Last week, I warned of Paul Williams possibly being upset in his middleweight bout against slick southpaw Sergio Martinez. The Argentinean nearly pulled off that feat, losing a highly questionable majority decision this past Saturday (December 5).
Williams started fast on Martinez by catching him with a glancing overhand left. Martinez was caught as his legs were coming together, which resulted a balance knockdown. Martinez was not hurt and evened or possibly took the round by blasting Williams to the canvas with a jarring right hook to the temple.
Over the next several rounds, Martinez would turn Williams aggression against him. The Argentinean would allow Williams to shoot his punches out of range, and then leap forward with hard right hooks. The punches resonated through the arena, eliciting ohhs from the crowd. The Punisher look befuddled, but continued his signature volume punching despite not landing any damaging blows.
Martinezs own leap forward attacks resulted in a head butt that opened a dripping cut over Williams left eye. Still, the Punisher refused to capitulate and kept the pressure on Martinez, who arguably won the first 3-4 rounds on his harder, cleaner scoring punches.
In the middle rounds, Williams reasserted himself. Martinezs offense wilted, and Williams was now finding a home for the straight left, and also the right jab.
With the fight near even, Sergio Martinezs trainer recommended he start working the lead left now that Williams was on the lookout for right hooks.
The strategy paid immediate dividends. Towards the end of the 8th, Martinez repeatedly scored with straight lefts to the pit of Williams stomach. After several shots, Martinez wisely took the offense upstairs and stunned Williams with hard right hooks in the final minute.
Down the stretch, both men displayed their best assets of the fight: Martinez with thudding, single shot counters, and Williams with a consistent high volume of hooks, straights, and jabs which did minimal damage.
There was a least a handful of close rounds that couldve gone either way depending on what you look for in a round, so everyone expected a decision ranging for a point or 2 for either man or a draw.
Instead, this great fight was mired by an obscene scorecard of 119-110, along with 115-113, and 114-114, giving Paul Williams a majority decision. The judge, Pierre Benoist, who delivered the scorecard giving Martinez only one round, was rightly put on blast by HBO commentator Max Kellerman during the post-fight recap.
Martinez could do nothing but smile and shake his head in disbelief at the scorecard.
They called [him] the most feared man in the world, but I didnt have any fear at all in this bout, Martinez explained. It [the score] was an error, a true error. We should have a rematch.
Williams was battered, but verified he would do a rematch if his promoter would go for it.
Unfortunately for Martinez, Williams promoter Dan Goossen is looking to match the Punisher with either Shane Mosley (if he gets by Andre Berto on January 30), or Bernard Hopkins early next year.
This was an excellent scrap, so be sure to catch the HBO replay if you have an opportunity. Im interested to see everyones scorecard on this. I had Martinez winning close by 2 points. I preferred his cleaner punching, which was also harder, and did more damage when he landed.
In his fights with southpaws (Sharmba Mitchell, Carlos Quintana, and now Sergio Martinez), Williams has shown vulnerability to counter shots even in victory. Itll be interesting to see if elite fighters become more willing to face him because of his defensive lapses.
On the undercard, Chris Arreola bounced back from his tear-filled loss to Vitaly Klitschko in September with a TKO over Brian Minto in 4 rounds.
Pacquiao-Mayweather Contracts to be Finalized This Week
The Associated Press has confirmed that all the major negotiation issues (split, weight, gloves) between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao have been completed, clearing the way for both parties to make a formal announcement sometime this coming week.
Earlier this week, Mayweather surprised many critics and experts by being the first to sign the proposed contract after such a short negotiation period. Pacquiaos promoter, Top Rank CEO Bob Arum, wasted no time flying personally to the Philippines on Friday (December 4) to make sure his star fighter upheld his end of the agreement.
All of the contract stipulations have not been revealed. So far, it is confirmed that the fight will be held at 147 pounds for Pacquiaos WBO welterweight title, which he won after his TKO over Miguel Cotto on November 14. In addition, both men will be able to select their own gloves (8 oz).
Other important matters, such as ring size, have not been disclosed and likely will be determined by where the superfight is held.
Arum is scheduled to send a survey team out to Dallas to meet with Cowboys head Jerry Jones to see how realistic it would to be to hold the bout in the newly built Cowboys Stadium.
Other potential site locations include the New Orleans Superdome, Las Vegas MGM Grand, and possibly creating a 30,000 seat venue on the Vegas Strip.
Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach is not ecstatic about the March date. Before the signing, he explained to various outlets that Manny needed time to let his broken eardrum (which he received in the Cotto fight) heal and it wasnt feasible to have such a quick turnaround.
As it stands now, Pacquiao and Roach are planning a special 12 week camp to study film and dissect Mayweathers style. Per the timeline to Marchs showdown, Pacquiao will begin light workouts by the end of this month.
