The post-Bob Arum era of Versus arrived with five straight early knockouts, none more mind-bending than Paul Williams’, which is not going to help his whole “most avoided boxer in the world” title. Chris Arreola was the other featured star, but three prospects got some air time, too. It wasn’t bad entertainment, not at all, even if Versus’ decision to do business with promoters other than Arum’s Top Rank did not demonstrate any immediate turn toward non-mismatches. I’d really love to get on the Chris Arreola bandwagon in a major way — he’s exciting and he throws combination punches, which is mostly all I need — but his weight gain is extremely worrisome. The heavyweight really lived up to his division’s name by weighing nearly 20 pounds more Thursday night than he did against Chazz Witherspoon just a few months ago, and he looked flabby then. Wallace Matthews in the Versus broadcast booth said he asked Arreola, “Do you think it’s fair for fans to question your discipline?” to which Arreola reportedly answered, “I do. I question it sometimes.” Given that Arreola once gave up the sport entirely for a while, it seems his passion waxes and wanes; his enthusiasm about boxing after beating Witherspoon was overflowing. Anyway, Israel Garcia, brave though he was, was a very weak opponent, and Arreola scored a 3rd round knockout. Arreola was a little slower and less busy than he was against Witherspoon or anyone else I’ve seen him fight, really, it’s just that Garcia wasn’t good enough to make him pay. When and if Arreola fights a world-class fighter, he’ll need to hit the gym. It’s time for Arreola to get serious, both in his professionalism and in his choice of opponent — he’s ranked in the top 10 at heavyweight, and the 27-year-old prospect-turning-contender already had proven he can beat fighters way better than Garcia. I liked this Rico Ramos kid. With the caveat that he was only in his seventh pro bout and was in against an opponent who hasn’t won in seven straight fights (overall record: 16-26-9), I thought his speed was exceptional; his schooling as a decorated amateur was plain to behold; and he finished a hurt opponent strongly to get the 1st round knockout. The 21-year-old 122-pounder just had the look of someone who could go far. His eagerness, too, bodes well — he’d openly pined before the card to the Versus broadcast team about getting a chance to make a national television appearance should the heavyweight opener end in an early knockout; he’s an Olympic alternate who has already fought seven times in his six month pro career; and if you type his name into Google, you’ll find some articles with him talking about how desperately he wants people to take notice of his talent. Lest I seem like the kind of guy who just goes head over heels anytime some prospect blows out some overmatched opponent, I was not nearly as enthused about Bayan Jargal, a young welterweight (147 lbs.) whom the Versus team gushed was very impressive. I mean, maybe he could be good some day — apparently he lacks a major amateur pedigree, so maybe that explains the fact that he’s already got a draw on his record, his third bout out of nine total. He looked like a different fighter in the 2nd round than he did in the 1st, going from an ultra-hittable plodder to a destroyer just like that. I think he’s a long ways away, but I do love his nickname: “The Mongolian Mongoose.” Cuz he’s, like, from Mongolia. I’ve been tremendously skeptical of Paul Williams fighting above welterweight, where he’s the owner of an alphabet title belt and can legitimately claim to be the division’s best, since he beat Antonio Margarito, the welterweight most consider tops. But, wow. Wow. That was some 1st round knockout of a legit middleweight (160 lbs.) in Andy Kolle, who, while not an extremely serious opponent, does have a win over Matt Vanda, who almost took away Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr.’s unbeaten record recently. And Williams took care of Kolle far easier than did ultra-talented middleweight prospect Andre Ward, Kolle’s only previous loss. Williams put Kolle flat on his back with a double left hook and finishing right, and Kolle valiantly tried to get up, but he was gone. Just gone. Kolle connected on a couple good shots, and Williams took them well. Williams is still kind of amateurish at times — he’s out of position every time he misses a punch, and he has some balance problems — but he’s a really, really good fighter, and fun to watch, too. I don’t know if I buy Williams in against someone like Kelly Pavlik, because that’s a whole different deal than Kolle, but it’s no longer something I’d shoot down so casually as I once did. Based on this, I’d be interested in seeing him in against anyone from 160 to 147. Especially, anyone at welterweight, I’d love to see him fight. Above all, Williams-Margarito II needs to happen. I’m beginning to get the impression I’m the only one who’s pissed off that Bob Arum’s animus against Williams’ management team is all that stands between boxing fans and one of the best and most important fights on the planet. It’s a rematch of an exciting slugfest, one that was controversial and did not definitively prove who the better fighter was; it features two men who should be in everyone’s top 20 on their pound-for-pound lists; and it would settle who ought to be the top man in the loaded welterweight class. Williams used to just be a pain in the ass, a southpaw with a giant frame and astounding work rate. Now he’s crushing fools. If it’s too early to say much about Ramos or Jargal, it’s waaaaay too early to say much of anything about 19-year-old Derrick Wilson, a featherweight (126 lbs.) who was in just his third fight. The only thing you can say about Wilson is that was some kind of knockout punch he landed in the 1st round. He did it after falling out of position after missing a punch, then coming back up with a nasty right hook as his man chased him. Boom. Nice work, young Mr. Wilson.