Boxing fans might remember the Sergio Martinez vs Paul Williams middleweight fight last December as one of the best of 2009.
Well, fasten your seatbelts. They’re about to slug it out again on Nov. 20 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, this time for the WBC Middleweight championship, which Martinez won with a unanimous decision over Kelly Pavlik in April. Martinez also won the WBO Middleweight Title in that fight, but it’s not on the line against Williams.
The first bout between the 35-year-old Martinez (45-2-2, 24 Kos) of Argentina and the 29-year-old Williams (39-1, 27 Kos) of Augusta, Georgia, a pair of southpaws, ended controversially in a majority win for the American -- with two judges ruling for Williams and the third scoring it a draw. The fight got off to a rousing start with both men being knocked down in the first round and was entertaining for all 12 rounds.
Williams is 6-foot-1 with an 82-inch reach, while Martinez is 5-10 with a 76-inch reach, but the smaller man gave just as good as he got in the first fight, and he might have a slight advantage here as this bout’s going to be fought at a catch weight of 158 lbs.
Williams seems to have the edge in punching power when looking at his record, but Martinez has deceptive power and can drop opponents if they aren’t careful. Williams also has more speed and is quite active in the ring, throwing punches in combinations rather than one at a time. Martinez is better defensively, and even though they were both dropped in the first meeting, they can take a punch quite well. They both have a lot of heart and that’s what made the first fight such a barnburner.
Williams may be remembered for his unanimous win over Antonio Margarito back in 2007 for the welterweight title, while Martinez’s biggest win was against Pavlik. If this rematch is half as good as the first fight, it’s going to be entertaining -- hopefully both fighters will pick up where they left off last year.
Williams is at his best when he’s throwing punches in volume but, surprisingly, for a boxer of his size he’s actually better fighting on the inside. And this is where Martinez can catch him. If Williams used his height and reach, it could make for a long night for the champion. But when he comes inside, Martinez is waiting for him with speedy and effective shots.
This fight could be totally different than the first one if both guys box a tactical fight instead of letting their fists go. Let’s hope this isn’t the case. As much as I’d like to see Martinez hang on to his title, I believe Williams will somehow leave the ring with the belt after 12 rounds.