Dan Rafael: Paul Williams

Angulo-Lara a battle of styles

June, 6, 2013

Which do you like? A fighter with excellent power, constant aggression and a brawling style, or somebody with smooth technical skills and speed who practices the art of the sweet science?

Whichever it is, you'll have somebody to be interested in when Alfredo "Perro" Angulo, the puncher/brawler from Mexico, squares off with Erislandy Lara, the southpaw product of the famed Cuban national team for which he won a world amateur title.

Angulo, 30, and Lara, 29, have utterly contrasting styles, which will be on display when they fight for a vacant interim junior middleweight belt on Saturday night (Showtime, 10 ET; preliminary bouts on Showtime Extreme beginning at 8 ET) at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.

Their fight is the middle bout in what should be an entertaining tripleheader topped by a brawl-in-the-making between welterweights Marcos Maidana (33-3, 30 KOs) and Josesito Lopez (30-5, 18 KOs); hot junior middleweight prospect Jermell Charlo (20-0, 10 KOs) opens the show in a step-up fight against Demetrius Hopkins (33-2-1, 13 KOs), the nephew of Bernard Hopkins.

While Angulo (22-2, 18 KOs) and Lara (17-1-2, 11 KOs) understand that they bring different styles to the ring, and while each hopes his style triumphs, it's usually the skills that pay the bills even if brawlers are more exciting.

"Style-wise, this is a perfect fight for me because Angulo likes to come forward," Lara said through a translator. "It's the classic boxer versus the puncher. I expect to put on a boxing clinic, so you can expect a smart fight from me.

"I'm really excited for this fight. Come [Saturday], I'm going to put on a boxing display and finally get the W over a top fighter that has been taken from me in my past fights."

All three blemishes on Lara's record have come with controversy. His ninth-round technical draw with Vanes Martirosyan in a November title eliminator ended when Martirosyan suffered a bad cut over his left eye from an accidental head butt. Many thought Lara had done enough to win, but it was ruled a split draw.

Lara's majority decision loss to Paul Williams in 2011 will go down as one of the most controversial calls in recent years. It was so bad that New Jersey suspended all three judges for their woeful scorecards. Lara also has a majority draw with fellow contender Carlos Molina in 2011.

"Angulo is a very tough fighter who can overwhelm his opponents with the pressure style he brings to the ring," Lara said. "I know I'm up against a very tough challenge, but he's never been in the ring with a world-class fighter like me. There is nothing he does that I haven't already seen. My goal is to give him a boxing lesson and win my first world championship."

Trainer Ronnie Shields, who has worked with numerous top fighters, does not see how Angulo's limited skills can match up with Lara's.

"I don't see any fighters in the division that can match skills with Lara," Shields said. "Lara is in a class of his own. He's one of the most advanced fighters I've been around in a very long time, and I can say that with confidence."

As skilled as Lara is, Angulo claims he is trying to add a little more boxing technique to his repertoire under the guidance of 2011 Trainer of the Year Virgil Hunter, whom Angulo will be working with for the third fight in a row following a year out of the ring while he ironed out his serious immigration issues and spent time in border detention.

"What's most exciting for Alfredo Angulo's team is that he's just now putting everything together and really learning the craft of boxing under Virgil Hunter," Golden Boy promoter Oscar De La Hoya said.

Said Angulo: "This is my third fight after my time off, and conditioning-wise I'm feeling like my old self, feeling like I used to feel. There's no doubt I'll be in better condition than I was for my last two fights. There was just too much time off. Now, I'm in a rhythm.

"It's going to be a very good fight, the bull versus the matador. I have a lot of respect for Lara. He's a really good fighter and he wants to show he's the best, but he's going to have to come out and fight."

Golovkin ready to take on Ishida

March, 27, 2013

Middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin, usually with a smile on his face, loves to fight and wants to stay as busy as possible.

He hopes to fight at least four times this year and got his 2013 off to a blazing start with a good old-fashioned beatdown of game Gabriel Rosado, whom he stopped in the seventh round on Jan. 19 in New York.

Although the executives at HBO love Golovkin -- and many American fans are also falling in love with him thanks to his exciting, go-for-broke style -- he doesn't want to sit around waiting for the network, which has him penciled in for a June date but couldn't accommodate him before that.

That's why Golovkin is in Monte Carlo this week.

