Paul Williams: More To Gain Than The Middleweight Championship
By Joseph “The Mad Boxing Genius” Torres (Oct 9, 2010) Doghouse Boxing (Photo © German Villasenor)  
Paul Williams is a special kind of fighter. I’m not talking about his insane 82’ inch reach. I’m not talking about his ability to squeeze his 6’1 frame into a welterweight body nor am I speaking about his confidence to fight in 3 different divisions at once (welterweight, junior middleweight, middleweight). What I’m talking about is the situation he finds himself in despite being one of the top pound for pound fighters in the world and being so close to three of the hottest divisions in boxing today.

A man with such talent, such accomplishments and an exciting style, he should by now be one of the sports’ PPV kings, but he’s not!

This is nothing more than a trendy question for boxing fans that makes for good conversation when it comes to “The Punisher”. However, to Paul Williams, it is more than a topic of discussion it is his livelihood and a serious problem that a man in his position should not have to deal with. Despite everything positive that is going on for Paul Williams, he finds himself at a career crossroads. It is not due to wins and losses that all great fighters eventually have to deal with down the road, but rather because of his appeal.

In recent events with Andre Dirrell, a young, hungry and talented fighter who had to withdraw from Showtime’s Super-Six Tournament due to neurological problems which also threatens his career, we should know now that anything can happen in this sport. It is the sick part of our sport that makes it so exciting. Every fighter knows they have a very small window of opportunity to make their mark on the sport and in their bank accounts.

Now, when you have someone like Paul Williams, who has defeated the elite, won titles and for the most part did it all in exciting fashion and still cannot a draw a following to save his life is a problem!

There is no doubt that he will make good money doing what he does right now. The question is will he make what he is worth? How he makes his money will determine how much.

When Oscar De La Hoya fought Ike Quartey in 1999, the numbers did very well. Over 500 PPV purchases were calculated. Both men played a part in the financial success. However, Oscar De La Hoya went on to even greater success, busting up financial records more than once. Ike Quartey never saw that kind of financial success again.

The reason why that fight did so well was not because Ike Quartey was as popular as Oscar De La Hoya. It was because he was a real good fighter who posed a real threat to defeat America’s Sweetheart in Oscar De La Hoya. Ike Quartey wasn’t a star; he was a supporting role who would make the evening interesting.

Will Paul Williams eventually be a leading man like Oscar De La Hoya or will he be stuck playing the supporting role of Ike Quartey?

This November 20th, could be the career turnaround that Paul Williams needs to maximize his worth when he rematches Sergio Martinez for the undisputed middleweight championship of the world.

These two men waged war on each other at the end of 2009. Each man tested the other with non-stop punches for twelve rounds causing each man to go down once. In the end, Paul Williams escaped with a controversial victory.

But there is more for Williams to gain than another victory over his rival. There is more for Williams to gain than the same title that Marvin Hagler, Jake LaMotta and Bernard Hopkins once held. There lies the opportunity for Williams to do a complete 360 turn with his marketing appeal.

If he wins the championship and does it more convincingly then he did the first time around, he automatically finds himself in a positive position that he has not been in before. As the new champ of 160 pounds (a division he is obviously not comfortable with) will have no choice but to finally stay put. What other options does he have? Will he try to make a fight with Manny Pacquiao that will never ever happen? Will he go up to 168 pounds to fight bigger and stronger fighters for a quick buck?

Much like anything else in life, it is always better to plan long term then go after instant gratification. As the middleweight champ, Paul will now establish himself as a “Ruler” instead of a “Beggar”.

His foray into multiple divisions was based on the notion that he could not land a meaningful fight at welterweight. Moving up and down in weight perceives him as a man who can’t get a fight and thus makes him look like a beggar. He needs to be perceived as a man who is in a position of power. He tried that a few times that killed his fight with Kelly Pavlik and almost put the kibosh on his anticipated rematch with Sergio Martinez.

As the man at 160 pounds, he becomes the meal ticket of the division. He has all the leverage and can dictate all the terms because the division is not deep yet it still has its opportunities.

You have warriors like John Duddy and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr (If he comes back up in weight) who have strong followings but are not much in the way competition. He can make a substantial amount of money with little threat to his throne. It will also further cement his stranglehold on the division.

If he is able to defeat Sergio Martinez this November, in two fights he can establish himself as the kingpin of the middleweights’ and as a draw (or appear as a draw to the networks). Other fighters will eventually come up in weight and challenge him and it will appeal to fight fans. Alfred Angulo is rumoured to be having weight issues and is searching for a big money fight. That can certainly happen if he stays unbeaten in 2011. He can give Kermit Cintron a rematch of their controversial fight. Even a fight with Ryan Rhodes in the UK wouldn’t do all that bad. A year or year and half later, his body would have matured and he can move up to super-middleweight where the division could still be relatively hot.

The downfall to Williams’ superstardom was because he had no identity. When you establish an identity, it makes it easier for fans to relate to you and thus making an emotional investment into you. When fans do that, they are willing to pay to see you. Give him credit his management tried to make him out to be an athlete who could go up and down in weight and be successful. However, he didn’t get the fights he needed to really make that image work. With all due respect, in reality he has not established anything in his career. He hasn’t established a home base, a division to rule nor has he even really established a fighting style - one day he’s a slick boxer the next day he’s an all out brawler.

Perception isn’t everything in boxing but it plays a big part. I hope Paul understands that he has the opportunity not only to win a real championship this November but to establish his mark on boxing. If he can stay consistent with his overall career if he beats Sergio Martinez, we may have another box office hit in Paul “The Punisher” Williams.

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