There’s nothing like a great fight between two top level fighters. Boxing, is the art of self defense. The art of hitting without being hit. Saturday night in Atlantic City NJ, fans were treated to a truly great match up between two excellent boxers of nearly equal skill in American Jr. Middleweight phenomenon, Paul “The Punisher” Williams (38-1, 27 KO’s) versus Argentine WBC interim titlist, Sergio Martinez (44-2-2, 24 KO’s) in a non-title bout. Since this was a contest between two ‘titlists’ fighting as Jr. Middleweightswhy wouldn’t this be a title fight? What a waste. What’s the point of all these titles if you can’t UNIFY them? This was a fantastic fight and after 12 solid rounds of action, one Official Judge scored it 119-110 for Williams in a fight that saw Martinez landing the cleaner punches in a majority of the rounds.
We hear that no one wants to fight Paul Williams and its obvious why that might be true. How many 154 pounders stand at six-feet, two and have an 82 inch reach! Williams is long armed and dangerous, as he can throw a hundred punches a round with the tenacity of a Gatling machine gun. He’s not just a boxer, he’s a “fighter.” But Williams, like Goliath before him, has weaknesses and Carlos Quintana drew the map of where to find them back when he out boxed Williams to a win in February of 2008. Of course Williams got his redemption with a furious first round knockout in their rematch as he brawled right over Quintana who didn’t have a chance to breathe. Surely Sergio Martinez saw the tapes.
Sergio Martinez is an excellent boxer with decent power and crafty skills, as evidenced by his impressive win over Kermit Cintron last February, which was marred by scandalous officiating. Martinez not only out boxed Cintron all night but he scored a knockout. But some strange officiating allowed the fight to continue, where the shocked Martinez went on to punctuate his dominance and easily win a Unanimous Decision, even after losing a point on some questionable call. The Judges scored the fight a Draw, robbing Martinez of his obvious victory. Aside from the official historical record, the truth is that Martinez won by knockout after Cintron didn’t beat the count.
At the start of Williams vs. Martinez , Williams was the aggressor, applying pressure and forcing Martinez backwards. At one point Williams landed a left that saw an unbalanced Martinez go down. Martinez got up quickly and with subtle cunning, took over the momentum with some crisp right hand punches that were punishing Paul Williams, who went down from a Martinez right hook. After Williams got up, Martinez continued to land the better punches to win the round where both men visited the canvas, 10-9.
Williams was aggressive and threw more but Martinez was more effective with less volume. When the bell sounded to end the first round, it was clear that this was going to be all out WAR.
This fight was reminiscent of the first Quintana fight, only Martinez was faster, sneakier and proved to be the toughest opponent Williams had ever faced. There were rounds where Williams missed continuously, while Martinez kept landing his right hooks and sneaky lefts to the body. Martinez always remembered to throw to the body and his ability to time Williams enabled him much success. Williams showed a hell of a beard, absorbing right hooks, uppercuts, the works and he never stopped coming forward with his jab, which was his most effective weapon Saturday.
In the first five rounds, Martinez was able to avoid most of Williams’ shots while delivering his own, making it look easy in spots. Williams made smart adjustments and shifted his intensity in round five and took over the momentum for a while, successfully keeping Martinez at the end of his long jab. Williams landed a flush shot into Martinez chest that saw him lose some steam in the middle rounds and Williams made him pay, easily winning rounds five through seven by outworking the slowing Martinez .
By the eighth round, both men were tired to a degree but Martinez was still finding ways to land body shots and head shots while making Williams miss. And though Martinez looked winded, he counter punched cleanly and accounted for the more impressive offense. In many of the later rounds, Williams was busier but Martinez was more effective in terms of hitting without being hit back.
In the closing rounds, Williams worked hard but still found Martinez an elusive target. Throughout the fight, Martinez kept his hands down low to lure Williams in, where Martinez ’ was able to land right hands at a high percentage. Paul Williams was a bloody mess in the late rounds, with blood flowing from his mouth and cuts over both eyes but he did all he could to finish strong. Martinez ’ face was fairly clean, save for the swelling over his left eye, but no cuts.
This was one of the best fights I’ve seen all year and it was a shame that someone had to lose but that someone, in my opinion, was Paul Williams, who was hit with clean shots consistently from his shorter opponent. Williams was also unable to hurt Martinez , other than tiring him out in the late rounds.
In the end, both men were still standing and so it was off to the Twilight Zone known as the Official Scores: Judge Julie Lederman had it 114-114 a Draw. Judge Lynne Carter had it 115-113 for Williams. Judge Pierre Benoist of New Jersey scored it 119-110 for Williams. Benoist’s scorecard had Martinez win only one round out of 12?
It’s a damn shame that these fighters work so hard to deliver a winning performance, only to be deemed the loser by a ridiculous margin from a Judge of questionable competence. Pierre Benoist’s 119-110 score is simply unacceptable and unbelievable in a fight that saw both men score knockdowns in the first round in a fight full of ebbs and flows that went 12 hard rounds.
Congratulations to both Paul Williams and Sergio Martinez for a hell of a fight! This fight is a top contender for “fight of the year” honors. I can see how it may have been close on some peoples cards but Martinez was the more effective aggressor and had a slicker defense that saw Williams missing more than he landed. Williams’ constant pressure wasn’t always effective but his jab and durability were the most impressive parts of his performance.
My Final Opinions
A rematch would be great and these two could make for a tremendous rivalry and rivalries are great for boxing. Something has to be done about all the crooked scoring going on lately. Without honest, accountable Officials, boxing has no credibility. Malignaggi vs. Diaz, Funeka vs. Guzman, Campbell vs. Bradley and it just don’t stop. How do we stay loyal to a sport that isn’t honest? Judge Pierre Benoist’s bogus scoring further sullied boxing’s image Saturday night and reinforces the notion that there’s no integrity left in our sport. Judge Benoist should’ve left the venue in handcuffs. It’s disgraceful that he will not be held to account for his unexplainable scorecard.