Quintana Scores the Upset Over Williams - Boxing
By Gabriel Montoya at ringside (Feb 11, 2008) Doghouse Boxing (Photo © German Villasenor)        
Before a raucous, sold-out crowd at the Pechanga Resort and Casino, Carlos Quintana 25-1 (19) upset WBO welterweight titleholder Paul ‘The Punisher’ Williams 33-1 (24) scoring a unanimous decision over twelve exciting rounds. It was a huge win for a fighter many had written off after a blowout loss to fellow Puerto Rican WBA welterweight titleholder Miguel Cotto. For Williams, a fighter being touted as ‘The Most Feared Fighter in the Sport’ by his handlers, the loss is a huge bump in the road for a fighter on the cusp of getting a big-name fight. “I feel a bit like Bill Belichick,” said Williams’ promoter
Dan Goossen after the fight. “Coming in, we had an undefeated fighter who I felt was the best out there, who I felt could beat anyone. Tonight wasn’t his night.”

From the outset, Quintana came out guns blazing, and Williams looked confused by the aggression and southpaw style he shares with Quintana. Moving side to side and sticking his right jab in Williams face and gut, Quintana took control early. The Punisher, a 6’3” welterweight known for throwing 100 punches a round, seemed thrown by his southpaw counterpart’s style, movement, and lack of fear. He would try and pick up the pace, but Quintana would score big with a 1-2 combo that rocked the former titlist. They’d trade at the end of the round, but Quintana would rock Williams with a right and take the round easily.

“I could see something was wrong after the first round,” Williams’ trainer, George Peterson, said afterwards. “Paul is a rhythm fighter. If he doesn’t get into his rhythm, there is no Paul. I tried to kick start him after the first. But it wasn’t happening.”

Quintana would keep up the pace after that, getting off his punches first and last. “We had a game plan that we stuck to,” said one of Quintana’s cornermen afterwards. “We prepared for the southpaw style, and we knew he would have trouble with ours.” Quintana kept taking the fight to the strangely lethargic Williams. Jabs to the body, right hooks, and straight lefts had Williams looking confused.

Before the start of the third, Quintana looked over at his promoter Lou DiBella, who was seated near me, and winked and smiled. His confidence was growing, and he was finding it easy to execute his game plan.

Williams would miss more than usual, and Quintana kept up his stick-and-move, side-to-side plan with great effect. A left from Quintana set Williams off, and he flurried to Quintana’s body landing a left up and downstairs.

Quintana slipped a lot of shots in the fourth as Williams looked to attack, but ended up following him around and tying up instead of effectively punching. From my vantage point, it seemed as if Williams barely had started to sweat in this round, a sign he may have had trouble making weight. A good right inside from Quintana as well as some good lefts won the round for Quintana.

Over the middle rounds, it was more of the same as Quintana’s punch output dropped a bit, and Williams tried to step up his game, but to no avail. Quintana seemed to be getting a bit tired with his stick-and-move style, but he still landed the better, heavier shots. Williams would land his best shot of the night in the sixth, a long left hand as Quintana paused in the corner, but it had little or no effect. A follow up 1-2 snapped Quintana out of his lethargy, and he returned fire with a left. In the 8th round, Quintana did brutal inside work on the taller man. Three big lefts in a row from Quintana rocked Williams, but while all other aspects of his game were failing, Williams still had his world-class chin to rely on. Williams would also suffer the first of two cuts over his eyes in this round. “The blood got in my eyes a bit, but it didn’t bother me,” said Williams. “I’ve been there before. It wasn’t a factor.”

In the championship rounds, Williams came out knowing he had to get the knockout, “I knew I needed a knockout but I felt a knockdown or two would get me a close win or the draw,” said Williams. Quintana, however, was having none of it, and landed a hard shot every time Williams got going. At this point, Williams was cut over both eyes from punches, but was still game. Quintana clearly tired but remained steadfast in his approach. It was clear his mindset was “I’ve come way too far to lose now.”

In the 12th, the sold-out crowd was on its feet as both men looked to close the show in style. Williams looked to air it out while Quintana stayed with his plan and boxed smart. The cut over Williams right eye was looking pretty bad from all the lefts it had absorbed, and Quintana made sure to add a few more down the stretch.

As the final bell sounded there was no question at all. With the exception of HBO’s unofficial judge Harold Lederman, we had all witnessed a huge upset. Lederman’s score of 115-113 for Williams is an insult to bad judging. I had the fight 9-3, at worst, for Quintana. It could have easily been scored 11-1 for the Puerto Rican.

Official scores were Michael Pernick 116-112, Tony Crebs 116-112 and Jose Cobian 115-113.

Afterwards, both camps were gracious in both victory and defeat. “We have tremendous respect for Paul Williams and his team,” said DiBella. “If they want a rematch, we will give it to them. They gave us the shot, and we will gladly give it back to them.”

“I take nothing away from Quintana,” said Williams, who had received nine stitches in one eye and three in the other after the fight. “It just wasn’t my night. I couldn’t find my rhythm. I have to give respect to Carlos. He took the belt from me. If you can’t accept losing, you can’t accept winning.”

An exhausted-looking Quintana would say, “Tonight, I am going to celebrate and enjoy the victory. I can’t say what my future plans will be. I am just going to enjoy this.”

For Williams, getting a fight before this was hard. Now without a belt and with a loss on his record, it will be even harder.

“First thing is we are going to rest, and let Paul recuperate. He has two cuts that need to heal. We’ve been training for five months. A rest is needed,” said George Peterson.

With this win, three of the four pieces of the welterweight title are held by Puerto Ricans. “It shows what great fighters our island produces,” said a Quintana camp member. Quintana is now a player in a crowded welterweight division. A rematch with Williams is most likely, with the other titleholders fighting each other or retired. Perhaps a fight with Andre Berto, who was featured on the same card, is a possibility as well.

Gabriel at: Coyotefeather@gmail.com

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