On February 9 in Temecula, CA, Carlos Quintana was a 6-to-1 underdog to unseat Paul "The Punisher" Williams as the WBO's welterweight titleholder. Williams -- a 6'1", 147 pound puzzle -- was coming off of a win over rugged thumper Antonio Margarito the previous July to win the strap. More than a few considered him the REAL threat at 147 pounds to Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
That line of thinking was even echoed prior to the bout by HBO's Max Kellerman. By the end of the night, no one thought of Williams as a Mayweather challenger anymore.
It took only one round of action to find out which fighter had a puzzle to solve that night, and it wasn't the challenger. It was Williams, who had already been talking of fighting Shane Mosley next. And after two rounds, "The Punisher" looked befuddled.
Eventually, Williams made it more competitive. He never truly roared back into the fight as Margarito had done against him; instead, he started finding some semblance of timing, and also benefitted from Quintana getting tired. Quintana came in with the plan to simply outhustle Williams all night. And he did it, though there were moments when it looked like the pace might wind up being too much for him.
Quintana outlanded Williams. He landed at a notably higher percentage. And he landed the harder, cleaner shots overall. What more could he have done?
Still, it was the type of fight where the moments seemed long and cloudy. Waiting for the scores to be read, the scene from Cinderella Man was going through my mind, where they're waiting on the cards of the Baer-Braddock fight, and one of the sportswriters says at ringside, "They're gonna rob this poor bastard."
The scores came: 116-112, 115-113, 116-112, all for the winner and new WBO welterweight champion, Carlos Quintana. I said it wouldn't stun me if Quintana won the fight, though I admittedly thought Williams would be too much for him. It turns out that it did surprise the hell out of me when it really sunk in.
Above all the upset shock and the fact that Quintana had taken Williams' "0" was the fact that it was a good fight, one that was perfectly deserving of a rematch. This Saturday in Uncasville, CT, Quintana will put the strap on the line against Williams again, a mere four months after their first bout.
Can Williams revive himself in the welter ranks? Can Quintana repeat his masterful performance from February?
Williams seems to be the favorite among most once again. Many are chalking it up to an off-night for Williams, one where he didn't find his rhythm, didn't land his jab, didn't fight the gameplan, and got flat-out beaten by a good fighter that he should have been able to handle.
The Williams camp says that the weight is not an issue, but how can it not be? Williams is 6 feet, 1 inch tall. He's fighting at 147 pounds. It's not quite as freakish as Celestino Caballero, but it's pretty wild. He's a physical mutant in some ways.
Quintana came off in February as the man more prepared to go to the depths of his heart and soul to win the fight. Williams seemed off-track from the opening bell, and never fully recovered. He also made no excuses, accepting his loss like a true champion, and his desire to jump back in with the man that beat him is quite admirable. Paul Williams has acted like nothing but a gentleman this entire process.
But let's get past all the feel-good B.S.
Who's going to win this fight?
Williams will have to get back to what he does best, and what he does best is jab and land flurries. His KO rate is nice, but he's not a big puncher. Think of him sort of like Joe Calzaghe. Quintana, too, is no one-punch guy. He counter-punched Williams well, and also beat him to the punch -- that's what really won him to the fight. He landed sneaky punches from both sides that connected clean and stung Williams repeatedly. Just when Williams might have thought to pounce on an opening, he ate leather. It's hard to beat a guy that has your number.
And I really think that Carlos Quintana just might have Paul Williams' number. The great cliche about styles making fights is also very true, and Quintana's boxer-puncher style just gave Williams fits in February. I try to picture in my mind Williams at his best beating Quintana, and sure I can see it, but it's always close. I can see Quintana frustrating Williams and blowing him out over 12 rounds, though.
Even the greats have guys who just beat them. Winky Wright and Vernon Forrest both had Shane Mosley's number. Ricardo Mayorga had something that was just a little too much for Forrest. Kelly Pavlik outpunched and boxed with Jermain Taylor to two wins.
If I was betting money, I'd put some on Quintana. That's no recommendation to do so yourself, so don't blame me if you lose the rent on Quintana this Saturday. But from where I'm sitting, he's just got the right batch of goods to beat Paul Williams, no matter what.