BoxingScene.com reports this evening that a July 9 fight between Paul Williams and Erislandy Lara is a done deal. HBO will televise.
Yesterday, HBO pulled approval of a fight between Williams and Nobuhiro Ishida, and today it was reported that Williams could face either Lara or Deandre Latimore. Lara (15-0-1, 10 KO) is coming off of an uneven performance in March against Carlos Molina, but the Cuban fighter had been a top prospect in the 154-pound division for quite a while before that, and has the skills to test Williams in Paul's comeback fight.
Williams (39-2, 27 KO) was brutally knocked out last November against middleweight champion Sergio Martinez, and the initial agreed-to fight against Ishida was viewed as a very soft touch. Lara is, on paper, a tougher proposition, but will still be the underdog. 29-year-old Williams has faced and beaten the far tougher opposition.
But Lara is a great comeback opponent simply because it's a fight where there's interest for both sides. It will not only be a test of Williams in a comeback fro a bad loss, but a real test of Lara's potential, too. This isn't easy for either fighter, and that's the sort of matchup fight fans want. Or at least I hope it is. I guess I won't speak for everyone.
Does anyone fancy a Lara upset here? He has the skills to hang with just about anyone at 154, I think, but it's about his mental approach from here on out. He was lazy against Molina and damn near paid the price with his first professional loss. The close call might have served as a wake-up for him, and if he really comes out hard for this fight, I could see him giving a potentially shaky Williams a lot of trouble. How about you?