Margarito vs. Williams: A Can’t Miss, Welterweight Championship Fight

By Francis Walker
Updated: July 2, 2007

NEW YORK — In 2007, we’ve already had a few great fights: Cotto vs. Judah, Marquez vs. Vazquez, and Hatton vs.Castillo. On July 14, unbeaten, No. 1-ranked mandatory challenger Paul Williams (32-0, 24 KOs) will face Antonio Margarito (34-4, 24 KOs) for his WBO welterweight championship at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Ca. Margarito vs. Williams is a highly anticipated, must-see welterweight championship fight.

HBO will televise “Margarito vs. Williams: Pride ‘N Punishment” as part of a split-site tripleheader beginning at 9 pm ET (6 pm PT). The remaining two bouts will occur at an already sold out Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City as Arturo Gatti returns to the building he made famous, as he will battle Alfonso Gomez in a 10-round junior welterweight bout.

Plus, a pair of Margarito and Williams knockout victims will square-off for a world championship. Kermit Cintron defends his IBF welterweight title against Walter Dario Matthysse .

The promotion of Margarito vs. Williams is built around the theme “Pride ‘N Punishment.” This fight nearly did not come off, as Margarito was originally offered an opportunity to fight WBA welterweight champion Miguel Cotto.

Margarito showed a lot of pride in turning down a big-money fight with Cotto, who instead knocked out Zab Judah on June 9, at Madison Square Garden on the eve of the Puerto Rican Day Parade.

The 29 year-old Margarito, of Tijuana did not want to vacate his WBO title by side-stepping Williams, although he would have made more money fighting Cotto. Turning down Cotto proved to be a win-win for boxing, as Williams, 25, Augusta, Ga., known as “The Punisher” has an opportunity to prove whether he truly belongs at the top of the welterweight class.

“Everybody says that Margarito is the most feared and I want that reputation,” Williams said during a recent conference call. “I understand the man is a champion, but there is new blood in the sport and it is my time. I feel like it is my time to shine.”

“Here in Puerto Rico, training camp is going real good. I am doing all my exercises and stuff. I am just anxious to get in the ring on July 14 and prove to the world that I deserve to be a world champion.”

At 6-foot-1, Williams is a very tall welterweight similar to the way Diego Corrales, at 5-foot-10 was a tall lightweight fighter at one point. Williams has an 82-inch reach and is a southpaw (left-handed) fighter. Williams throws a lot of punches and has pretty good punching power.

In fact, Williams, who hasn’t fought since November, hasn’t fought the same level of opposition that Margarito has faced. One of Williams’ biggest victories occurred in August 2006 when he knocked out former WBA junior welterweight champion Sharmba Mitchell in the fourth round. Williams said that Matthysse , who will challenge Cintron for the IBF welterweight title, was his toughest opponent to date.

“Matthysse had power in both hands,” Williams said. “You had to be ready every minute of the fight because any time he hits you, he could take you out. Of course, I train myself for that and that is why I am ready for Margarito.”

I know he has power in both hands. I am going to be on my P’s and Q’s and do what I do best and that is punish people.”

Margarito may have four losses on his record, but he has never been knocked out. His first three losses occurred in his first 12 professional fights. The combined record of Margarito’s opponents in those losses was 34-3.

Margarito has fought a series of former world title challengers and contenders including: Cintron, David Kamau, Frankie Randall, Antonio Diaz, Andrew Lewis, Hercules Kyvelos, Joshua Clottey, and hasn’t lost since September 2004 when his rematch with Daniel Santos was stopped in the 10th round. Margarito suffered a cut from an accidental headbutt and lost a close technical decision.

“I do not feel that this is the most difficult opponent I have faced,” Margarito said of his fight with Williams. “I have faced tough opponents with more experience and tougher fighters.”

“I am well prepared for this fight and well prepared for Paul. I will be in there ready for everything he has to give. I am going to give my best too. I feel very confident I am going to be victorious in this fight.”