Paul Williams told The Boxing Lab that he's viewing himself as the underdog this coming Saturday against Nobuhiro Ishida, getting himself into the mindset that he's being counted out and will prove the skeptics wrong with a good win.
He also made this excuse for his performance against Erislandy Lara, which he says isn't an excuse:
"Going into the Lara fight you could say I was a little gun shy. I wanted to see if I could take punches and if I was scared to get hit. That was one of my longest layoffs too. I'm not making any excuses but I was basically allowing him to get off and I was waiting on him."
There is a constant state of denial with Team Williams -- a belief that there's nothing wrong and that his bad habits and poor performances can't be corrected, because there's nothing to correct. It's one of the most fascinating things in boxing today, at least to me. It's really bizarre, and it's not just the things they say in public. Williams (40-2, 27 KO) has the same issues in every fight.
As for his fight with Ishida (24-6-2, 9 KO), there's no way to convince me that this hasn't been scouted and that this isn't meant to be a very winnable bounce-back for Tall Paul. Yes, Ishida beat James Kirkland, but even if you count what probably should have been a win over Rigoberto Alvarez for him, Kirkland is by far Ishida's best win, and it was just so flukey in so many ways.
Brian Vera beat Andy Lee once, too. It doesn't mean Vera is really better than Lee. It did happen, but it didn't again. I suspect Kirkland would take Ishida in a rematch, too.
But Ishida is a smart fighter, and he's tall, and he's technically sound. He really could be a big problem for Williams, if Paul is really as gone as some think that he is. If Paul is genuinely impressive, I will consider it a pretty strong win -- even if it's intended to be a pure bounce-back against a guy with name (thanks to the Kirkland win) that doesn't quite meet his ability, he does have the tools to be a problem. He's not a scrub.
This is a fight that has grown on me a little bit, I'll admit. I didn't like it at all when it was first signed, but really, I'm so (relatively) low on Paul Williams right now that I actually believe this is the right kind of fight for him.
Williams vs Ishida is live this Saturday night on Showtime at 10 p.m. EST, with the pre-fight festivities (including Chris Arreola vs Eric Molina) starting at 8 p.m. EST on Showtime Extreme. Bad Left Hook will have live coverage.