Paul Williams (36-1, 27 KOs) vs Ronald Wright (51-4-1, 25 KOs)
07.04.09 - By Mark Crowley: Paul Williams is ready to prove that he is the most feared fighter in boxing when he faces Ronald "Winky" Wright on April 11th at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. Most boxing experts believe Williams will have little trouble in the fight with Wright, who is now 37 years old and is entering the ring after a 21 month absence from the ring. While a brilliant defensively, Wright has little power and lacks aggression. Many believe that Williams has found the perfect choice for adding a marquee name to his resume and a nice payday without any risk. Or has he?
Paul Williams is the future of the middleweight division. Big words considering the likes of Kelly Pavlik and Arthur Abraham that call the middleweight division home. Williams is the next big thing - literally. Standing at 6'2" and with a reach of 82", he is a physical freak regardless of what weight class he fights in. To emphasize this point, his reach is only two inches shorter than former heavyweight champ Lennox Lewis. The former welterweight champion and current WBO junior middleweight champ has outstanding power in both hands and is a threat to end the fight at any moment. He holds a victories over former champions as Antonio Margarito, Carlos Quintana, and Verno Phillips. Unusual for his size, he is extremely active and throws more punches per round than most fighters in his weight class.
We all know about Wright, the former undisputed junior middleweight champion who holds victories over fighters such as Shane Mosley, Felix Trinidad, and Ike Quartey. He displays the brilliant defense that got him the tag of being a "cute" fighter, a fighter that makes his opponents look bad due to his slick defense and tremendous counter punching. He depends on his jab and straight left hand to pile up points on the way to decision wins. His hands are always high making him difficult to hit. Boring style, but as technically sound as you can get. He won't get you out of there, but he can frustrate you with his defense and lull you to sleep for 12 rounds. A style that has made him one of boxing's best (and most avoided) fighters of the past decade.
With the basics out of the way, we can look at the technical match up. It seems clear that Williams didn't lose any of his power moving up in weight after destroying Andy Kolle in his debut at middleweight in September. Why would he? He often entered the ring 15 pounds heavier than the contracted weight. He should focus on using his physical advantages to keep Wright in his shell and score points based on activity alone even if he is unable to land clean punches. His power and reach could stop Wright from setting up and fighting at a comfortable pace, something that is a key to Wright's success. He also will be the busier fighter. In 13 Williams fights tracked by CompuBox since 2001, he averaged 79.7 per round while the his opponents averaged about half of that total. Meanwhile, in 15 CompuBox tracked fights Wright has averaged 63.2 per round but his opponents averaged 64.2. (the above statistics in bold courtesy of Compubox) Every major advantage seems to be in Williams favor. Age, height, reach, volume, power. However, there are several factors to consider.
1. Technical flaws, or glaring weakness?
While Williams hasn't exactly been dominated in any fight, he does have some flaws. Williams seems to struggle when fighting on the inside, typical of many lanky fighters. When he is blinding you with punches on the outside he can't be touched. He gets huge shots in with little fear of being hit. However, when you have the ability to slip and get inside you can do good work. Quintana did a good job of landing hooks to the body and head when he was able to get inside and trade. Not exactly Wright's strength, but he has a big advantage here. He also makes a habit of throwing very wide, looping punches. This often leaves him out of position and off balance leaving him wide open to crisp counters. Wright hasn't faced anyone with the reach of Williams, or possibly the explosive type of power that Williams will bring to the table. Assuming Williams remains aggressive and continues his high volume of punching how will Wright generate offense without the ability to establish his trademark jab?
2. Fast, or just fast enough?
Williams also hasn't fought any quick/athletic defensive boxers of note. Nobody in the Wright/Mosley type appears on his record. I wonder if someone with Wright's experience and defensive skill will expose Williams as awkward and sloppy. If Quintana was able to make Williams look bad, why couldn't the one of the best defensive fighters in recent memory do the same? Williams doesn't have a win over an elite pure boxer at his weight class other than Quintana. I'm not sure Quintana should even be considered such a fighter. Williams was able to overwhelm the smaller men at welterweight, something he will not be able to do as he moves up the scales against larger men.
3. Same old song and stance.
Southpaw jinx? Wright and Williams are both southpaws. So was Carlos Quintana. This could either be a huge factor, or nothing at all. Four of William's last five fights have been against southpaws. Wright hasn't fought a southpaw since 1997, when he knocked out Adrian Dodson in the 6th round. Tough to gauge who will benefit from this, but watch out for an accidental headbutt to possibly open a cut on either fighter.
You can't ignore the fact that Wright hasn't fought in 21 months and now wants to take on the biggest challenge in the division. That length of inactivity could make Wright look old overnight. Will his speed and movement suffer? If so, it could be a very short evening for Wright. This will be only William's second fight at middleweight. How will he carry this weight for what is almost sure to be 12 rounds? Will it effect his volume?
Where to get the best bang for your buck.
Williams is most likely too big and too hungry to let Wright step up and stop him from being the big dog on the block. Then again, maybe not. One thing is almost a certain - this fight will go the distance. It might be a bit pricey - (I'm guessing this will be at least -250 for over 10.5 rounds, but no line is available at this time) but well worth it given probably outcome of this fight seeing the final bell.
If you feel the need to lay less chalk, Williams will probably remain at -200... a bit too high for my taste after. Wright at +160? Probably a little to short since I see almost no way he will KO Williams. The only plays that will have some value is Wright or Williams via decision, if Wright is around +300 or more, with Williams being slightly better than even money. I still feel that this fight is much closer than many experts believe. Given all of the factors, my money will be on Wright via points at around 3/1. However, a play on Williams via decision could also be given strong consideration.