In a steady, busy fight between a pair of fighters willing to let their hands go, Paul Williams largely dominated Nobuhiro Ishida en route to a shutout 12-round decision on three scores of 120-108 tonight on Showtime from Corpus Christi, Texas. Bad Left Hook scored it 118-110 for Williams, but the two rounds that went the Japanese fighter's were were debatable at best, admittedly, and the shutout scores are entirely easy to understand.
Williams (41-2, 27 KO) was fighting for the first time since his July robbery of Erislandy Lara on HBO, a fight he's clearly sick of talking about and wishes to move on from, which is understandable enough.
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Does tonight's win prove that Paul Williams is back? Well, that's a difficult question without a yes or no answer. It doesn't prove he's ready to face top guys and be a favorite again, and that may never be his role in boxing from here on. He was cracked a few times by Ishida (24-7-2, 9 KO), and his defense was as inviting as ever, if you even want to call it defense.
He also lost snap on his punches as the fight wore on, and his power seemed to fade. He looked sharp early; the longer the fight went, the duller he appeared. Williams was consistently active and, in comparison to Ishida, consistently effective, but what does that mean against a top junior middleweight or middleweight? Probably not a lot.
Paul Williams is still a pretty good fighter, which in reality was probably all he ever was. It's not a knock, but "great" is thrown around too often, and guys get dreams cast onto them that they probably never did have the ability to live up to, and Williams seems like one of those guys. He's a respectable, fun fighter, with enormous flaws. He's an action guy who doesn't come up with boring fights because it's just not in him.
Is he one of the ten best junior middleweights in the world? Yeah, probably. He's done a lot more to claim that than some guys have, guys who are basically universally regarded as top ten in the division. And he's done every bit as much as someone like Austin Trout or Carlos Molina have recently, guys that a lot of people root for because they're, in a way, underdog stories, not having power promoters. He's still quality. He was expected, by many, to be great. He isn't. There's no shame in that.