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Williams proves why he's avoided

Just too good: Paul Williams, left, proved all wrong for Winky Wright. AP Photo/Eric Jamison

LAS VEGAS -- So, Paul Williams thought he was an avoided fighter, huh?

He ain't seen nothin' yet.

Few men wanted to tangle with him before, but what now? Who will dare fight him after seeing Williams take apart the previously indomitable Winky Wright for a virtual shutout decision victory in their middleweight showdown Saturday night before an excited but sparse crowd of 5,425 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center?

Quite simply, Williams put on a performance that might have been too good for his own good.

There was nothing he couldn't do against Wright other than knock him down. Besides that, it was a landslide of epic proportions against a longtime pound-for-pound fighter who had never been beaten so badly, not even close.

And the funny thing is, even in the lopsided loss, Wright (51-5-1, 25 KOs) fought a good fight. He simply could not handle Williams' overwhelming physical gifts or deal with his nonstop punching. It was tiring just watching Williams (37-1, 27 KOs) work.

The judges had an easy night, scoring it 120-108 and 119-109 (twice). ESPN.com also had it for Williams, 118-110.

The more eye-catching stat, however, came from CompuBox, which credited Williams with throwing a ridiculous 1,086 punches and landing 247 (23 percent). Wright, coming back from a 21-month layoff following his decision loss to Bernard Hopkins for the light heavyweight championship at 170 pounds, got off only 511 blows and landing 116 (23 percent).

Dan Goossen, Williams' outspoken promoter, has long called Williams the most avoided man in boxing. He had a point, too. The reason Williams, a two-time welterweight titleholder, gave up his welterweight title and moved to junior middleweight, and now to middleweight, was because he could not find elite fighters to face him.

It's going to continue to be a problem, for obvious reasons. Who wants to deal with a 6-foot-2 southpaw with a good chin, respectable power and stamina to throw punches in bunches for three minutes of every round?

Oh yeah, there's also his 82-inch reach, which is an inch longer than that of heavyweight titleholder Wladimir Klitschko. Think about that for a minute.

"There is nobody we wouldn't fight," Goossen said. "This was a risky fight and he came out, as far as I'm concerned, as the elite pound-for-pound fighter in the world today."

Goossen may be overstating things a little, but probably not by much.

"He has everything from A to Z, defense, punching power, jab, combinations, you name it and he's got it," Goossen said. "He has everything in the book and then he throws it at you."

He threw it all at the 37-year-old Wright and never stopped. In the first round, he threw 104 punches. He threw 106 in the 12th round. And he never seemed to take a deep breath.

"I felt like it was the first round in the 12th round and that was because of my hard training and running seven miles a day," Williams, 27, said. "It helped my breathing.

"I expected Winky to throw good shots, and he did. We went 12 hard rounds. I anticipated that it would be a tough fight. I would have loved to knock him out, and I am sure he would have loved to knock me out."

Williams sure tried to hurt Wright, but he's got a great chin. Williams did manage to rock him several times, bruised his face and had his left eye nearly completely swollen closed by the 10th round of the entertaining, albeit one-sided, bout.

"This has to put him up there with the pound-for-pound today," Goossen said. "He's a '47-pounder and there was no ring rust on Winky Wright. Winky, I thought, looked tremendous and he took great shots. But Paul has good defense and he throws a ton of punches. He didn't stop throwing punches."

The outcome was academic in the second half of the fight. Williams hurt Wright along the ropes in the ninth and was teeing off on him, especially with his brutal right hook.

Williams just never stopped throwing punches, and after the 10th round even Wright knew he was in desperate trouble as trainer Dan Birmingham told him he needed a knockout to win.

Wright, however, did not blame his long layoff for the loss.

"My timing was off a little bit, but I thought he was winning the fight," Wright said, pulling no punches. "I just couldn't get my punches off. He was very tall and awkward and with very long arms. He was throwing a lot of punches and they were coming from all different directions and I didn't know how to dodge them."

That's an amazing admission from Wright, the former undisputed junior middleweight champion and one of boxing's best pure defensive fighters.

"I had a long layoff but I felt this was a great fight," said Wright, who for years was in a similar position as Williams in that he could not land marquee matches. "This is definitely not my last fight. I'm definitely coming back. I had a long layoff and I am not waiting that long again."

Williams would like to be back in the ring as soon as possible, so now it's up to Goossen to find someone of note to fight his thoroughbred.

"This is why we went up to 160 pounds, because we had to give somebody an advantage or a comfort level that when we got Paul up to 160 it was an even playing field. But it's not," Goossen said. "The bar may be raised and he may have to go to 168. But Paul says he wants to go back to 147. We'll either go to 147 and get his title back, go to 154 and get another title or fight again at 160."

That's easy for Goossen to say. Who's going to want to stand on the other side of the ring from Williams?

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.