Williams overwhelms a still-dangerous Wright
This straight left that Paul Williams (left) landed to the face of Winky Wright is one of 1,086 punches the rangy southpaw whirlwind landed during their middleweight encounter Saturday. Williams, a former welterweight titleholder and current junior middleweight contender, won a lopsided unanimous decision, establishing himself in a third weight class. Photo / Naoki Fukuda
LAS VEGAS — Winky Wright was the Winky Wright we’ve come to know, which says a lot about Paul Williams’ performance before 5,425 fans Saturday at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
Williams again proved he's a force of nature against which no normal fighter could find shelter. Put simply, he overwhelms his opponents with a never-ending storm of hard punches from every crazy angle imaginable. They can barely breathe, let alone fight back.
Wright learned that the hard way.
The former titleholder, a defensive wizard who looked sharp after a 21-month layoff, did reasonably well. He caught many of Williams’ blows on his gloves and landed some clean, eye-catching shots himself. Still, he was shutout on one official card (120-108) and won one round on the other two (119-109 and 119-109).
That’s how maddening Williams can be for his opponents.
Afterward, Wright, who has been in the ring with many talented fighters over his 17-year career, tried to describe what he had endured.
“He fought a great fight,” said Wright, speaking at the post-fight news conference. “I knew he threw a lot of punches. I didn’t know he threw THAT many punches. I can’t take anything away from him. I feel good. He was just so long. God. I figured he was long, but he was loooong. I can’t take nothing away from him. I’m the type of fighter who comes to fight anybody no matter what. Paul is a fighter a lot of people don’t want to fight. I can tell why now. He has long arms. He’s a tough, smart fighter. He’s tough. I hit him with good body shots, with hooks. He came back and did his thing. I definitely take my hat off to him.
“I’m happy with my performance. My timing was a little off (because of the layoff). I fought a great fighter who made (my timing) off,” he continued and then turned to Wright. “This is the first press conference I’ve come to after a loss. I felt I had to come here and give it to you like you deserve.”
Williams (37-1, 27 knockouts) might not be a fan favorite because he doesn’t have one-punch knockout power and it's difficult to appreciate his awkward style. However, many boxing purists are in awe of what they see.
First there’s the punch output. On Saturday, he threw 104 punches in the first round and 106 in the 12th and final round – stunning consistency — and 1,086 total, or almost 100 punches a round. That’s inhuman, particularly for a guy his size (6-foot-1).
“The 12th round felt like the first. That’s due to all the hard training,” said Williams, who runs seven miles a day.
It’s almost impossible to defend against his punches because they come from underneath or overhead or from one side or from the other or from other places punches don’t normally emerge. He’s like an octopus. An opponent might be able to block a few of the punches but so many get through.
Then there are those arms. He has a wingspan of 82 inches. Heavyweight titleholder Vitali Klitschko, who is 6-7, has an 80-inch wingspan. So not only does he throw a million punches from every conceivable angle, he does it from a distance that makes it difficult to return fire.
He's a good defensive fighter, mostly because he doesn't stop moving for a moment. I could swear I saw him moving his head side to side while he delivered a hard right-left combination, which seems surreal.
On top of all that, he seems to have a good chin. Wright, although not a big puncher, landed some good, hard shots that barely fazed Williams.
He might be the closest thing to a perfect fighting machine in boxing.
“He’s going to be very tough for anyone to beat,” Wright said.
And, again, this was no journeyman he dismantled on Saturday. Wright (51-5-1, 25 KOs) is one of the most-respected fighters of his time and a true middleweight. Remember: Williams has been fighting between 147 and 160 pounds; he’s probably a natural 154-pounder. So he also did what he did at a slight size disadvantage.
All of that is why even the most-jaded boxing observers were shaking their heads after Saturday’s fight: Williams truly was awesome.
As Wright pointed out, Williams has long been one of the most-avoided fighters in the world. He probably didn’t help any in that regard on Saturday.
Michael Rosenthal can be reached at [email protected]