Paul Williams was one of the most avoided fighters of his generation, a two-time WBO welterweight champ with a 41-2 record, and was feared not only for his imposing size and reach advantages, but also for his punch output.
Yet Williams was notorious for having difficulties with fellow southpaws, and his career was highlighted not only by notable wins but also by some less-than-stellar performances.
With Williams' career likely over after a motorcycle accident last weekend left him paralyzed from the waist down, we look back at The Punisher's most memorable moments.
Antonio Margarito (2007) Margarito was a feared welterweight champion making the eighth defense of his WBO title in July 2007 at Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. The Tijuana Tornado was the justifiable pick as a 6-to-5 favorite, but the Punisher ratcheted up the volume on his already high shot output, averaging more than 100 punches per round, smothering Margarito's work on the ropes and in the center of the ring.
Margarito fought in his own high-pressure style, but he couldn't keep up with the rangy and determined Williams, who secured a unanimous decision in a tight battle; press row scores were nearly split down the middle. One of his best wins.
Carlos Quintana 1 & 2 (2008) Following a seven-month spell of inactivity, Williams met Quintana, another awkward southpaw and a 6-to-1 underdog in February 2008 at Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula, Calif. The long layoff produced enough ring rust to apparently cause a problem for Williams as the Puerto Rican unloaded a bevy of hard and accurate shots, opening twin gashes over the eyes of Williams and sending him for emergency stitches following a unanimous decision loss.
Fast-forward four months for the rematch at Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut. This time Williams would forgo his boxing and instead attempt to overwhelm Quintana with volume and tenacity. Williams' vaunted punch output closed the show rather early, ending matters by way of TKO at the 2:15 mark of the first round, reclaiming his WBO welterweight title in the process.
Kermit Cintron (2010) Williams and Cintron met in May 2010 at Home Depot Center, and the odds of a furious fight were high as the Puerto Rican Cintron boasted an excellent knockout percentage and the Punisher was famous for firing punches from all angles.
A slugfest didn't pan out, however. Just as the action was picking up in Round 4, an awkward series of events led to the fighters' legs being tangled and somehow, Cintron was jettisoned from the ring. The fallen fighter immediately was surrounded by medical personnel and an obviously angry Cintron was carried out on a gurney.
The scene left a bad taste in the mouths of many fight fans as Williams was awarded a technical decision, which some felt was strange, but as it turned out, California's rule regarding a contest ending before four completed rounds is different from the rest of the country.
Sergio Martinez 1 & 2 (2009-10) Williams-Martinez 1, held at Atlantic City, was almost universally recognized as one of the best fights of 2009.
Both men traded knockdowns in the first round and exchanged brutalities throughout. Williams fought from his usual playbook, throwing at an extremely high clip. However, Martinez's accurate countering told the story of the fight as he threw nearly 300 fewer punches than the gangly Williams while landing at a very comparable clip. The meaningful blows seemed to be coming from the shorter Argentine southpaw. The two battled over 12 action-filled rounds. Williams was awarded yet another shady majority decision and one judge, Pierre Benoist, gave the Punisher the fight with an incredible 119-110 score. Thankfully, the rematch was signed less than one year later.
The rematch bore none of the ebb and flow that marked their classic first encounter. For the entire first round it seemed that Martinez knew that Williams would be open to a big counter and Martinez would speed along the process by continuing to walk backwards, coaxing the younger Williams to follow his lead. Finally, at 1:10 of Round 2, an overly aggressive Williams walked face first into a carefully laid trap as Martinez's plan came together in heart-stopping fashion.
With a single left hand, Williams was separated from consciousness the moment the punch connected and he plunged face first onto the awaiting canvas. A totally unnecessary 10 count was given as Williams lay motionless with his eyes wide open.
Erislandy Lara (2011) In a WBO middleweight title eliminator in Atlantic City, the No. 4-ranked Williams displayed tenacity if nothing else in a contest that many felt was unjustly tilted in his favor.
Williams ate nearly every hard left hand served up by southpaw Lara (who was unranked by the same organization at the time of the fight). At times it seemed that the former Cuban amateur champion couldn't miss with his laser-like precision, unloading vicious barrages of punches on the ever-charging Williams. To nearly all TV and ringside observers, this was a landslide victory for Lara. Somehow, when the judges' totals were tallied, Williams was the victor by majority decision.
Days later, the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board administered a judicial review and subsequently suspended all three judges indefinitely.