Freddie Roach is right to be concerned about Pacquiao getting back in the ring so quickly. Its essentially a roll of the dice. On one hand, Pacquiao will maintain his fighters mindset and supreme physical condition. On the other, Manny could become worn down from not having sufficient time to heal from Cotto, and the vigorous training and sparring required for that bout. Although Pacquiao ending up dominating Cotto last month, he took some heavy damage early, especially when he decided to play rope a dope in those early rounds. Plus Pacquiaos intense sparring sessions certainly dont help any wear and tear.
Floyd Mayweather, who in recent years has only fought an average of twice a year, will be right on schedule fighting Pacquiao in March 2010 as a follow up to his September 2009 fight against Juan Manuel Marquez.
With all that said, I think Roachs idea for a special 12 week camp (over the normal 8) is excellent. Pacquiaos last 3 left hook heavy opponents (De La Hoya, Hatton, Cotto) fight nothing like Mayweather. This should be more than enough time for Manny to tighten, if not completely fix the issues seen in his most recent fights (cutting off the ring, for example).
Mayweathers a gym rat, so it wouldnt surprise me if hes already training for the biggest bout, legacy and financial-wise, of his career.
At press time, the one official press conference to announce the fight will be held in New York City.
Amir Khan Blasts Out Salita in 1
Amir Khan (22-1, 16 KOs) was this time on the winning side of a 1st round demolition when he dropped Dmitriy Salita (31-1-1) 3 times in route to a 76 second TKO.
Khan pounced immediately and had Salita down from a straight right just 10 seconds into the fight. Khans flurries drove Salita into a corner, and the challenger was down again on one knee courtesy of two overhand rights.
The coup de grace came courtesy of a left hook, and the referee call a halt to matters after Salita suffered a third knockdown.
Khan was written off by many after getting blitzed in September 2008 against Breidis Prescott. Looking back, Khan feels that first round KO loss has made him a better fighter since it brought him to Freddie Roach.
It was a blessing in disguise, what happened against Prescott. I got beat and came back stronger. Im getting stronger and quicker, Khan explained in his post-fight interview. Freddie said to take it easy, pick the right shots and youll take this guy out, and we did. Freddie is a great trainer, hes like a father figure to me, and to have him in my corner means a lot. Everyone knows Im a hardworking fighter, and if you put the hard work in youre going to get the benefits.
With the win, Amir Khan retains his WBA light-welterweight title. He has now expressed interest in fighting Ricky Hatton, which if signed would be a highly anticipated superfight in England.
Throwback Fight of the Week: Ken Norton vs. Jerry Quarry (March 24, 1975)
By the mid 70s, consummate contender Jerry Quarry had seen better days. Even though his popularity had not waned, the multiple beatings from legends like Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier had begun to sap the form from the once formidable Irish fighter.
The year before, he took a horrific beating from Joe Frazier before special referee Joe Louis finally stopped the carnage during the 5th.
With 60 fights behind him, Quarry signed on to face Ken Norton in hopes of securing a title shot against Muhammad Ali.
At a chiseled 63, 218 pounds, Norton proclaimed before the fight that Quarrys style was tailor-made for him, and he would chop down the divisions final white hope in short order.
Ken Norton prediction was painfully accurate.
Quarry threw his best shots, but failed to find an answer for Nortons crab (cross-armed) defense, which also befuddled greats Larry Holmes and Muhammad Ali.
Norton would simply wait for Quarry to shoot his load, and then abuse him with head-snapping hooks on the inside.
After just a few a rounds, Quarrys face was a swollen, bloody mess. Realizing he was cut badly in the 3rd, Quarry threw his best hooks in desperation and stunned Norton a few times against the ropes.
Unfortunately for Quarry, his success was limited and Norton went back to punishing him with short hooks and uppercuts to close out the round. Over the next two stanzas, Quarry took a frightful beating before the referee saved the brave Quarry, who refused to go down and shoved the ref away in disgust.
The fight would serve as the end of Jerry Quarrys days as a contender. He would fight sporadically over the next two decades, unwisely making a comeback in 1992 that contributed to him suffering from pugilistic dementia. He was inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame before dying of cardiac arrest in 1999. His final record is 53-9-4, 32 KOs.
Ken Nortons dominant win would help propel him to a rubber match with rival Muhammad Ali in 1976. He ended up losing a highly controversial unanimous decision, but would bounce back with wins over Duane Bobick and Jimmy Young. His last title attempt was a classic 15 round war with a young Larry Holmes in 1978, which he lost by split decision.
Norton would retire in 1981 following a 1st round knockout to Gerry Cooney. He would be inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 1992. His final record stands at 42-7-1, 33 KOs.