Paul Williams Defeats Sergio Martinez
But The Boxing Fans Are The Real Winners


By Tim Donaldson
Photos: "Sugar" Ray Bailey

 

There may have been a lot of disappointment when Kelly Pavlik announced that he could not fight Paul Williams. I imagine Paul Williams was disappointed, as well as his promoter Goossen Tutor and not least of all HBO. The fight went from the main arena in Boardwalk Hall to the significantly smaller ballroom, and it was no longer a title fight. However, after witnessing the fight between Williams and Martinez, none of us really have any reason to be disappointed. Williams and Martinez gave us something that we boxing fans will be talking about for a long time to come.

Before the first bell and the fighters came out swinging, you could feel the excitement running through the crowd. Although most of the crowd was there to support Williams, Martinez had his supporters too. Both sides were extremely vocal. My ears are still ringing as I write this. In the small ballroom, the sounds of their chants had nowhere to go but up to the ceiling and back down again. Maybe that gave Williams and Martinez their energy, or maybe they gave their energy to the crowd. Either way it was contagious.

The fight was all action from the first round. Martinez went down first. It looked like it was going to be Williamsí round. No matter who you thought was winning up until that point, at that point, it would have been a 10-8 round. However, Martinez was not about to concede that round to Williams, and he dropped Williams. No more 10-8 round. At this point, the already loud crowd became deafening. Both fighters came out in the second, seeming anxious to prove their dominance over the other. Williams took a lot of punishment this round from Martinez, who at times was throwing some wild looking punches.

The third round looked to be Martinezís round too. Williams forgot that he had a height and reach advantage over Martinez. At first, I thought Martinez was tired or lazy for fighting with his arms down. And maybe he was. Or maybe he was trying to bait Williams. Because every time Williams would move in, Martinez would turn up the pressure and land several good shots, most to the body. But Martinez did not keep up that pressure in the fourth round. Williams began to take control of the fight. It was simple really. Williams just needed to step back from Martinez and use his height and reach. Even though Williams was taking some shots to the head, he was able to land a hard shot that rocked Martinez back. Martinez seemed to be holding on just to stay up.

Williams came out in the beginning of the fifth trying to finish what he started in the fourth. He was looking for the knockout. He chased Martinez into the corner and was knocking him around. Martinez didnít put up much of a fight at first. In fact, it looked like Williams might be able to finish him off. But Martinez, when it looked like it could be over, battled back. It was obvious that the fight was far from over.

In round six, Williams again took control of the round. He was outworking Martinez. Martinez was fighting back, but he seemed to lack power and his punches just werenít connecting like Williamsí. The seventh was much the same. Martinez kept turning, but Williams still was able to land his punches.

I would have said that the boxing fans had got their moneyís worth even if it had ended here or even if Martinez faded away and Williams dominated the next five rounds. But that was not to be. From the beginning, it was obvious that Martinez was working the body whenever Williams came in close. By the eighth round, that was beginning to pay off. Martinez taking shots at the body of Williams every chance he got. Then, Martinez landed a right to the head of Williams. Williams might not have gone down, but he looked shaky.

In the beginning of the ninth, Martinez came charging out. Maybe he saw his opportunity to end the fight. Maybe the chants of his fans were spurring him on. But Williams was not informed that the fight was over, and he quickly changed the dynamic of the fight. Martinez spent most of the round moving backward, away from Williams. Then in the tenth, Martinez took control of the round, landing a hard shot to the head of Williams. You could see the blood fly from several rows back. Williams was taking a beating, and he was showing it.

Martinez actually looked energized coming out in the eleventh round. It too was to be his round. Then came the twelfth and final round. The crowd was on its feet. Both fighters came charging out. It was looking like the ring could no longer contain their fight, as they clashed against the ropes and almost went tumbling over them. This happened more than once.

When the final bell sounded, the noise of the crowd again reached an almost deafening level. It quieted down for the scores. No one was too surprised with Julie Ledermanís score of 114-114. Lynne Carterís score of 115-113 for Williams seemed reasonable too. But the crowd once again erupted when they heard Pierre Benoistís score of 119-110 for Williams. They let Max Kellerman of HBO know their disapproval of it too.

No matter whom you thought won it was still a great fight. There was no lull in the action. Paul Williams threw 978 punches, landing 299. 631 of the punches thrown were power punches, and he landed 206 of those. Martinez threw 638 punches, landing 254. 446 of these were power punches, and he landed 183. So the stats support Williams as the winner, but fights are always more than just stats.

The question still lingers: what would have happened if Pavlik had fought Williams? Would it have been as exciting? I have a feeling we will never know the answer to that question, and I, for one, wonít lose any sleep over it.



 

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