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Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Martinez, Lara praying for Williams

By Dan Rafael


With Paul Williams hospitalized and awaiting Wednesday spinal surgery in Atlanta after being paralyzed from the waist down in a motorcycle accident Sunday morning, two of his most notable opponents, middleweight champion Sergio Martinez and junior middleweight contender Erislandy Lara, wanted Williams to know they are thinking of him and rooting for his recovery.

"Upon learning of Paul's injuries, I was deeply saddened," said Martinez, who fought Williams twice, losing a majority decision in a classic 2009 slugfest and then knocking him out in the second round of their rematch for the 2010 knockout of the year. "When you are in the ring with a real champion, you know it, and Paul Williams was a very great champion, in every sense of the word. Paul and his family are in my thoughts and prayers through this very difficult time."

After his November 2010 loss to Martinez, Williams returned to action in July 2011 to face Lara and won a controversial majority decision.

It was Lara's first big fight, and despite the controversial outcome, he has a lot of respect for Williams.

"All of my prayers are with Paul Williams and his family," Lara said. "Boxing is not important when it comes to these situations. I know Paul Williams is a soldier in the ring and I know he'll be a soldier outside the ring as he works to recover. I wish him a good recovery, and our prayers will be with him and his family."