Paul Williams has a shot in November to become the recognized middleweight champion. But what the Punisher wants even more is a shot to become a superstar, something he believes the current pound for pound elite like Floyd Mayweather will never give him.
Although Williams is starting his media rounds for his anticipated rematch with Sergio Martinez, the South Carolina fighter is quick to point out the contest is the result of several shunned opportunities. His promoter has spent 2010 trying to entice a welterweight or junior middleweight showdown with Shane Mosley, Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather.
Mosley’s trainer Naazim Richardson has flatly stated Williams is a natural middleweight and much too big for his fighter. Pacquiao ignored Williams’ challenge and has signed on to face Antonio Margarito a week before the Punisher faces Martinez. That leaves Mayweather, who Williams’ camp believes is the most reluctant out of the trio.
“I don’t think Floyd Mayweather will fight me any time,” Williams told the Examiner’s Michael Marley. “Manny Pacquiao, he might do it, he might step up but not Floyd. I guess Floyd won’t fight me because I don’t have a vagina.”
Both Mayweather and Williams share Al Haymon as an adviser. Haymon was at the center of controversy this summer regarding the latest round of failed negotiations between Pacquiao and Mayweather. In addition, there’s speculation that Haymon-advised fighters have a secret pact not to face each other. Andre Berto, who Haymon also advises, seemed to confirm that earlier this year in an interview with Beats, Boxing and Mayhem.
I’ve heard about it, but me and Paul have the same team when it comes to the management end,” Berto said. “So they’re trying to keep us away from each other unless there is a lot of money in the pot to grab. Right now we are in separate lanes doing our things.”
Williams disagrees. He argues that at Floyd’s level, he calls his own shots and isn’t dictated to. He views Mayweather as a protected fighter who won’t take anything but a calculated risk, unlike his rival Manny Pacquiao.
“If Floyd went to Al and said, ‘Hey, I want to fight Paul Williams, what can Al do?'” Williams asked the Examiner. “But Floyd is not going to ever say that. Pacquiao, he fights bigger guys, he’s different from Mayweather so maybe I will get to fight him. Floyd ranks himself with Ray Robinson, with Joe Louis, all these guys..but all those great guys, they all lost sometime. Mayweather won’t take a hard fight, he won’t take the chance of losing.”
Paul Williams’ trainer/manager, George Peterson, is equally frustrated with his fighter’s inability to land a superfight. He compares him to a young Marvin Hagler, who toiled for years in obscurity before landing his first title shot against Vito Antuofermo. Peterson thinks the star fighters will ignore Williams until they are left with no choice but to face him.
“If Paul could fight about every few months, he would become a real monster in boxing. Then the fans would see how sensational he really can be,” Peterson said. “I think Paul, at this stage, is like Marvin Hagler was at one point. He is vicious, he strikes like a cobra but guys run away from fighting him like they did with Hagler.”
Williams vs. Martinez will take place on November 20.
Paul Williams’ problem can he summed up by what Sergio Mora told me about him just last week.
“Paul Williams is one of the best fighters in the world pound for pound. Yet there’s no aura around him, he has no personality and the wrong kind of flash,” said Mora. “Paul Williams should be 10 times bigger than he is. It has nothing to do with his fighting. I don’t care, I like Paul. Me and him fought on the same cards and I love his people. But the mainstream doesn’t accept that.”
It’s a shame, but true. Some fighters are just able to draw fans to them. Williams is aggressive, has a leaky defense, and always goes for the knockout. Yet, attendance for his fights continue be low even with him facing top competition.
HBO has tried to put some promotional muscle behind him to no avail. In the commentary before his first fight with Carlos Quintana, Max Kellerman said Williams was dangerous and a possible next opponent for Mayweather. Even though the Punisher has won every bout since, outside of hardcore fans his reception continues to be lukewarm.
A superfight only happens when you have two stars. And right now, Paul Williams has yet to attain that star quality.
Still, Williams is on the right track. A win over Martinez and capturing the middleweight title does a lot to raise his profile. The division is barren, so afterward I see his big fight future at 154 pounds. Out of the beltholders in Dzinziruk, the Pacquiao-Margarito winner, Cotto and Cornelius Bundrage, he’s bound to get one of them in the ring.
What’s your opinion? Are Pacquiao and Mayweather ducking Williams, or does the Punisher need to put in more work to earn a shot?