ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — For someone who just got knocked out as frighteningly as one can get knocked out, Paul Williams didn’t sound like his spirit was broken. “We 1-1. Let’s do it again,” he said of his conqueror, middleweight champion Sergio Martinez, at the news conference after the fight Saturday.
Meanwhile, Martinez’ team celebrated their victory — promoter Lou DiBella called it one of the best two nights of his boxing life and said he was going to “go out and get messed up” — and broke down how they believed, no kidding, that Martinez would score a 2nd round knockout no one saw coming that way.
That, and other choice observations, from the news conference:
The loser on these fights often gets to go first, so Williams’ team was up on the dais before Martinez’ team.
Williams said Martinez’ punches were no harder than before. But, he said, “It was a punch I didn’t see. I got caught. That’s the way the cookie crumbles.”
Trainer George Peterson said they didn’t adjust to Martinez because he’s a guy you “can’t box. You have to make him fight.” And: “It was a matter of who got their first was going out.” In other words, Williams’ plan was to go for the knockout at all costs.
Promoter Dan Goossen said there was no rematch clause, and while he would consider a third bout for Williams and Martinez if it made sense, he hoped to talk to Williams, Peterson and manager Al Haymon about how Williams needed to move down to welterweight.
DiBella agreed. “He’s a great fighter. But he’s not a middleweight. He might be the best welterweight in the world. He might be the best 154-pounder in the world,” DiBella said, so long as Martinez stays away from the division.
DiBella said, after Williams’ team left the stage, they’d consider a rematch, since Williams gave Martinez one. But: “Why the f*ck would he want the rematch? Go down to where you’re the best, not where you’re going to get knocked the f*ck out again.”
I think this is all true. Wiliams and Peterson — they’re proud guys. They will want this one back, and they deserve to be commended for wanting it back. But Goossen and DiBella are right: Williams needs to move down in weight. It’s why he shouldn’t take too much flack for this loss. Everyone around him said it, his rival’s promoter said it, I said it… the guy isn’t that big, despite being so long and tall. He’s got a slender frame and he’s not as strong as most middleweights. I thought he’d win this fight, however narrowly I believed it. But now it’s crystal clear — he should stay away from middleweights.
Now, should he make fewer mistakes? Absolutely. He’s a flawed fighter in many, many ways. He leaves himself open. His excellent chin has allowed him to get away with it, and with his volume/all-offense style, but that chin might now become a vulnerability; sometimes, fighters don’t recover so well from knockouts like that. Some think he was on his way down before this fight, and maybe he was. All I know is, he ain’t a middleweight.
Back to the news conference.
Martinez trainer Gabriel Sarmiento apparently wrote down on a pad sometime before the fight that it would be a 2nd round knockout. Martinez would work the body in the 1st and ignore the head. Then, in the 2nd, he would fake to the right and go to the left, taking advantage of Williams’ feet placement. Martinez adviser Sampson Lewkowicz insisted that there was a witness who saw this, and it sounded like he meant Thomas Hauser, the boxing writer (he said something like “Tom Hausen”).
DiBella said Sarmiento is now one of the best trainers in the world. Hard to argue with that. Freddie Roach might win Trainer of the Year again if his junior welterweight Amir Khan beats Marcos Maidana next month, but Sarmiento would still be a strong runner-up.
Martinez himself was mostly humble, and complimented Williams, but he did allow this one bit of gloating when asked what mistakes Williams made: “To accept the rematch was the first mistake he made.”
DiBella et al were hit with every potential opponent. Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather: “You don’t chase Mayweather or Pacquiao. They’re the boss… That said, I ain’t trippin’. I don’t think either of those guys watched this fight and said, ‘I want to fight Sergio Martinez.'” (DiBella.) Martinez sounded like he’d be up for a Mayweather fight, but of Pacquiao, he said, “Pacquiao is too small. It would be a mismatch.” Dmitriy Pirog: “We’ll fight him, but it’s about “what makes dollars and sense.” (DiBella.) Antonio Margarito: “It would be a murder.” (DiBella.) “I would not want to retire Margarito.” (Martinez.)
DiBella said he’d worry about all that tomorrow. But he thinks everyone gets the point about Martinez. “I think HBO knows what a star is. He’s a star now.”
He sure is.