Boxing


Paul Williams And Antonio Margarito - Will They Ever Fight Again?

Antonio Margaritoby James Slater - If things were simple and easy in the sport of boxing, welterweights Paul Williams and Antonio Margarito would have fought at least once more by now. That way, the paying fans would know, one way or the other, which one of the two great fighters is the best in the world today at 147-pounds. Alas, as we all know, nothing is simple or easy in our sport, and the two top welterweights appear headed in completely differing directions.

Williams, who has his second fight above welterweight this year, against Verno Phillips at 154-pounds on Saturday night, claims no-one wants to fight him at 147. So he has moved up as far as middleweight in search of big, meaningful and well paying fights. As we know, "The Punisher" out-pointed Margarito back in July of last year. As fine a win as that was for the lanky lefty, "Tony" bounced back and upset the all-conquering Miguel Cotto in the 11th round of a sensational battle a year after he'd lost to Williams. This result, along with the one that saw Williams lose to Carlos Quintana a few months before, made it a hard task for the fans to name the world's best welterweight. Was it Williams, or was it Margarito?

We'd know by now, of course, if they'd (the promoters) done the sensible thing and matched the two biggest stars of the 147-pound weight class together for a rematch the fans have been hoping for ever since July 14th, 2007. It's quite ironic that both Williams and Margarito have been given the tag of the most feared/avoided fighter in boxing. It seems the only opponent they (or at least the guys who manage/promote/look after them) could be at all accused of avoiding is each other!

Okay, neither Williams nor Margarito are likely to be actually scared of one another - there beats too fiercely proud a fighting heart inside both men for that - but the fact cannot be denied that a fight that could happen, should happen and NEEDS to happen, is not happening. Somebody somewhere is to blame, surely? Ever since his quite awesome 1st round KO revenge win over Quintana, Williams has been calling out any big name he can. All the way from Margarito at 147, De La Hoya and Mayweather at 154 and Kelly Pavlik at 160, the 6'1" southpaw has been issuing challenges. The silence he and his promoter Dan Goossen claim to have gotten back in response is, they say, baffling. Literally millions of dollars are on the table, cries Goossen, yet no fighter is willing to come and get them.

So Williams, a talent who appears more and more like a fighter too good (and dangerous) for his own good, takes on the likes of Verno Phillips. Phillips is a good, brave fighter, as he's shown by taking the fight. But the 38-year-old isn't a guy with a whole hell of a lot of other options; not in which to make good money anyway. So it's tough, somewhat-needy-of-a-big-fight guys like him, that Williams winds up facing. And Margarito? - he will take on the ageing Shane Mosley next - another fighter who was aching for a big fight - before going into a financially rewarding return with Cotto.

But will the two rivals for the title of best welterweight in the world ever meet again? Sadly, it seems unlikely. Williams has gone on record as saying he sees no point in sticking around at 147, not while the top names there are avoiding him. So he fights Phillips at 154 and looks set to stay in the higher weight classes. Unless "Tony," a big welterweight who could (and indeed has) go up a division or two also, the two's paths do not look likely to ever cross again.

This is a damn shame, even more so when one considers how really necessary a Williams-Margarito II (and maybe even a III) is. Why can't things be easier in our otherwise great sport!?

Article posted on 28.11.2008



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