By Nick Tylwalk
If you've read this site at all in the past, you already know that we object to the overuse of the term "robbery" as it pertains to boxing decisions. I've found that most of the time when people throw that term around, they are actually talking about a relatively close fight that just didn't go to the guy they thought was the winner. That's not a robbery.
On Saturday in Atlantic City, I'd submit that Paul Williams' majority decision over Erislandy Lara was a robbery. In fact, I didn't even watch the final round because I was so sure Lary had it in the bag. It wasn't until later when Max (Parker, who did the round by round for our site) sent me a text message mentioning a disgusting decision that I realized Williams won.
I actually like Williams and wanted to see a career resurgence from him after he was knocked silly by Sergio Martinez during their second fight. Instead, what we saw was The Punisher displaying the same impressive work rate and determination he always has... and just as many defensive shortcomings as well. Lary followed the same game plan Martinez used so well, peppering Williams with left hands and staying mobile enough that many of the return punches never reached their target.
Our own Uatu pointed out that the best way to beat Williams was actually devised by Carlos Quintana when they first fought in early 2008. Williams just never allowed him to try it again during their rematch, getting to Quintana early and knocking him out in the first round.
Maybe that would happen if Williams met Lara again, but I sort of doubt it. In fact as crappy a deal as it is for him, I have a hard time seeing Lara get a rematch. It's a tough break for the former Cuban defector, who impressed the HBO crew enough that they were saying he could hang with anyone at 154 pounds. I'm not as convinced of that, but he certainly deserved better.Williams will likely stay in the mix for at least one more big fight, and ironically, it may actually help his case that he looked so crappy. Guys who were unwilling to fight him in the past may feel a little braver now. He may even get the rubber match he wants with Martinez, though I know I'm not alone in saying I really don't know if we need to see that.
As always, though, when one star is fading in the sweet science, another is on the rise. This weekend the fighter who took another big step forward was lightweight titleholder Brandon Rios, who engaged in a thrilling slugfest with Urbano Antillon that showed off his ridiculous combination of two-fisted power and iron chin.Antillon gamely attempted to stand and trade with Rios as we all suspected he would. He landed more than his fair share of power shots, especially body shots and hooks upstairs. It looked like he may have hurt Rios just a bit at the end of Round 2, perhaps starting to swing the fight in his favor.
It turned out exactly the opposite way in Round 3, with Rios scoring an early knockdown. Antillon tried to punch his way back into the fight, but Bam Bam was just too much for him, and even though the challenger beat the count again when knocked down late in Round 3, the ref wisely stopped the fight.
The Showtime announcers correctly identified Rios as a boxer with true star potential because of his action-oriented style and the fact that he knocks opponents out. Bob Arum was so giddy that he openly talked about Rios continuing to move up in weight to face Manny Pacquiao in 2013.I could see that happening, but before we go too overboard, it's fair to point out that no matter how strong your chin is, using it as your primary defensive weapon is not a good path to a long career. Yes, Rios showed more boxing skills that Antillon, but that's like saying the U.S. national debt problem isn't as bad as the situation in Greece. Rios still gets hit an awful lot, and though Antillon is extremely tough and a relentless worker, there's nothing subtle or especially athletic about what he does.
That means Rios is still a work in progress. He needs some more seasoning against quicker, slightly slicker opponents before he is ready for the likes of Pacquiao. He certainly has to improve in the skills department before he'd even be able to lay many gloves on Floyd Mayweather.
But man, will it be fun watching him while he gets that experience. Jump on the Bam Bam bandwagon now before it gets really full.
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