Although Paul Williams' boxing career was cut short by a motorcycle accident that paralyzed him from the waist down in May 2012, he still possesses immense knowledge of the sport and too much love for it to stay away.
Four years after his accident, "The Punisher" has become a trainer.
Although confined to a wheelchair, Williams, a former two-time welterweight titleholder, has been training 22-year-old Augusta, Georgia junior middleweight Justin DeLoach (13-1, 7 KOs) and will be in his corner when he takes on Dillon Cook (16-0, 6 KOs) in an eight-round bout that will open a "ShoBox: The New Generation" quadrupleheader on March 25 (Showtime, 10:30 p.m. ET/PT) at the Buffalo Run Casino in Miami, Oklahoma.
In the main event of the prospect-laden card, junior welterweight Regis Prograis (16-0, 13 KOs) will face Aaron Herrera (29-4-1, 18 KOs) in a 10-rounder. Also on the card in eight-round fights, junior welterweight Ivan Baranchyk (9-0, 8 KOs) will fight Nicholas Givhan (16-0-1, 10 KOs), and welterweight Ivan Golub (10-0, 8 KOs) will fight Marlon Aguas (9-0, 6 KOs).
During his 2006 to 2012 heyday, Williams was considered one of the best fighters in the world pound-for-pound, not to mention one of the most exciting. He was a southpaw with elite skills, great size and power.
Dan Goossen, his late promoter, dubbed him the most-avoided man in boxing, although he eventually did get marquee matches. He defeated a prime Antonio Margarito, winning a welterweight world title, and Winky Wright. He also had two memorable fights against Sergio Martinez, whom he beat by majority decision in their first action-packed middleweight non-title fight in 2009, but lost by blistering second-round knockout when he challenged Martinez for the middleweight world championship in a 2010 rematch.
Williams fought only twice more after that fight, but just a week before the accident ended his career he had signed to face Canelo Alvarez in a September 2012 HBO PPV fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Although Williams maintained a positive outlook after his accident and still hopes he will someday walk again, he retreated from the sport he has finally rejoined.
"I guess I was being selfish at first," Williams said. "I didn't want to deal with the fight game. I wanted to be the one fighting. But that changed."
George Peterson, Williams' longtime manager, trainer and father figure, helped convince him to return to the sport he loves.
"I really didn't want to do this," said Williams, who has a gym in his hometown of Aiken, South Carolina. "But finally after three or four years of George practically begging me to try and do it, this opportunity (with DeLoach) came along and I decided to give it a shot. Everything is about timing. I started thinking about it. George kept asking me and messing with me about it. One thing led to another, and I finally said I'd take a stab at it."
Williams, 34, said he is enjoying his new job but has pre-fight jitters just like he did when he was the one going into the ring.
"I'm scared all over again, like this is my first fight," Williams said. "Now I have to think about everything that Mr. Peterson was thinking about when I was fighting. I have to try and teach Justin what I knew how to do.
"George and I accomplished a lot. He made me a world champion. Before that, no one knew who he or I was. We were just a couple of guys from Aiken, South Carolina. We gave fans fights to remember. I was the fighter the press (and Goossen) labeled as 'most-feared in boxing.' But that's over for me now. I'm jumping into a whole new thing. It's been an adjustment, but I'm glad I'm doing it."
Williams, who has known DeLoach since he was a kid, has a pupil who was a former top amateur. Since his lone defeat in February 2015, DeLoach has won three fights in a row. He said Williams is the right man to train him.
"This has been a total blessing, and I say that every day," DeLoach said. "Thank God. He's the one who brought the two of us together, that's the main thing. Paul loves it, just to be back. I think he was scared at first. His reputation was at stake, and so was mine. But he's been so helpful, just in the mental side of things. I was already a good boxer, but he's taken me to another level mentally. He's been pushing me, criticizing me, giving me instructions and picking my brain.
"Me and Paul, we've known each other our whole lives. I'm from Augusta, Georgia, and he was right across in Aiken. We knew each other when I was coming up as an amateur."
The idea for Williams to train DeLoach came about after Williams traveled to San Antonio in December to watch a card he boxed on.
"When I saw him, I got so excited," DeLoach said. "We started to talk, and I said something like, 'Hey, Paul, wouldn't it be cool if we got together?' Once I came home, we started working together, and he's been training me since. I think we're going on about three months now. It's an unbelievable feeling to be able to work with one of my favorite fighters."
Williams has high praise for DeLoach.
"He's a good fighter, and now he's in the spotlight," Williams said. "I want to do my best in the training world to get him at his peak. I hope he does his best. I'd love to one-up George with Justin."
Peterson is also part of the team, assisting Williams in DeLoach's training camp.
"I'm just helping Paul," Peterson said. "So far, he's doing great."
As a fighter, Williams (41-2, 27 KOs) was one of the best of his time. He said he does not dwell on those days. Instead, he looks forward to his future as a trainer.
"What's happened has happened. It is what it is," Williams said. "This is my first time stepping back into the world. I love boxing."