shane can beat Mayweather. They are both fast, but Mosley has more power. The only real guys out there for him are me and Manny Pacquiao. I see him picking Manny over me. Fighting me is a suicide mission,” Williams said.