Golovkin (25-0, 22 KOs), the 2004 Olympic silver medalist from Kazakhstan, who now trains with Abel Sanchez in Big Bear Lake, Calif., isn't in Monte Carlo to party in the glamorous gambling hot spot.

Rather, Golovkin is there on business -- to make his seventh title defense when he faces Japan's Nobuhiro Ishida (24-8-2, 9 KOs) on Saturday in the main event of a good-looking card.

Ishida isn't a top contender or the kind of opponent to get anyone all pumped up. Although a former interim junior middleweight titlist, he is living off his first-round knockout and giant upset of James Kirkland in 2011. Since then, Ishida is 1-2 with a win against a nobody followed by lopsided decision losses to Paul Williams and then-middleweight titlist Dmitry Pirog.

However, a couple of things: Ishida has never been stopped, so I want to see if Golovkin, a tremendous offensive fighter, can become the first to do it. Second, Golovkin could be fighting some hobo outside a bar and I'd want to watch. He is must-see TV. So if he is facing Ishida, a solid pro, count me in.

Besides, the rest of the PPV is interesting. It includes both 10-round semifinals in what organizers are calling the "Monaco Million Dollar Super Four" tournament. In one semifinal, super middleweight contender Edwin Rodriguez (22-0, 15 KOs) of Worcester, Mass., will face Ezequiel Osvaldo Maderna (19-0, 13 KOs), a 2008 Olympian from Argentina, and in the other semi, former light heavyweight and cruiserweight titlist Zsolt Erdei (33-0, 18 KOs) of Hungary will face San Diego-based Russian Denis Grachev (12-1-1, 8 KOs) -- who knocked out Ismayl Sillakh and pushed Lucian Bute to the limit in a tight decision loss -- in a light heavyweight fight.

The semifinal winners are scheduled to meet July 13 in Monte Carlo at a maximum of 171½ -- which is between the super middleweight and light heavyweight limits -- with the winner getting $600,000 and the loser getting $400,000 (hence the $1 million title).

Also on Saturday's card, European junior middleweight champion Sergei Rabchenko (22-0, 16 KOs) of Belarus will defend against Adriano Nicchi (20-3-2, 9 KOs) of Italy.

Ishida was given no chance to beat Kirkland, but he comes into this fight with his typical go-get-'em attitude and uncaring about the odds.

"We know that [Golovkin] is a great and powerful champion," Ishida said through a translator at Tuesday's final news conference. "He is very strong and one of the best fighters pound-for-pound in boxing, but we are here for the upset. We are prepared to do whatever we have to do to take this championship home with us."

Said Daisuke Okabe, Ishida's co-trainer: "This could be Ishida's last chance at a world title. He is like a samurai warrior and will do everything possible to win."

Golovkin is one of those fighters who will literally fight anyone. Time and again, he and K2 promoter Tom Loeffler have said Golovkin will fight anyone HBO wants him to, from junior middleweight to super middleweight. No exceptions.

"We have a lot of respect for Ishida for agreeing to fight Gennady while others have avoided him at all costs," Loeffler said. "Gennady wants to fight all over the world and it's very important for him to put on exciting fights. Our plan is to stay at 160 until a more attractive fight presents itself either at 154 or 168."

Loeffler went on to say that Golovkin would be willing to face Sergio Martinez, the division's real champion, in his home country of Argentina. He also said Golovkin would happily go down to 154 for an opportunity to face the winner of the April 20 Canelo Alvarez-Austin Trout unification fight.

Meantime, we'll see who Loeffler and HBO can line up for Golovkin in June, assuming he beats Ishida, which seems likely. Before that, however, Golovkin is, as usual, looking forward to fighting.

"I know Ishida well and I know this is going to be a difficult fight," Golovkin said. "I am ready to put on a great performance for everyone on Saturday."

Golden Gloves promoter Rodney Berman, who is the lead promoter of the card, warned Golovkin about looking ahead.

"Complacency is every boxer's biggest enemy," Berman said. "Let this be a warning to Golovkin."

Still, Golovkin reiterated his willingness to fight anyone, even with Ishida in front of him.

"It's no problem for me to fight from 154 to 168," he said. "My style means that I will never be in a boring fight."

And that's why we'll watch, no matter who is across the ring from him.

Paul Williams grateful for support

June, 5, 2012

Former two-time welterweight titlist Paul Williams remains in an Atlanta-area hospital after being involved in a motorcycle accident on May 27, which ended his career and left him paralyzed from the waist down.

