No way! We got a major upset in Saturday night’s HBO double-header in boxing’s best division, the welterweight (147 lbs.) class.
PAUL WILLIAMS/CARLOS QUINTANA
This stands a chance of holding up as the upset of 2008: Carlos Quintana pulled out a close decision victory Saturday night over Paul Williams, the most avoided boxer in the division, and, until tonight, maybe the most avoided boxer in the entire world.
No more. Williams looked amateurish, hittable and slow. Quintana looked clever, landed the bigger shots and moved beautifully. This is a case of one fighter looking good and the other looking bad, and where Williams might have been the better overall fighter, that’s a combination that put Williams on the off-ramp to the road to disaster.
Make no mistake, Williams is going to have a long road back to the top. With his 6’1″ frame and unfathomable work rate, he was a style disaster for any and all welterweights. Now who would want to fight him? He lost to a borderline top-10 welterweight. How can he make a claim that he deserves a big fight now? He doesn’t get to call himself “most avoided” anymore, because anyone looking for an excuse to avoid him now has it.
The welterweights are a pretty deep division, huh? Miguel Cotto slaughtered Quintana, but I think that’s more a tribute to Cotto than anything. Quintana’s a seriously good fighter. In another division, he’d be far better-ranked. This gets him firmly into the top 10. But is he better than, say, a Joshua Clottey? It’s hard to say. He appears to have some stamina problems, but he’s fast, he’s a sharp puncher when he’s got his energy and he’s smart in there.
I thought it was a dramatic bout, because of the upset potential and because of the closeness of the rounds. I scored it seven rounds to five for Quintana, an 8-1 underdog coming in to the fight. I can understand somebody maybe giving it to Williams, like HBO’s Harold Lederman had it. I don’t understand how Lederman gave Williams the last two rounds. I didn’t, and that was all the difference. Williams didn’t do much of anything in the 11th and 12th, while Quintana went back to landing hard lefts and rights. Basically, when Quintana wasn’t tired, he won with sharper punches; Williams won when he landed his jab and the occasional power shot, and when he moved his head.
Williams may have had an off-night. He looked slower and far more hittable than he did against Antonio Margarito in 2007 in his signature win. It was a long layoff from tonight since the Margarito win last summer, and Williams weighed in at 164 on the scales on the night of, given a day to recharge from the official weigh-in. It doesn’t matter: This was a disastrous loss.
Next for the winner: Quintana is going to be a credible opponent for any top welterweight who wants to make the claim that he’s not just biding time for something bigger. But I doubt anyone’s going to be clamoring to fight him. He’s good, but not great. I’d love to see him in against some of the other second-tier welterweights — and that’s what Quintana is — like a Luis Collazo or Joshua Clottey. If he can beat a guy like that, maybe, then, he can springboard closer to the top.
Next for the loser: It’s going to take some serious rebuilding time for Williams. Nobody’s really going to be looking to fight him, so he’s going to have to put himself into position to win a mandatory title shot, then win a bunch more, to get mentioned again among the likes of Cotto and Floyd Mayweather — where he was, before Saturday night. I’ll tell you this much, he definitely needs to listen to his corner more. When his corner told him “head movement,” and he listened, it was effective. His corner repeatedly told him to go to the body, and he hardly did; when he did, it made a difference, and it’s frustrating to me that he had a tiring fighter in front of him and it never occurred to him to punch him in the body.
ANDRE BERTO/MICHEL TRABANT
Wow, that proved absolutely nothing. Those people who said Michel Trabant would be the toughest competition yet for welterweight prospect Andre Berto must’ve been doing some kind of Aldous Huxley altered-consciousness experiment because he wasn’t very good.
Berto, who unfurled his usual flashy, bone-jarring combinations en route to a 6th round stoppage, needed to work on his defense. He got hit tons by David Estrada in 2007, and before that, got wobbled badly by Cosme Rivera. Trabant didn’t bother throwing any leather Berto’s way, so Berto didn’t even get to practice the Art of Not Getting Hit. He’s mastered The Art of Hitting, completely and thoroughly. Maybe he drops his right too much after he lands it, and that’s about it. Otherwise it’s uppercuts, body shots, jabs and everything else one can have in the repertoire. He didn’t have to worry about anything coming back from Trabant, and what came didn’t have much on it.
From what I could tell, Berto’s still pretty hittable. He got jabbed pretty consistently. He flirted more than he had previously with that Mayweather shoulder roll defense, to moderate success. He seemed eager to at least try to dodge punches. And he was patient, never getting dragged into a brawl that would result in him getting hit more often.
Next for the winner: I still don’t think Berto’s ready for the big time. Maybe later this year, with another couple wins along the lines of the Estrada KO, he’ll be ready for a top-10 welter.
Next for the loser: Go back to Germany, man. The ringside announcers said he made some money over there and wanted to come here to test himself. Test flunked. There’s no reason for him not to go back home and stay wealthy.