The Best Way To Make An Unsatisfying Paul Williams Fight Might Be For His Opponent To Go Flying Out Of The Ring

Paul Williams got a split decision win Saturday over Kermit Cintron that was wholly unsatisfying, as Cintron went flying out of the ring in the 4th round and doctors wouldn’t let him continue. It’s weird for Williams to be involved in something unsatisfying, but weirdness begets weirdness; you don’t often see someone fall out of the ring like that to end matters. Weird also is the California rule that sent the fight to the scorecards after three rounds — that’s not enough action to determine a winner, one fourth of a fight. The split decision win also was a bit strange, but what rounds were in the books were hard to score, as I gave Williams the 1st and 3rd and Cintron the 2nd and 4th, and it’s not out of the realm of feasibility to give both men all four rounds.

As someone who counts himself among the biggest fans of Williams, I ached that he didn’t get a chance to set himself up as a viable opponent for Floyd Mayweather. I’m sure the Cintron fans out there are a bit annoyed that their guy didn’t get a chance to prove his mettle by toppling the #3 pound-for-ound man in the sport. Anyone who likes boxing can’t be contented about all this, but it’s a wacky sport sometimes.

Williams wasn’t fighting his usual fight. He was coming off a grueling win over Sergio Martinez where he chin got dented, so maybe he was hesitant to wade in with all that volume punching against the powerful Cintron. Cintron didn’t land a whole lot clean in the 1st round, but mabye it was enough for Williams to feel his strength. Cintron’s defensive reflexes and countering abilities were also in fine form, which had to give Williams some pause. I thought Williams landed the flusher shots in the 1st. In the 2nd, though, Cintron did land a few clean shots, so I gave it to him. Between rounds, Williams’ corner told him to lay back and wait for Cintron and counter him,  which made it sound like it was part of a plan. In the 3rd, Williams turned up the heat, beating Cintron on connects, and giving a nice shot to Cintron late in the round against the ropes.

The 4th is when things ended. Williams came out like “himself,” i.e., desperate as all get-out to land something, anything on Cintron. He connected on a few good ones, but Cintron connected back, too. Williams wobbled a bit but it may have only been a balance question, as he immediately fired back at Cintron. A macho shootout was developing, the kind of bout people who thought this might be a Fight of the Year candidate expected. Instead, during a clinch, Williams went to step around Cintron and instead stumbled, prompting Cintron to stumble over Williams’ feet and go flying through the middle ropes.

Cintron didn’t land on the table or floor too hard from what I saw, but then, you never can tell with something like this. The concern was that he might have hurt his neck, and obviously if doctors were concerned about that, you don’t want to let him get up and go back to exchanging punches. Cintron wanted to, judging by what he said when he stopped laying on his side after a few minutes, and as he was being wheeled out on a gurney. I’m sure some will wonder if he was faking, but I don’t see the motive. It probably was just that the doctors were being excessively cautious. But that rule about going to the scorecards after three rounds — they should consider stretching that out a bit.

So Cintron doesn’t get a signature victory. He gets another strange ending, one to rival his knockout-loss-then-draw to Sergio Martinez, only this ends in a dubious loss. Williams doesn’t get anything of real note from this either, because the fight was so short as to make the win almost meaningless.

The most interesting part of the evening may have come afterward, when HBO’s commentating team offered some thoughts. Jim Lampley said that Williams’ team is sensitive about the idea of him being able to fight as a welterweight, which prompted Lampley to say, OK, sounds great, but this fight was at junior middleweight and until Williams can get a welterweight in the ring, it’s hard to consider him a welter. Fair point, and the “there wasn’t enough time for Williams and Cintron to get down to 147” argument didn’t do either man favors on that count. And Larry Merchant said that Kelly Pavlik is going to move up to super middleweight, leaving his successor as middleweight champ Sergio Martinez free of his rematch obligations. If true — and it’s not official, according to Martinez’ team — that sets things up nicely for Williams-Martinez II. As badly as I want that fight, I don’t think it’ll happen next; Martinez is talking about other things first. While we’re waiting for Williams-Martinez II, why not Williams-Cintron II? Cuz Williams-Cintron I didn’t hit the spot, and it had the feel of a fight that was going to fairly soon.

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board ( He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.