Kermit Cintron (left), a former welterweight titleholder who was big for the division, looks undersized standing next to Paul Williams. Cintron and Williams fight in a junior middleweight bout on Saturday, but Williams' promoter says the towering southpaw can make welterweight where showdowns with Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao could take place. Photo / Jan Sanders/Goossen Tutor Promotions
Floyd Mayweather’s domination of Shane Mosley has created a worldwide buzz for one mega-fight: Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao.
However, promoter Dan Goossen would like fight fans to add Paul Williams to that super-bout equation if his fighter is victorious against Kermit Cintron this Saturday in Carson, Calif.
Mayweather and Pacuqiao are interchangeable as the sport’s top two boxers pound for pound and are also Nos. 1 and 2 in the welterweight division. Goossen wants fans to believe that Williams is the No. 3 welterweight. Not just because of his fighter’s accomplishments at 147 pounds, such as outboxing and outworking Antonio Margarito for a title in July of 2007, but because he believes that Williams is the only other welterweight that matters.
“There’s only three fighters at welterweight that haven’t been recycled,” Goossen told RingTV.com. “Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao and Paul Williams. All the other contenders have had their shot at the top and have been knocked back down, so there’s no need for us to see (Joshua) Clottey or Margarito or (Miguel) Cotto or Mosley fight either Pacquiao or Mayweather.
“Fans have already seen that. We don’t want to see our stars in the same movies over and over again. We want new stars and we want a new movie.”
Goossen believes that Williams (38-1, 27 knockouts) is the action hero the welterweight division and the sport needs.
Anyone who watched the 12-round barnburner Williams had with newly crowned middleweight champ Sergio Martinez in December might agree with Goossen. But here’s the problem with the Southern California promoter’s notion that his fighter belongs in the elite welterweight mix: Williams hasn’t fought at 147 pounds in almost two years.
The fight with Cintron (32-2-1, 28 KOs), which takes place at the Home Depot Center and will be televised on HBO, takes place in the junior middleweight division.
His majority decision victory over Martinez took place in the middleweight division, as did his previous bout against Winky Wright, who he dominated over 12 rounds.
Williams’ last fight at welterweight took place in June of 2008, when he blasted Carlos Quintana out in the first round of their rematch to regain the 147-pound belt he lost to the crafty southpaw four months earlier. He jumped to middleweight after the Quintana rematch, where he scored a first-round KO of journeyman Andrew Kolle. Williams followed that eye-opening outing with an impressive eighth-round stoppage of seasoned contender Verno Phillips in a junior middleweight bout.
More than a few fans and members of the media doubt whether he can still make welterweight, and it’s not just because of his recent history. Williams, who is listed at 6-foot-1 (185 cm) but is probably closer to 6-foot-3, is huge. The gangly southpaw has the bone structure of a light heavyweight and the wingspan (82 inches, 208 cm) of a heavyweight. His first 25 pro bouts took place between 148 and 160 pounds.
However, Goossen and the fighter’s trainer and father figure George Peterson are adamant in their belief that Williams can make 147 pounds.
“We wanted this fight to be at welterweight,” Goossen said. “We wanted Paul to fight a 147-pound titleholder or a contender who would earn him an immediate shot at a welterweight title. However, we couldn’t get any welterweights to bite. By the time we settled on Cintron it was too close to the fight for Paul to make to 147 pounds, and since both are comfortable at 154 pounds, that’s the weight we made it at.”
Goossen is aware that the fact Williams needs a certain amount of time to safely make 147 pounds is part of the reason many are skeptical that the 28-year-old Georgian is a natural welterweight. However, he believes that doubt will create more interest when Williams does return to the division.
“The skepticism doesn’t bother us,” Goossen said. “We think part of the story of Paul’s next fight will be him going down to 147 pounds. Everyone will question it.”
Peterson welcomes the questions.
“Anyone who doesn’t think Paul can make the weight is invited to join us for breakfast the day of the weigh-in,” he said.
However, if Williams can’t get a top-rated welterweight to agree to fight him, there won’t be a 147-pound limit for his next bout. He will continue to fight in the divisions where the elite fighters are willing to face him. Right now that’s junior middleweight, where Cintron and undefeated beltholder Sergiy Dzinziruk reside, and middleweight, where a rematch with Martinez could take place.
Peterson knows that a lot of the skepticism of Williams’ ability to make welterweight comes from the fact that he hasn’t been willing to drop down for non-elite fighters, but he doesn’t care.
“That doesn’t move us,” he said. “We don’t see a reason to come down for just anyone. We want the best. We can’t gain anything from fighting just any 147-pound body. We can gain something from fighting Pacquiao or Mayweather.”
Peterson isn’t shy about his opinion on how his young fighter would fare against the pound-for-pound duo.
“I absolutely think Paul can beat Mayweather and Pacquiao,” he said. “Pacquiao’s so small he can only hit Paul in the private area, and the secret to beating Mayweather is real simple — make him fight.”
Williams, an aggressive pressure fighter who often averages 100 punches per round, is very good at making his opponents fight. However, his tendency to brawl almost cost him his fight with Martinez, who many observers believe deserved the decision or at the very least a draw.
“I try to hold him back but Paul is a fighter,” Peterson said. “He wants to go to war. There are times I tell him not to do anything stupid before he goes out for a round, like the last round versus Wright. But sometimes he’ll abandon what I’ve taught him over the years. He’s a warrior. He just wants to fight, and sometimes I got to let him go and bang.”
Peterson believes there will be a lot of banging going on in Saturday’s fight with Cintron.
“It’s going to be a good fight,” he said. “Fans are going to see some blood with this fight. Some of the big fights they’ve in recent weeks haven’t been fights at all. There wasn’t a nose bleed, not a swollen eye. But Saturday, they’re going to get a fight.”
The fighters don’t disagree with Peterson.
“I did everything in the gym that I need to do to win this fight,” said Cintron, who held Martinez to a draw in a 154-pound bout last February. “No excuses. I’m ready. Expect a war. Fans are going to see a hell of a fight.”
Williams says fans can expect him to live up to his “Punisher” nickname on Saturday.
“I respect (Cintron) as a man, but when we get in the ring, I’m going to put a hurt on him,” he said. “He’s going have to fight me like I’m a dog with rabies. I don’t have any sympathy for my opponents.
“I’m going to try to break his jaw, break his ribs. I’m going to try to kill him.”
If looks could kill, the police of Sherman Oaks, Calif., would have been drawing chalk lines around the bodies of the two fighters shortly after their intense stare down Wednesday at the final press conference for their fight.
There’s little doubt that Williams and Cintron will deliver the kind of action-packed fight that fans had hoped to see with Mayweather-Mosley.
However, whether or not Williams emerges victorious, fans will doubt his ability to be a major player at welterweight until he actually makes 147 pounds.