Williams a forgotten man at welterweight
By Lyle Fitzsimmons,
Contributing Boxing Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
He's feeling a little unwanted these days, that's for sure.
But don't think for a second that Paul Williams has lost his sense of humor. In fact, the WBO welterweight champion has come up with what he considers a perfect solution to his absence from the marquee for the next 147-pound mega-event.
"Tell Manny I'll split my purse with him if he lets me take his place in that fight," he said in a Tuesday FitzHitz interview, referring with a laugh to the impending novelty match between ex-welterweight champion Oscar De La Hoya and lower-weight dynamo Manny Pacquiao.
"He doesn't want to fight a guy that big, so let me do his work and he'll still get paid."
And, just in case the 27-year-old's phone doesn't ring anytime soon with a willing Filipino on the other end, he's come up with a busy work Plan B - calling out every champion, contender and wannabe superstar between welterweight and middleweight - perhaps even super middleweight.
Paul Williams is willing to take on any and all comers.
"I'll be campaigning at 47, 54, 60 or 68. It all depends on who's out there looking," said Williams, who stands 6-foot-2 and figures he could easily add 20 pounds without sacrificing speed, power or stamina.
"If there are guys out there wondering why no one will fight them, they've got someone now, no matter who it is. That's my mindset."
The Aiken, S.C. native won the WBO belt from Antonio Margarito last summer, briefly lost it to Carlos Quintana and regained it by violently stopping Quintana in one round on June 7.
He was recently rumored close to meeting middleweight claimant Kelly Pavlik before that deal fell apart and Pavlik instead signed to fight Bernard Hopkins at 170 pounds.
Another perceived slight came two weeks ago, when Margarito defeated Miguel Cotto for the WBA title and instantly earned renewed acclaim as the No. 1 fighter in the division, in spite of the unanimous nature of the verdict in Williams' favor - 116-112, 116-112 and 115-113 - when the two met on Margarito's home turf at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
So, in addition to unwanted add frustrated.
"It seems like they're the ones always trying to find a reason not to fight me," Williams said.
"It's always 'Williams isn't marketable' or 'Williams isn't on my level.' The way I look at it, Margarito is in the same weight class as me and I beat him, yet he's considered the best welterweight. Let's see him avenge his loss before he calls himself the best."
Williams' camp added fuel to the fire this week, with promoter Dan Goossen claiming a formal offer was submitted to Bob Arum at Top Rank that would guarantee Margarito/Top Rank $4 million, based on a 50-percent split of the prospective event's net revenues.
"Paul is always about the biggest and most compelling fights," Goossen said. "It's Margarito's turn this time to do his best to change the verdict. And Paul is saying 'You gave me the chance and now I'll be happy to give you the same opportunity.' (The offer) is quite simple.
"This is a major fight for our sport and one that would draw tremendous fan and media interest."
As things stand, Margarito is reportedly considering Zab Judah for his first WBA title defense later this year, while newly minted WBC champion Andre Berto is expected to meet recent De La Hoya victim Steve Forbes in September. Joshua Clottey joined the belted ranks and became IBF champ last week with a technical decision over Judah and has called for matches with both Berto and Margarito.
Still on the sidelines for now is Floyd Mayweather Jr., who abruptly retired and abdicated the WBC throne in early June after last defending his laurels with a TKO of Ricky Hatton in December 2007.
Williams doesn't expect that status to change anytime soon.
"Floyd's done," he said. "I like him and he's got skills, but he got out when it was time to get out. He knew what time it was and what was brewing out there. Is he coming back to fight an Antonio Margarito or a Paul Williams? No way. It's too hot for him now. He's not coming out and throwing 15 punches a round against me or Margarito when we're throwing 100 per round.
"He can move around a lot, but he can't duck all of them."
Unless something more lucrative develops, Williams will next appear in November for a mandatory defense against 30-year-old U.K. native Michael Jennings, who occupied slot No. 2 at welterweight behind Shane Mosley in the WBO's July rankings.
Jennings, now 33-1 with 16 KOs, has never fought on this side of the Atlantic.
"With (Jennings) being the mandatory, it's my job to go in there and punish him," Williams said.
"He's the mandatory contender and he's coming to try and get my belt, so that's all the motivation I need -- to try and remain a champion."
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No scheduled title fights affords a chance to look back at last week's pristine prediction slate.
Clottey's nine-round defeat of Judah highlighted the successful run, which was augmented by Juan Palacios' 10th-round stoppage of Omar Soto for the WBC's interim 105-pound title.
Vic Darchinyan starched Dimitri Kirilov in five rounds for the IBF junior bantamweight crown to make it 3-for-3, while Oscar Larios KO'd Marlon Aguilar in seven to round out the quartet.
Last week's picks: 4-0 Overall record: 8-4
Lyle Fitzsimmons is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He provides "In The Ring" commentary for Speeding Bullet Network (speedingbulletnetwork.com), is a periodic contributor to "The Drive with Dave Smith" on KLAA radio (am830klaa.com) and can be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.