Knockout Nation: Paul Williams’ Payback? Latin Snake vs. The Viper! Pavlik Returns! Power Punchers Face Off! Toney-Rahman Confirmed

 

When Paul Williams came to ring blasting McFadden

and Whitehead’s “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now” on February 9, 2008, he was all

smiles. He was the reigning WBO Champion, and being given a showcase fight live

on HBO.

 

“Experts” had been touting Williams as the man to

possibly dethrone Floyd Mayweather since Paul’s gutsy decision win against

Antonio Margarito.

 

In fact, minutes before the bout HBO commentator

Max Kellerman went as far to say Williams “likely presents the greatest threat

to Mayweather.”

 

Indeed, hindsight is 20/20. With surprising

efficiency, Carlos Quintana outboxed and outmuscled the 6’1 Williams to a clear

unanimous decision win. The shock in this bout was the sheer ease in which

Quintana outclassed Williams. The difference in hand speed was glaring, as

Quintana easily countered and outpunched Williams on the outside and

occasionally in the trenches.

 Paul’s weakness has always been that he never

“fights tall,” since he consistently compromises his height by leaning in when

he throws. This proved disastrous as Williams smothered most of his inside

work, and was not once able to hurt Quintana.

 

Fast forward three months, and Paul Williams now

returns to the ring in the role of challenger and underdog. This rematch has

serious ramifications for Williams, who now has lost much of the hype and

luster that surrounded his career before the first fight. In a time with

limited TV dates, back to back losses would make “The Punisher” an afterthought

in a division full of stars and solid fighters. A good win allows Williams to

justify the Quintana loss as an anomaly, and possibly put him in contention to face

big name fighters like Shane Mosley later this year.

 

Carlos Quintana has had an interesting last two

years. After ending the hype around promising prospect Joel Julio in June 2006,

Quintana was summarily executed in five brutal rounds by Miguel Cotto in

December of that year. Many dismissed Quintana as a viable contender after that

bout, and his one quiet comeback bout in September 2007 did little to convince

pundits that he had much of a chance against the previously undefeated Paul

Williams. Now only two fights after the crushing Cotto defeat, Quintana is a

world champion.

 

For Paul Williams to reverse February’s decision,

he’ll have to punch with authority to gain Quintana’s respect early on. In the

middle rounds of the first fight, Williams found success when he threw hard

jabs from the outside. These shots kept Quintana off balance and prevented the

overhand left hook counters that rained down on Williams in the earlier rounds.

Knowing when to mix in hard shots with light volume punching will make Quintana

think twice of rushing in to bully and counterpunch.

 

Also, Williams must do what he has rarely done in

over 30 fights, and that’s “fight tall.” Leaning forward when he throws will

only lead to more jarring counterpunches from his opponent. By using his

height, it’ll make Quintana’s job much more difficult and force the champion to

take more risks and give Williams his own desired openings.

 

For Quintana, the new champ should continue the

game plan from the last fight. Quintana’s best weapons in the first bout were

his use of feints and lateral movement. Williams’ normally high punch output

was destroyed since he could not get set to throw against such an elusive

target. Quintana’s feints allowed him to set up embarrassing lead right and

left hook counters on the befuddled Williams. One minor adjustment for Quintana is that he

should remember to keep his hands moving on the inside.

 

On my card, Williams was able to take rounds 5-8

of the first fight due to outworking Quintana on the inside. If Quintana

remembers to not allow the larger Williams to lean on him and keeps his shots

compact, he can have the edge on the inside this time around.

 

While Paul Williams will undoubtedly fight much

better, this fight is Carlos Quintana’s to lose. The Puerto Rican slickster

holds the stylistic advantage of having faster hands, better movement/defense,

and a stronger punch. These skills should still decrease much of Williams’s

volume punching, and give Quintana a clear edge in clean punching. My

prediction is Carlos Quintana by a hard-fought split decision with Paul

Williams a very live underdog.

 

 Mora Steps into The Viper’s Nest

 

After years of career idleness, Contender alum

Sergio Mora steps up to the big leagues this Saturday against WBC 154lb

champion Vernon “The Viper” Forrest.

 

The bout marks Mora’s first high profile bout since

defeating rival Peter Manfredo, Jr. in 2005. Mora is well known for

inexplicably turning down two fights against Jermain Taylor and Kassim Ouma in

2007. In his last two bouts against trial horses Elvin Ayala and Rito

Ruvalcabab, the “Latin Snake” has been sloppy and lacked timing due to his

infrequent time spent in the ring.

 

  Vernon Forrest is coming off dominant wins in 2007

against Carlos Baldomir and Michele Piccirillo. The former welterweight champ

has been in a foul mood at press conferences, likely feeling at this stage in

his career he should have more lucrative bouts. He’s vowed to take his aggression

out on Mora and leave him on a “stretcher.”

