In an interview with Lem Satterfield of The RING, Paul Williams says he's hungrier for his February 18 fight with Nobuhiro Ishida than he was last July against Erislandy Lara (the generally accepted worst robbery of 2011, going in Williams' favor), and that he's still looking to make a big-time fight later on.
One thing I did find particularly interesting, perhaps even revealing, was this bit of the Q&A:
RingTV.com: What's so different now than, say, the hunger you displayed in the Quintana rematch?
PW: With the Quintana fight, the first time, I probably wasn't as hungry because I didn't know much about him. When he beat me, I had a reason to come back stronger. I had to get my belt back. With Martinez, you know, the first fight was back and forth.
So I was hungry the second fight. Pavlik, you know, we didn't know that much about him except that he was a good fighter. I wanted to get in there with him and put on a good show. But that fight never happened. That fight fell through and didn't happen.
Why didn't Williams "know much" about Carlos Quintana or Kelly Pavlik? It's not as if there was a lack of video available on either man. Does this simply tell us more about what is largely believed to be an unprepared, lousy team behind Williams, led by George Peterson, who consistently chalks everything up to luck and never attempts to correct Williams' glaring flaws, because he says there aren't any?
Williams (40-2, 27 KO) says he wants a fight with Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather Jr, but then who doesn't? He also says again he wants a third crack at Sergio Martinez, and I know some people think there's no need to see that, but honestly if Williams is impressive against Ishida (24-6-2, 9 KO) on February 18, why not? We're at the point where Sergio is going to start running low on credible opponents who will actually come fight him, assuming he wins as expected on March 17 against Matthew Macklin. They're split at 1-1 and both fights were memorable. I have no massive issue with Williams facing Martinez again if he looks good in a few weeks.
But I also don't think we're going to learn a lot about where Williams actually is with this fight. Ishida, 36, is a pretty decent fighter, but the sort of "pretty decent" that Williams was pretty handily beating years ago. I know he beat James Kirkland last April, but let's be serious and chalk that up as a fluke. Would any of you actually predict it to happen again? We've since seen Kirkland reunite with his real trainer (Ann Wolfe) and remind us what he looks like in the ring when he's right. He wasn't right that night, and Kenny Adams had done nothing for him. (Not Kenny's fault -- sometimes trainers and fighters don't mesh.)
If Paul Williams struggles against Nobuhiro Ishida, that's a big red flag. At 30, Williams is not a pup anymore, and most likely can't be changed. His style has caused him to take punishment. It adds up over the years. In ring age, Williams might be a bit past 30. If the Ishida fight can tell us anything, it's that.