Over the course of 34 bouts, Japan’s Nobuhiro Ishida had suffered nearly as many losses as he had scored knockouts, and had a reputation for being feather-fisted entering his middleweight fight with power-punching southpaw James Kirkland in April.
A rangy, nearly 6-foot-2 man who was 35 years old at the time, Ishida was six months removed from a split-decision loss to Rigoberto Alvarez in October. His other setbacks had come against names few in the sport have heard.
Given all this, Ishida figured to be a walkover victory for Kirkland, who came in with a mark of 27-0 that included 24 knockouts, and had scored consecutive first- and second-round stoppages over Ahsandi Gibbs and Jhon Berrio within 13 days of each other in March.
But it was Ishida who emerged victorious, dropping Kirkland three times on the way to ending the fight after just 1:52 for only his eighth career knockout.
On Feb. 18, Ishida, now 36, will face yet another stiff test in southpaw Paul Williams, a 6-2, high-energy volume puncher who has twice won welterweight belts and has a record of 40-2, with 27 knockouts.
“For years Paul Williams has been considered one of the greatest pound-for-pound fighters out there. This is a big opportunity for Nobuhiro Ishida. He had a great win over James Kirkland, who everyone knows is a hot fighter again,” said Eric Gomez, matchmaker for Golden Boy Promotions.
“But Ishida came in and knocked him out in one round. He obviously wants to repeat that again. You know, he wants to make it here in the U.S., to fight the big names and to win. He has a tall task in facing Paul Williams and it’s going to be exciting.”
Williams-Ishida will be part of a Showtime-televised card from the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas, that will also feature IBF light heavyweight titleholder Tavoris Cloud and, on Showtime Extreme, heavyweight contender Chris Arreola
Arreola (34-2, 29 knockouts) will pursue his seventh straight win and his fifth knockout during that run against Eric Molina (18-1, 14 KOs), who will be after his 19th consecutive victory and his third straight stoppage.
Cloud (23-0, 19 KOs) will pursue the fourth defense of his belt against former WBA titleholder Gabriel Campillo (21-3-1, 8 KOs).