On Monday, Williams made a statement through publicist Rachel Charles thanking the public for the overwhelming support he has received since the accident.

"I feel the love and support from everyone and it's overwhelming," Williams said. "I am very thankful to all of my fans and friends who have rallied around me in a time when I need them the most."

According to George Peterson, Williams' trainer, manager and father figure, doctors have told Williams, 30, that he is unlikely to walk again. On Friday, Williams had a 6½-hour operation to stablize the portion of spinal cord that was not severely damaged in the accident.

Just days before the incident, Williams had signed to challenge junior middleweight titlist Saul "Canelo" Alvarez on Sept. 15 in a pay-per-view headliner from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Junior middleweight titlist Saul "Canelo" Alvarez needs an opponent for his Sept. 15 pay-per-view date at the MGM Grand. That's because of Paul Williams' tragic motorcycle accident, which has left the fighter paralyzed from the waist down, and because James Kirkland's surgically repaired shoulder still aches -- but also because Kirkland doesn't think a purse of nearly $1 million is enough.

Golden Boy promoter Richard Schaefer said after Kirkland's withdrawal on Friday that the show would go on -- and insisted it would still be on pay-per-view, even though Kirkland was a huge reach as a pay-per-view opponent in the first place.

Schaefer mentioned several names that he thought could be potential opponents: the winner of Saturday night's bout between titleholder Austin Trout and Delvin Rodriguez; former welterweight titlist Carlos Quintana, who was impressive in knocking out Deandre Latimore on May 5 on the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Miguel Cotto pay-per-view undercard; top contender Erislandy Lara; and Vanes Martirosyan (who is promoted by Golden Boy rival Top Rank).

The one man Schaefer didn't mention was Carlos Molina -- the same Molina who was robbed in a draw against Lara last year and who utterly outclassed Kirkland on March 24, only to be astonishingly disqualified at the end of the 10th round by overzealous referee Jon Schorle in one of the worst referee calls I've ever seen.

Molina, a legitimate top-10 junior middleweight, has every bit the right to at least be mentioned along with those other fighters Schaefer cited.

Molina, of course, would love a crack at Alvarez.

"Hell yeah, I want that fight," Molina said. "Every time I fight somebody, it seems like they get to fight Canelo after that. Kirkland was the second time it was going to happen. First time was with Kermit Cintron, whom I beat [and whom Alvarez then knocked out two fights later in 2011]. Now they're talking about giving the fight to Erislandy Lara, [who] I had a controversial draw with. What can I do?"

As always, Molina is staying in shape in the hopes that his phone rings with an offer.

"I'm in the gym training. I'm ready for anyone -- Canelo, anybody," Molina said. "I want to fight anybody in the top 10. I want hard fights, the toughest guys out there. This is the best division in boxing, and that's where I want to be."

As for how he would fare against Alvarez if the unexpected call comes?

"I think he's a good, strong young kid, but I see lots of openings to exploit on him," Molina said. "He's good for a young guy, but how good? Let's find out."
Junior middleweight titlist Saul "Canelo" Alvarez was supposed to defend his belt against Paul Williams on Sept. 15 on pay-per-view at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. But that was before Williams was paralyzed from the waist down in a motorcycle accident on Sunday. Williams' career is over, and his doctors say won't walk again.

Alvarez will go on to fight somebody else on Sept. 15, but he said he has Williams in his thoughts and released a statement on Friday, the day Williams was scheduled to undergo spinal surgery.

"I am very upset about what happened to Paul," Alvarez said. "I know that an accident can happen to anyone, and right now the most important thing is for everyone to pray for his recovery. Paul Williams is a warrior who gives everything in the ring, but right now he is fighting the biggest fight of his life outside the ring. I extend my best wishes to him in his recovery and to his family as well.

"Paul will always be a champion, and I am going to dedicate my Sept. 15 fight to him and his family. God willing and health permitting, I want to invite him and his family to be ringside on Sept. 15 in Las Vegas."

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."

Ring Tones: Favorite action fighters

February, 16, 2012

Dan Rafael riffs on a few of his favorite action fighters who will return to the ring in the coming days.

Dan Rafael wonders whether one-time pound-for-pound star Paul Williams can bounce back against Nobuhiro Ishida on Feb. 18 in Corpus Christi, Texas.