Impressive Wins for Paul Williams and Cristobal Arreola

December 2, 2008

Paul "The Punisher" Williams continued his winning ways over the weekend, scoring an 8th Round TKO victory over former junior middleweight title-holder and veteran trial horse Verno Phillips in Ontario this past Saturday night. The former 147-lb. titlist Williams, was campaigning -- for the night at least -- at 154 pounds due to the lack of elite welterweights willing to step in the ring with him.

After sustaining a deep cut over his right eye from an accidental clash of heads in the first round, Williams methodically battered the game, but outclassed Phillips. Although Phillips did have his moments countering Williams during a competitive second round, by round six it was clear that Williams' onslaught of rapid-fire right jabs, straight lefts, hooks, and uppercuts was simply too much for the 39 year-old Phillips. Phillips came into the fight with a modest four-fight win streak, the most impressive being an upset victory over IBF junior middleweight champion Cory Spinks.

Although Williams’ nasty cut leaked blood into his eye and face throughout the fight, he still fought a very tactical match. The 27 year-old southpaw from South Carolina, aggressively stalked Phillips, peppering him with double and triple jabs, as well as thudding straight lefts and right hooks to the body.

The body attack was a deciding factor in the bout, as Phillips could be seen visibly wincing in pain when Williams dug right hook after right hook to the ribs. Following the 8th round, and on the advice of the ringside doctor, referee Jon Schorle halted the action, citing the amount of punishment that Phillips had absorbed. Williams became just the second man to stop Phillips.

After watching Williams convincingly workover a smart, tough fighter such as Verno Phillips, it becomes obvious why so many elite fighters from welterweight to super middleweight are in no hurry to get into the ring with him. Standing at a full 6'2" with a reach of 82", Williams presents a number of problems to any potential opponent, not the least of which being that he is a freakishly tall and rangy lefty, with superb conditioning, a solid chin and excellent recuperative powers. In addition, Williams employs a hybrid boxer-puncher style, routinely throwing well over 100 punches a round. More important, Williams is also very technically sound in the ring, rarely neglecting to vary his attack and launch shots to the body as well as head.

In 2009, it will be very interesting to see where Williams' management takes his career. With just one blemish on his record – a loss to Carlos Quintana which he later avenged – Williams is rightly viewed by educated fight fans as a rising star of the sport. Despite this positive perception, the Williams management team has struggled to find credible opponents willing to fight their charge. As a result, it has been their stated intention to campaign simultaneously at all four weight classes ranging from 147-168 pounds (welterweight, junior middleweight, middleweight, and super middleweight). Such a bold and potentially disastrous career move hasn't been undertaken since the great Henry Armstrong simultaneously competed and fought succesfully at featherweight, lightweight, and welterweight in the 1930's.

Although the merits of such a strategy has been debated by many, in the mind of this reporter, if anybody can do it, Williams is the one to make it work. Williams has a few things working in his favor. First off, he obviously has the physical attributes necessary to successfully employ such a plan. One can easily see him adding an additional 15 pounds of solid muscle mass to the 153 ½ pounds that he weighed in at for Saturday's fight, as he supposedly walks around at about 175 pounds between fights. Second, he seems to have the mental capacity and toughness to go through the rigorous training necessary to alter his body weight and composition. Finally, Williams has the speed, dexterity, and crowd-pleasing knockout power (27 KOs in 37 career fights) that could and should make him a very marketable marquee fighter, no matter what Bob Arum may have to say to the contrary.

Also on Saturday's card, American heavyweight contender Cristobal Arreola, of Riverside, California stopped fellow American Travis Walker by technical knockout in the third round of a wild slugfest. The fight began with the sculpted 6'4" Walker starting strong, as he came out immediately swinging and backing Arreola into his corner. In Round One, Walker easily outworked and outlanded Arreola. He snapped Arreola's head back more than once with solid left hooks and uppercuts, as Arreola seemed to be totally disinterested in engaging Walker. Arreola listlessly allowed himself to be backed up against the ropes and tagged repeatedly throughout the round.

The second round started off similarly, as Walker continued to take the fight to Arreola in a way that hadn't been seen in the normally ultra-aggressive Mexican-American's career. Thirty seconds into the round, Walker caught Arreola with a sharp 1-2 combination, then followed it up with another, prompting Arreola to drop to one knee.

The knockdown must have served as a wake up call to the 6'4" Arreola, as he was able to get up off the deck and begin to put his punches together in combination. With 1:05 to go in the second round, it was Walker who now found himself in trouble, and eventually hitting the canvas under a barrage of punches. Walker was dropped again before the end of the round, this time after a series of hellacious left hooks from Arreola. The two would continue to brawl, trading bombs until the bell sounded to end the round.

At the outset of Round 3, Walker still appeared to be on shaky legs. Sensing this, Arreola jumped on him, first driving him back with a sharp jab and straight right hand. Following Walker back to his corner, Arreola followed a wayward right hand with an on-the-button, picture-perfect left hook that deposited Walker on the seat of his trunks. Referee Jack Reiss had seen enough, and instantly stopped the fight. The official time of the stoppage was :13 of Round 3.

The elated Arreola thrust himself onto the second rope and soaked in the cheers of his boisterous fan base. Referee Reiss, meanwhile could be heard telling the vanquished Walker to be proud for he had just fought in a modern-day Hagler-Hearns. Although both bouts ended in the third stanza, this writer likened this slugfest to a modern-day George Foreman versus Ron Lyle, as at varying points during the fight, both men seemed to be out on their feet and ready to be knocked out at any moment.

With the win, Arreola improved to 26-0, with 23 of those wins via knockout. Despite his extensive amateur background, Arreola must still be considered a work in progress, as he will have to shore up some defensive deficiencies and correct his aversion to serious conditioning. However, despite these shortcomings, Arreola should be seen as a viable contender for any number of heavyweight title belts, as he possesses that all-important equalizer: knockout power.

At this point, what you see is what you get with Arreola – a bigger, more skilled, equally hard-hitting version of former heavyweight contender David Tua. While he still isn't ready to fight the likes of a Wlad or Vitali Klitschko, the fact that he possesses the kind of fan-pleasing, concussive power on full display Saturday night, will all but guarantee him a world title shot in the near future. Walker meanwhile, carried himself admirably and can be proud of his performance against an unbeaten fighter. Despite dropping to 28-2-1 with the loss, Walker certainly generated some fan interest, and as a result, ought to have positioned himself for some decent paydays and big fights in the future.

By Kweku Turkson
Staff Reporter for TheDailySportsHerald

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