Paul Williams has his return fight set on July 9, when he'll face Cuban contender Erislandy Lara on HBO. The 29-year-old former welterweight and junior middleweight titlist is also returning to 154 pounds from the 160 ranks, and sounds like he's ready to put the past behind him again, and move on from a loss. July 9 marks Williams' first fight after a brutal Knockout of the Year at the hands of Sergio Martinez in November. From Robert Morales:
"I got up, they checked me out. After that, somebody had a party as if I would have won. We still had the same party. Then I was down there at the casino tables as if nothing had happened." ... "Just like when I lost to Quintana, some had wrote me off and this and that," Williams said. "But I came back and showed them how good I can be. Like I've told everyone, I've only lost two fights and both were championship fights."
Williams (39-2, 27 KO) also still pines for a third fight with Sergio Martinez. The two competed in a Fight of the Year contender in 2009 and then put on a show -- if brief -- last November in the rematch:
"He threw a punch out of desperation to try and keep me off him. And it landed on a perfect point. It wasn't like he claimed, that he set a punch up. I take my hat off to him. He landed it. He's the champion. Let's do it again."
I have conflicting thoughts here. I like Williams and his trainer George Peterson accepting a loss as something that can happen when you fight top competition, which Williams has done or at least tried to do for most of his career. But to then write off Martinez's knockout blow as "a punch out of desperation" -- that's a bit more difficult. It was anything but desperation. Martinez had hit him with the same shot multiple times in the round and change of that fight, and had hit him with it in their first bout, too. It was a punch that Williams was simply wide open for. That's why it landed. That's why it knocked him out. It was a tactical error and a mistake on Tall Paul's part. It was not "desperation" by any means. Maybe he really believes this line, but something tells me he does not.
Here's the fight:
I mean, maybe I'm wrong, but that punch was just there for Sergio.
But I wish Paul all the best coming back, and I hope he looks as good after this loss as he did after losing to Quintana. The ambition is there. But has he really shaken off the devastating knockout?