Paul Williams: “It’s about time to come to the light”
INTERVIEW By Gabriel Montoya (July 13, 2007) Doghouse Boxing (Photo © German Villasenor)
At the Ring Generals gym in L.A., away from the bright lights that currently shine on welterweight champion Antonio Margarito, young challenger Paul ‘The Punisher’ Williams puts the final touches on a training camp that has prepared him for the biggest moment of his life. I had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Williams after one of his final preparation sessions late Tuesday night.

GM: Good evening Paul. Thanks for taking time out to talk. So how has training camp gone for you?

PW: Training camp was real good out there in Puerto Rico. I couldn’t ask for no more but to be training out there. That step was so good and now training camp is done. It’s time to fight now.

GM: So you’re pretty much winding down camp, just fine tuning at this point?

Oh yes sir. We just waiting now. We ain’t worrying about nothing. Just waiting to get in the ring July 14th.

GM: Looking at your last few fights, this appears to be a huge step up in competition for you. Do you feel those other fights prepared you for this? How prepared for this moment?

I feel real prepared. I look at every fight like a championship fight. This ain’t nothing but one more fight I gotta do. I’m not taking it lightly because I understand the magnitude of the fight, fighting for the world title. But I’m going to go out there and do my normal routine.

GM: Has this fight set in? The magnitude of this fight?

Not yet. I guess the night of the fight, at the event it’ll set in. But I can deal with that. No problem at all for me to adapt to it.

GM: There has been a lot of press on Margarito out here leading into the fight. He’s from Tijuana but this is essentially his hometown. But it seems you have been under wraps a bit. There were reports you missed your media workout in Puerto Rico. Has that been by design? Did you guys plan to come in under the radar until the moment?

Yes, sir. I mean I kind of like that. Being low-key. When I come out, I come out blazing so people are like ‘who’s this kid, where’d he come from?’. I like that. I like when they underestimate me, when they try to keep me in the dark. What grows in the dark will come to the light. It’s about time to come to the light now.

GM: Lots been made of the sparring sessions you two had awhile back. How much can you learn from sparring a guy? They do hold back and not show you everything.

PW: You can learn the basics of what kind of style they got by being in the ring with them. Once you been in the ring with them you can learn certain stuff they can do. Certain stuff they can’t do. That plays out in terms of getting an advantage.

GM: In terms of what kind of power they have, can you find that out?

You can basically figure out their power. They won’t show you all of their power. They basically show you what kind of style they are comfortable with and what kind of style they aren’t comfortable with. In other words, you have to be in there then you can adapt to how they fight and then you have a pretty good idea.

GM: Did you look at the session like you were his sparring partner or were just another fighter getting work?

I was just coming in getting work. We were just trying to get in shape ourselves. We had a fight coming up at the time. That was a just a chance to get in shape and get paid for it. You know being in there with him I know certain stuff he can’t deal with. I seen certain stuff and I have confidence being in there with a world champion. He got in some good shots and I got in some good shots. I know when we don’t have heavy clothes on, no headgear and 8-10 ounce gloves on everything will be a lot faster.

GM: You both have a similar mentality, you both come forward, but you have a huge size advantage, an 82 inch reach, are you going to try and use that more or are you going to fight inside?

Oh yes. Oh absolutely. This fight right here. They are going to see a whole lot that haven’t been seen before. The magnitude of the fight, I know I have to do certain stuff different from other performances [of mine]. I’ve gotta use all my advantages to win the fight. I have to fight a smart, calm fight. Let my rhythm come to me. Don’t try and go out there and force things to happen. Just be relaxed in there and everything will be just fine.

GM: Just fight round by round?

Oh yes. That’s what it is.

GM: Do you worry about the knockout? Do you look for the knockout?

No, sir. That was just to hype, stir the fight up. I don’t worry about a knockout. When you start looking for a knock out And all that, you get carried and trying to knock somebody out then you end up getting knocked out. If the knockout come it comes. I’m just going to go through my normal routine. I’m just going to go in there and let my hands go and try and hurt this guy, get him up out there. If I get the knockout that’s good. If not, then it’s going to be a good 12 round fight. He is going to wish that I caught him early cause that will be more hard punches landed on him. That’s not me being cocky or arrogant. That’s just my confidence level, sir.

GM: Why do think this fight will be your coming out party?

Every fight is my coming out party. But this is different because after this I will be the champion. Guys that looked past me, ‘Oh I don’t want to fight him’. They are going to have to come to me.

GM: Let me be more specific. There are a lot of doubters out there. A lot of guys that say you are too green, you haven’t fought the stiffest competition, that Margarito has been around too long. What about you is different that will give you the ability to change all those minds?

When I first started, my trainer took me around to all these gyms to spar nothing but champions. So I learned through those experiences and I was able to hold my own with those champions. From heavyweight on down to welterweights. To me it doesn’t matter who the guy is. When you get in there that is going to control the fight. Who is going to get off first and most? On the 28th, it will be 8 years (he has been fighting) so I don’t think I am green at all just cause he is champion or he have more whatever. That plays into them guys mind cause they can’t see past the big picture. They don’t see my ability. That’s what that is. They just want me to lose because they don’t want to face me. That’s what I have to say to that.

GM: I know a lot of guys don’t like to look beyond a fight but should you win Saturday, whom would you like to fight next?

(with zero hesitation) I would like to fight Cotto.

GM: Really?

Oh yeah.

GM: You might find Cotto hard to find should you win.

(laughs) Yeah I know I might. The more you keep demanding, the more you call someone out and the public get behind you, you know what I’m saying, if you are a champion you should fight the number one contenders or the guy making the most noise. I want to get all the belts so that there is one champion in this weight class.

GM: Thank you, Paul, for taking the time out to talk to me.

No problem. Anytime, sir.

GM: Good luck Saturday night.

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