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Williams meets Martinez tonight in Atlantic City

Originally Paul Williams was supposed to be meeting middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City tonight, but Pavlik withdrew from his fight with Williams for the second time.  Enter WBC super welterweight champion Sergio Gabriel Martinez, who is not quite as big of a household name as Pavlik, but may very well pose a greater threat to Williams. 

Williams and Martinez will meet tonight in what is a compelling battle between two southpaws. The twelve round middleweight fight, which will take place at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, is still a pretty decent save. Martinez is a far cry from your average replacement.  He poses more of a stylistic threat to Williams than Pavlik ever did. Possessing that same slippery southpaw style as Carlos Quintana, the only man to pin a loss on the record of Williams back in February of 2008, he is capable of reminding Williams of the trouble he had against Quintana.

Not to discredit Quintana, but I feel as though Williams may have underestimated Quintana when he lost to him.  Such a feeling was proven to be true when Williams met Quintana four months later, in a return engagement, to exact revenge by scoring an impressive first round knockout.  Both combatants have one common opponent; he happens to be former three-time welterweight champion Antonio Margarito. Williams seized the WBO welterweight title with a unanimous decision over Antonio Margarito in July of 2007, while Martinez lost by way of a 7th round TKO against the Tijuana Tornado in February of 2000.  To this day, the loss to Margarito remains Martinez's lone defeat.

In his last fight, Williams proved his worth in the middleweight division, outhussling former junior middleweight champion Winky Wright. Williams' overwhelming work rate kept Wright in a defensive posture for the duration of the twelve round fight, earning him  a lopsided unanimous decision.  Prior to the win over Wright, Williams scored a 8th round TKO over the rugged former two-time junior middleweight champion Verno Phillips in November of 2008.

Back in February, Martinez was held to a highly controversial majority draw against Kermit Cintron, who went to upset undefeated Alfredo Angulo in his next outting.  In what was an extremely awkward and bizzare affair, Martinez dropped Cintron with a straight left hand in the seventh round of their fight and appeared at the time to have scored a knockout. Cintron's knee didn't come out off the canvas until the referee counted ten.  The referee called off the fight, Cintron protested, and the referee allowed the fight to continue.  In any case, Martinez won at least nine clear cut rounds in that fight and was inexcusably held to a draw.

Tonight's matchup is certainly a compelling contrast of styles.  I expect Martinez's speed and ring generalship to give Williams some tough moments throughout the fight, but also believe that Williams is coming into his own at 160lbs and he showed against Wright that he could move pretty well and throw over 100 punches a round.  We'll have to see how the 160lb weight limit effects Martinez, who campaigns at 154lbs by nature.

Williams by unanimous decision.

In the co-feature, Chris Arreola returns from his TKO loss to WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko in September to take on Brian Minto.

Tonight's doubleheader airs live on HBO World Championship Boxing at 9:30 PM ET/ 6:30PM PT.

photo courtesy: boxingvid.com

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