Paul ‘The Punisher’ Williams is a former 2 division world champion who amassed a record of 41-2 with 27 KO’s. He was considered on of the most avoided fighters in boxing from 147-160 lbs due to his height and reach advantages, as well as his a high punch output. In May 2012, ahead of a scheduled title fight against Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, Williams got injured in a motorcycle accident that left him paralyzed. Just like the fighter that Williams was in his career, he is fighting back hard and giving people a positive message of how to deal with adversity.
I had a chance to speak to Paul Williams and discuss his outstanding boxing career and get his thoughts on some of his boxing highlights. Topics covered include how he started in boxing, his fights with Antonio Margarito and Winky Wright. Paul also talks of the comparisons between him and Tommy Hearns, his war with Sergio Martinez and his thoughts on the current boxing scene. Here is what Paul Williams had to say in part one of my interview.
Robert Brown: Can you tell us how you got started in boxing?
Paul Williams: My amateur coach was the bus driver and he was a friend of the family and he asked my mom if me and my older brother wanted to box. Going to gym, I just fell in love with it and I really fell in love with it because it was a sport where you have nobody to depend on but yourself in there. With the other sports you have to depend on somebody.
Robert Brown: You decided to take on the most avoided fighter in the sport, Antonio Margarito in 2007. Why did you want the fight against Margarito so badly?
Paul Williams: Because I know fighting Margarito was a means to make my mark. I knew since nobody wanted to fight him, everybody was saying he was the most avoided fighter and I’m like, “That reputation that he has, if I go out there and put my skills against his and beat him, what are they gonna say about that?” That’s why I started to call him out, I wanted the title.
I wanted to test my skills and see if I could be the top lion out there. When I got in the ring with him, that’s one of the nights I’ll never forget because it was like a dream come true. Fighting him was like me fighting the top lion out there. The fight proved to me that I can get in the ring with anybody and they can hit me with their best stuff, I’ll still fight through it and still make it a good fight.
Robert Brown: Your next big challenge was against former 154lb champion, Winky Wright. What are your memories of the fight with Winky Wright?
Paul Williams: We knew Winky Wright would have that good defense and all that. Like I was saying, the more I throw, I know I’m gonna get something in so I’m just gonna keep throwing until I get what I want to get in there. Eventually I got a whole lot done.
Robert Brown: Back then a lot of people were making comparisons between you and Tommy Hearns. Did that put extra pressure on you or did you like that pressure?
Paul Williams: No, Tommy Hearns was his own fighter. Me, I feel like the only thing we had the same was our height. Fighting style, I felt like I had my own style. I got a wonderful style like Floyd has his own style. My style is my own style, I could fight you on the outside and box you all day or I could get in there and grind it out with you. I liked that grinding out style.
First I was boxing, I was boxing Margarito but after that fight, I didn’t want to box anymore. I wanted to make it a knockdown drag out fight. I wanted to make rough fights because I wanted to go down in the Hall Of Fame as one of those guys that you had to beat to get him off.
Robert Brown: What are your thoughts about the classic fight you had with Sergio Martinez?
Paul Williams: I came out there not knowing anything about him, I was trying to figure his style out and he was busting me up. I was like three or four rounds down and I knew my gameplan was not working so I was like, “I’m gonna make it a knock down drag out fight. I’m gonna go toe to toe.” Then I started getting the best of him in the exchanges.
Of course the commentators are gonna say, “Martinez did this and that,” but if you turn the volume down and watch the fight again, you’ll see who’s landing the punches first. I loved that fight, it showed me that when I’m down and getting beat up, I can make adjustments and change the fight around.
Robert Brown: Your next fight was a controversial decision against Erislandy Lara. Do you still feel that you won that fight?
Paul Williams: Of course, I won that fight. The bigger guy like me, a top guy, you can’t hit a guy with three or four shots in a round and run and get away. You got to fight a guy, you got to take it from a champion, you can’t just get it like that.
In that fight I wanted to fight to see if I was ‘The Punisher,’ to see if I could get hit and take a punch. Was I gonna be gun shy? Was I gonna be scared of getting hit by a punch? That fight showed me that I still was ‘The Punisher.’ A boxing match is about who’s landing the more punches, not who gets the best shots in. It’s about the punch stats in boxing, boxing is a punch stat game, that’s what I was thought it was.
Robert Brown: Paul lets turn things to the current scene for a few minutes. Manny Pacquiao recently returned with a win. Do you want to see a Pacquiao-Mayweather fight happen next?
Paul Williams: Right now, I would not want to see it because I don’t want the king to lose because I wanted to be the one to see if I could knock the king off his throne. If he does lose, I’d rather see him fight somebody up and coming, a new young lion because one, two, three more fights, nobody can beat father time. Father time beats us all.
That’s why I think a new king has to come, some young boy has got to come and step up plate and throw more than one or two punches. They have to go in there and be the punisher and take it from the champion.