Paul Williams: The Punisher’s Manifesto

Paul Williams is angry. For the past few years, his callouts of the elite fighters from welterweight to middleweight have mostly fallen on deaf ears. Sure, the man nicknamed the Punisher has had his share of meaningful bouts (Antonio Margarito, Winky Wright, Kermit Cintron), but not the defining fight that would serve to make him […]

Paul Williams is angry. For the past few years, his callouts of the elite fighters from welterweight to middleweight have mostly fallen on deaf ears. Sure, the man nicknamed the Punisher has had his share of meaningful bouts (Antonio Margarito, Winky Wright, Kermit Cintron), but not the defining fight that would serve to make him a viable star.That opportunity may come this weekend, when he rematches Sergio Martinez for the linear middleweight title. Their fight last year was a sleeper hit, becoming recognized as one of the best fights of 2009. Now, there’s much more media attention on Paul Williams than ever before going into November 20. Is the Punisher ready to deliver? The last fight with Sergio Martinez was great. A lot of people were split on who won that fight. What do you plan to do to make sure you have an easier time?

Paul Williams: It really don’t matter. Inside or outside, we’re just going to work him that night. Either fight he loses. Because you throw a lot of punches, you are prone to getting countered and hit a lot yourself. Did you spend a considerable amount of time tightening up that defense?

Williams: Nah, we’re going to do the same thing in this fight we always do. No different at all. A win over Martinez, and you’d become the recognized middleweight champion of the world. Is that enough to make you stay at that weight?

Williams: I don’t know, but we’ll probably still move around. I kind of like going up and down. Moving in between welterweight and middleweight spans 13 pounds and you haven’t been at welter since 2008. Have you noticed any affects on your body, good or bad?

Williams: To me it’s not a big difference. The main thing though is I get to eat a little more at the higher weights. You and Mayweather both retain Al Haymon as an advisor. Have you explicitly tried to get contract in place to offer Floyd or any of the other big fighters?

Williams: We haven’t really been reaching out to them. We’re just taking it one fight at a time, and whatever happens, happens. They definitely know we want to fight them: Pacquiao, Mayweather, Mosley and the rest. We’ve been calling out all those guys on the websites. Some people have said even though you are a good fighter, you don’t have the charisma or “it factor” to really be a star. What do you think of that criticism?

Williams: Their entitled to their own opinion. I’ve been doing the biggest fights I can possibly get, and I put on a good show for everybody. People know who I am, it’s just the big star names haven’t given me a shot. Do you sense HBO backing you more now than before?

Williams: Yeah, as long as you keep winning the door will open. I still leave that to Al Haymon and George Peterson to get those big fights for me. But, I think once we take care of business on the 20th, the big names won’t be able to ignore me anymore. Run us through a typical Paul Williams training day.

Williams: Straight hard work with blood, sweat, and tears. You push it to the limit; go hard or go home. You can rest after the fight. I do about 25 miles in a week of roadwork. Sparring depends on how we feel, around about 30-40 rounds. Martinez has a real unique style, especially his movement. Was it difficult finding sparring partners that could emulate him?

Williams: Not really. But we really don’t care about how he moves. We were just looking to get some left-handed sparring partners. Let’s go back to last year briefly. When Kelly Pavlik pulled out of your fight last year, was there ever any serious talk of renegotiating?

Williams: Nah, he definitely forgot about me. They didn’t want that fight anyway. Two weeks later he fought somebody else. He didn’t want it like that with me. Before Mosley and Pacquiao, you were the first fighter to beat Antonio Margarito when he was being avoided and still a champion. Considering his hand wrap scandal, did you feel anything out of the ordinary about his punches?

Williams: Margarito got a solid punch, you’ll feel it. I didn’t feel anything strange, but I can’t say for sure if he did or didn’t use it with me. I just know he hit real hard. Does he rank as the hardest puncher you’ve ever faced?

Williams: Not the hardest, but it all depends on the type of punches. I’ve been hit harder. I’d probably say Walter Matthysse hit me with some good shots. But it was just like one good shot. A lot of people were very disappointed at the aborted ending of your last fight with Kermit Cintron. Do you think he quit, or was legitimately injured?

Williams: Man, he was trying to get out of that fight. He was a wrestler in school, he knows how to fall! Then I watched the fight. If he did say his side was hurt, I probably would’ve believed him. But he fell out of the ring, sat on the table, hit the floor, and then started holding the back of his head. His head never hit the floor! [snickers] C’mon, man! What boxers inspired you to get into the sport?

Williams: To be honest, I never really got into the boxers myself. My favorite is myself, and that’s not trying to be cocky. How about on the Hip-Hop side? Who are you listening to?

Williams: I like T.I., Gucci Mane, Yo Gotti, pretty much all my down south artists. What’s your prediction for the 20th?

Williams: However it plays out he’s done. If I go after him and it’s a short night, he gets the short end of the stick. If he gets out boxed over a long night, he got the long end of the stick. [laughs] Either way Paul Williams gets the victory. Let’s go back to Mayweather and Pacquiao for a minute. Let’s say you were able to fight both of them. Their styles are drastically different. How would you adjust your strategies for both?

Williams: Same Paul Williams, nothing different for either. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Your final thoughts on the fight?

Williams: I’m definitely putting on a big show on the 20th and coming home with those belts. That’s the only thing on my mind. I’m not taking Sergio Martinez for granted, but my confidence level and the way I feel, I’m gonna hurt this guy on Saturday. People, who are not my fans, still come check it out for a good fight.

Paul Williams vs. Sergio Martinez airs this Saturday (November) at 10:00 PM ET on HBO.

Ismael AbduSalaam is a senior staff writer for, and the creator of Beats, Boxing and Mayhem, a website specializing in boxing and Hip-Hop coverage.