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April 17, 2014

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Boxing:

Too good for his own good

Williams’ domination of Wright could keep contenders away

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Steve Marcus

Paul Williams celebrates with his son Paul Williams Jr., 6, and boxing promoter Dan Goossen after defeating Winky Wright Saturday night at the Mandalay Bay Event Center.

Willams-Wright

Paul Williams lands on the 1,000-plus punches he threw at Winky Wright in his unanimous victory Saturday night at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Launch slideshow »

Paul Williams did exactly what he’s been doing his entire professional career Saturday night at Mandalay Bay.

He dominated his opponent, he entertained the crowd with his super-aggressive style, and he smiled the entire time doing it.

The boxing world responded by doing what it's been doing his entire professional career — ignoring him. No pay-per-view contract. No massive billboards plastered everywhere. In an arena that can hold over 12,000 spectators, 5,425 showed up.

Unless you’re a boxing fan, you probably have never heard of Paul Williams before his dominant victory Saturday over Winky Wright. Even then, the one-loss middleweight flies under plenty of radars.

But the southpaw from Augusta, Ga. (37-1, 27 KOs) is doing his best to change that.

“That’s why we wanted to fight a Winky Wright, to hopefully change that by opening a lot of eyes tonight,” said Dan Goossen, Williams’ promoter.

“You become the star by beating the fighters that have that name recognition. If he keeps doing what he’s doing, believe me, they’ll be chanting his name.”

In spite of the fact he’s one of the most talented fighters in the world, the 27-year-old has a few things going against him in terms of recognition.

First and foremost, he’s so good, that nobody wants to fight him.

Williams stands 6-foot-2, but feels most comfortable fighting at the 147-pound weight class, leaving him towering over all opponents. His absurd 82-inch reach is longer than that of both Ukrainian heavyweight champion brothers Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko, who each stand six-foot-six.

Williams is also an extremely conditioned fighter. It’s not uncommon for him to throw more than 100 punches in a round, as he did four times over the course of his 12-round unanimous decision victory over Wright (judges scored the bout 119-109, 119-109, and 120-108).

It’s how he’s earned the reputation of the “most feared fighter,” which for better or worse, follows him wherever he goes.

“I knew he was going to throw a lot of punches, but I didn’t know he was going to throw that many,” said Wright (51-5-1), who watched Williams throw an astonishing 1,086 punches his way, compared to the 511 he attempted.

“I felt good, he’s just so long. I figured he was long, but he was long. There are a lot of people that don’t want to fight him and I can tell why. Paul’s got a style and physical attributes that just make him amazing.”

The other aspect keeping Williams out of the spotlight is that his personality doesn’t seek it. Williams doesn’t go by the nickname “The Golden Boy” or insert the word “Money” into his name. He’s “The Punisher.” Everything about his career is solely based on his performance in the ring.

It’s not that Williams is shy or lacks personality, he’s just — quiet. When it’s his turn to talk, make sure the microphone is close, because “The Punisher” doesn’t speak very loud.

That creates a problem in a sport where trash talking builds fan bases that can be used in contract negotiations. In Williams’s case, top-named fighters are presented with the option of fighting a relatively unknown boxer they stand a very good chance of losing to.

Which is why Williams has been stuck on the undercard most of his career. Saturday was the first time the nine-year pro has been the main event in Las Vegas.

Williams and his camp are hoping that the win over Wright will finally force networks and other fighters into signing him to a major fight.

Currently, the primary target is WBA welterweight champion “Sugar” Shane Mosley. But Williams is open to any welterweight, super welterweight or middleweight fighter, and would like a shot at any of the current champions in Kelly Pavlik, Arthur Abraham or Felix Sturm.

Goossen even mentioned persuading Bernard Hopkins to drop down a weight class to take on Williams.

“Look, if you’re a sensible man, you don’t want to fight him,” Goossen said. “But we’ve got a lot of insensible men in this business. I believe with the type of money fighters will make now fighting him, it will push it through quicker.”

Or as Williams put it:

“HBO will put up the big dollars and those guys will have to get in the ring with me if they wanna eat. I’m not calling guys out anymore, I’m letting them call me out now.

“Every time I call them out, nothing happens.”

Sooner or later, Williams likely will achieve super star status simply because of how electric his performances are.

He showed that once again Saturday night. When the counterpunching Wright managed to land a punch, Williams seemed to actually enjoy it and threw two, twice as fast.

Even after the final bell, Williams said he still felt strong.

“I felt like it was the first round in the 12th round and that was because of my hard training,” he said.

If that’s the case, it may be harder than ever for Williams to find someone willing to fight him.

Brett Okamoto can be reached at 948-7817 or [email protected].

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