 

Obviously, this is a huge jump in class for Mora.

Vernon Forrest if a former undisputed welterweight champion who holds wins over

Shane Mosley (2X) and Ike Quartey (albeit controversial). He’s a 16-year

veteran who’s seen every possible style in the ring, and was avoided by many

welters in the early 2000’s because of his stiff jab and powerful right hand. And

in the last year Forrest has regained his form and power that appeared lost

following multiple shoulder surgeries since 2003.

 

While Mora will be motivated to erase the

Contender tag on his career, Forrest has way too much skill for the Latin Snake

to overcome. Forrest has not shown his age in his last fights, and Mora likely

won’t have the strength and stamina to pressure Forrest at 154lbs since he

normally competes at middleweight. Unless Vernon Forrest gets old overnight,

expect the Viper to deal Sergio Mora a TKO loss by the 9th round.

 

Kelly

Pavlik Returns in HBO Showcase Bout

 Undefeated middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik

returns to the ring this Saturday against the UK’s Gary Lockett.

 

An unknown in the States, Lockett is being seen as

a warm-up for Pavlik to prepare for a possible showdown against current

light-heavyweight champion Joe Calzaghe. That fight began to build steam after

Calzaghe’s first option, Roy Jones, fell through due to Jones’s high purse

demands. Also Pavlik’s first option, John Duddy, was nixed after the popular

Irishman delivered a subpar performance in his last bout against Walid Smichet

in February.

 

Locket is an aggressive come forward fighter who

is prone to getting hook happy at times. This should be an excellent style for

Pavlik, who’ll connect first due to his straighter punches. Look for Pavlik to

end this bout by the middle rounds with little trouble from the gutsy but

limited Lockett.

 

Power

Punchers Daniel Ponce de Leon and Juan Manuel Lopez Battle

 

In the sleeper fight for this weekend, WBO

champion Daniel Ponce de Leon faces Juan Manuel Lopez. Both fighters hit very

hard, and have a combined 49 KOs in the 56 fights between them.

 

Lopez’s best strategy would be to use his superior

technique to outbox the naturally stronger Ponce de Leon, who’ll seek to walk

the younger fighter down and brawl. The keys to victory can be seen in Ponce de

Leon’s lone loss to Celestino Caballero, who out boxed the Mexican slugger

behind straight punches in between Daniel’s looping shots. However, it remains

to be seen if Lopez will do this and not rely solely on his power, which has

carried him well against lesser opposition.

 

This is essentially a pick ‘em fight with a slight

edge going to Ponce de Leon due to his experience. Even so, I’m picking Juan

Manuel Lopez to use his boxing skills and pull off the upset win.

 

Toney-Rahman

II Confirmed for July 16

 

Former top heavyweight contenders James Toney and

Hasim Rahman have come to terms for a rematch on July 16. Currently promoters

for both men are working to secure a TV date.

 

James Toney’s heavyweight career has collapsed in

recent years due to weight and steroid issues. After receiving a gift draw

against Rahman in March 2006, Toney went on to lose two punishing contests

against heavy puncher Samuel Peter. The second contest was dominated by Peter

and saw Toney get hit more with clean punches than at any point in his career,

even being dropped by a jab early in the fight. Since then, Toney was suspended

for a second time due to steroids after a lackluster bout against Dan

Batchelder in May 2007. The Rahman bout will be Toney’s first fight in well

over a year.

 

Since the draw with Toney, Hasim Rahman has faired

a little better. After being knocked out for a second time by Oleg Maskaev in

August 2006, Rahman lowered his competition and quietly defeated such

journeyman as Taurus Sykes and Zuri Lawrence in 2007.

 

Because of their names, this fight will generate

attention for the fractured division.

Both men are well past their primes and this may make for an exciting

fight. With 80 professional fights since 1989, James Toney at 39 has a lot more

mileage on him from the strain of competing at weight classes from middleweight

to heavyweight. It’s hard to imagine

Toney getting stopped, but at this stage of his career and his body well broken

down I can see a possible referee stoppage.

 

Throwback

Fighter of the Week: Bob Foster

 

When great light-heavyweight fighters like Archie

Moore and Ezzard Charles are mentioned, the name Bob Foster has to be listed

right with them.

 

At 6’3″, the lithe Foster was able to generate

immense, whipping power in his punches, particularly the left hook. Foster was

undefeated in title fights at light-heavyweight, having among his knockout

victims legend Dick Tiger, Vicente Rondon, Mike Quarry and Chris Finnegan

(1972 Fight of the Year).

 

Foster was only vulnerable when he made trips to

heavyweight, where he was knocked out against Ernie Terrell, Joe Frazier and

Muhammad Ali.

 

His final record stands at 56(46 KOs)-8-1.

 

Brutal KO against Mike Quarry

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