Paul Williams is among the top ten pound-for-pound fighters in the world but comparatively little known Sergio Martinez gave the Punisher all he could handle last night in Atlantic City. In fact, were it not for one incompetent judge, Martinez could have earned a well-deserved draw.
Both fighters were knocked down in round one and that set the stage for an action-packed fight-of-the-year candidate. Williams was generally the aggressor but Martinez landed the cleaner, harder shots. Williams threw more punches but Martinez was more accurate. Both fighters demonstrated great skill and heart throughout. When the scores were totaled after 12 rounds, the decision could have gone either way and it would have been tough to argue with a draw. Two judges got it about right at 114-114 (by Julie Lederman) and 115-113 (by Lynne Carter) for Williams. The third judge, Pierre Benoist, turned in a ridiculous 119-110 for Williams - calling the first round even, giving the second to Martinez and then scoring all of the remaining ten rounds 10-9 for Williams. Some judges tend to prefer the more aggressive fighter but they're supposed to reward effective aggressiveness. While Benoist's scorecard was a disgrace, it does not take away from an incredible performance by two great fighters. No one else between 147 and 160 pounds is going to be in a hurry to get in the ring with either Williams or Martinez so a rematch - hopefully with three competent judges - is entirely possible.
On the undercard, heavyweight contender Chris Arreola scored a fourth round TKO over a game but undersized Brian Minto, who was giving up five inches in height and reach (plus 45 pounds in weight) to Arreola. Arreola talks a good game about how hard he works in the gym ... yet his weight continues to rise. He weighed a jiggly 251 in his September TKO loss to Vitali Klitschko. This time? A career high 263. If Minto was Arreola's size, this fight could have gone either way.
Elsewhere, WBA super lightweight champ Amir Khan needed just 76 seconds to destroy previously undefeated Dmitiry Salita. Khan, defending his title for the first time in front of a supportive crowd in Newcastle, England, dropped Salita with the first punch he threw and knocked him down two more times before the fight was stopped.