Trainer George Peterson - "Kelly Pavlik Will Be Paul Williams' Biggest Fight. And His Easiest!"
Exclusive Interview by James Slater - Now that the eagerly anticipated Kelly Pavlik-Paul Williams middleweight title fight is back on, fans everywhere are once again debating who will win on December 5th. Although he is naturally bound to be biased, George Peterson feels the man having his hand raised at The Boardwalk Hall will be his fighter Paul Williams, 37-1(27).
Article posted on 17.10.2009
The trainer of the 6'1" southpaw who has already collected world titles at welterweight and light-middleweight very kindly gave me the following interview earlier today. Here is what George had to say in answer to my questions:
James Slater: I know this must be a busy time for you, George. But these interviews go down great with the fans who read Eastside Boxing. Can I ask you first, were you relieved when the Williams-Pavlik fight was announced as being back on?
George Peterson: Yes, because it had been pending for so long, and it was time to address it. You know, you're either going to do the fight or you're not - so why prolong it? People really want to see this fight, so it makes no sense not to give them what they want. These guys [pro fighters] are in the entertainment business, at the end of the day; that's what it's all about..
You see, the thing is, Paul came along at the wrong time. Back in the days of Hearns, Hagler, Leonard and Duran, those guys didn't ever care who they fought; they just fought! Today, the so-called top guys only fight guys they know they can beat. But that's not Paul - he'll go up and down to get the fights he wants, as he's proven in the past a number of times. Paul can still make welterweight - his weight yesterday was 155 and a-half. So he can still make 147 no problem. But who would he get to fight him at welterweight? We've tried that before and nobody wanted to know. Let me ask you, when these so-called top guys win, when do you ever hear them call out Paul Williams? It never happens. You mention Paul and they'll tell you quick, "No."
J.S: Most people would say this fight with Kelly Pavlik is Paul's biggest fight to date - even though he's faced some top-notch guys like Antonio Margarito and Winky Wright. Do you agree?
G.P: I think this is his biggest fight, but also his easiest fight.
J.S: Wow. A lot of fans would ask you why you would make such a bold statement. Is it simply based on styles? You feel Paul's style will deal with Pavlik easily?
G.P: It's based on styles, yes. But at the same time, I don't see all that much from Kelly Pavlik. They say he's this great puncher who has stopped all these fighters, but - he couldn't KO [Marco Antonio] Rubio. He couldn't KO a 44-year-old man [Bernard Hopkins]. Rubio quit against Pavlik. I'm not convinced about Pavlik being this huge puncher. A better question is, can Pavlik take Paul's power? Paul has stopped 27 guys himself. Can Pavlik handle Paul's punches?
J.S: I was going to ask you if you think this is Paul's most dangerous fight yet, but you obviously don't think so, George!
G.P: No way. He's been in with guys who can punch before, and guys who really can hit - like Walter Matthysse. He was 25-0(24) at the time, and Paul will tell you today, that's the hardest he's ever been hit. But he weathered that storm. These people who tell you Pavlik will punch too hard, they have to worry about if he can take Paul's punching power, that's what they've got to be concerned about.
J.S: It's interesting that you mentioned the great era of Hagler, Leonard, Hearns and Duran. Does Paul look up to those guys? Do they inspire him?
G.P: Well, he has the same approach as those guys. He has the same gumption, the same mentality. You know, Paul can't understand why other fighters aren't the same as him, with the same approach as he has. That's the problem; all these guys today, they are business men instead of fighters. They will never face fighters other than ones they know they can beat. That's why I sometimes tell Paul to box in fights, and not to go for the KO we all know he can get - because why KO guys when nobody will fight him now as it is? Who today wants to fight Paul?
J.S: Can I ask you what weight you plan Paul to enter the ring at come fight night on December 5th?
G.P: We will try for 157. Paul can't get any higher.
J.S: And will Paul be strong and just as fast at that weight? I know he's fought at middleweight before.
G.P: No doubt about it, he will be strong and he will be fast. This will be another fight like the Winky Wright fight.
J.S: By that do you mean you think the fight will go the distance?
G.P: No, Paul will get him out of there. He'll step to him and sit down on his punches.
J.S: So you mean the Pavlik fight will be one-sided, as was the Wright fight?
G.P: Whatever Pavlik tries, he won't have enough to deal with Paul Williams. Paul has too many different ways of fighting. Pavlik won't be able to cope.
J.S: What do you say to those people who say if Pavlik can get inside and make it his fight and push Paul back, like he did against Jermain Taylor, he will win?
G.P: No way. Jermain Taylor can't fight every minute of every round like Paul can, and he can't throw more punches in the 11th and 12th rounds than he does in the early rounds like Paul can. That's a big difference. And you're right to bring that up; Paul can fight on the inside very well. So if that's what they're looking for [ winning the battle on inside] they'll have a tough night!
J.S: Do you feel that if Paul wins this fight, and if he especially does so in a dominant and dramatic way, that he will be up in the stratosphere, so to speak? Will Paul become the big star he wants to be?
G.P: Well, do you think it's time, James?
J.S: I do, yes.
G.P: The thing is, there will be no excuses after Paul beats Pavlik. Nobody will be able to say the guy had bronchitis or that he was too old. There will be nothing anybody can say after Paul wins this fight.
J.S: It's been great speaking with you, George. For my final question, assuming he does win in December, will Paul stay at 160, or will he move back down?
G.P: He'll do whatever it takes to get the fights; just like he's doing now. The man has to eat, right? The man has to get fights. See, there are pound-for-pound fighters right now who are ranked higher than Paul, that won't go anywhere near him. I don't think that's right. Do you?
J.S: Well, I want tot thank you for the interview, George. Best wishes for the big fight on December 5th.
G.P: Okay, thank you, James.
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