QUINTANA UPSETS WILLIAMS FOR WBO TITLE
In the wake of his victory over Antonio Margarito last July, Paul Williams was dubbed the most feared fighter in boxing, and rightfully so. After all, how do you approach a fight against 6’1″ welterweight with a reach two inches longer than Muhammad Ali’s, a southpaw stance, and the energy to sustain a pace of over a hundred punches a round? Fellow southpaw Carlos Quintana, who accepted the fight when IBF Champion Kermit Cintron pulled out due to injuries, apparently had no fear of Williams. What he did have was a terrific game plan as Quintana demonstrated how such an upset is pulled when he topped Williams for the WBO Championship Saturday night.
Aside from a crushing knockout loss to Miguel Cotto late in 2006, which some still claim was produced by an illegal kidney shot, Quintana had no other losses on his resume, which included a dominant victory over power punching prospect Joel Julio, yet few gave the exceptional boxer a good chance of besting the newest face on the welterweight scene, the undefeated Williams, who came into the fight having added a Mohawk to his length list of unusual attributes. Quintana, however, came to let his hands fly and used a difficult southpaw style to become the even newer face on the scene of boxing’s hottest and wildest division.
From the get-go, Quintana’s plan was apparent. An underrated boxer, he employed guerilla tactics, sneaking in jabs to Williams’ long body from the southpaw stance and getting out of the way before eating any leather, although the champion caught the Puerto Rican challenger with a hard left hand on one such attempt to pull out. The fight started getting sloppy as Quintana began hurling wild punches and suffered a five punch rally from Williams. Quintana’s answer came fast as he found Williams with a left hand across the face, followed by a right hook. The boxers traded left hands immediately thereafter, piquing the crowd’s interest with the unexpected brawl that was developing before its eyes. During another exchange, Williams knocked Quintana’s head back with a left hand but caught a right hook over the side of the head from the challenger in return. Quintana followed up with a body shot before coming up with a crunching right hook to Williams’ jaw to claim an intense opening round as his own.
Williams tried to get his jab going in round two, but Quintana drilled him with a right hook-straight left combination moments in. A sweeping left hand turned Williams’ head as well as Quintana began clipping the champion. Quintana measured Williams before slamming his head aside with another hard left, having no trouble finding his large target. Midway through the round, they stood and traded punches, but Quintana continued to get the best of the action. To prove his domination, Quintana hammered Williams with a straight left through the guard as the fight became increasingly one-sided. The third round was more of the same as Quintana was able to land lead lefts on the ever open Williams. Williams offered up a bit of a rally in the last thirty seconds and landed his fair share of punches in round four, but it wasn’t enough to put him back in control. The Puerto Rican fighter who was embarrassed at the hands of Cotto was running ram shod over an undefeated, unorthodox champion.
A straight left across Quintana’s face allowed Williams to open up with some of his better shots early in round five, and the Puerto Rican wisely held on to avert taking too much damage. Working behind the jab, Williams caught Quintana with another straight left that earned him his first clear round as Quintana briefly abandoned his strategy and resorted to holding and roughhouse tactics. Williams continued to find his opponent more in the sixth, leaning in and landing a hard left to Quintana in the corner. A right hook during one exchange snapped Quintana’s head aside, and although Quintana continued landing more punches, Williams was landing the bigger shots. The point was hammered home when Quintana connected with a good straight left, but Williams came back with a better one before the end of the round.
Williams looked to continue to build momentum in round seven, but after shaking Quintana up with a solid right hook that rattled the challenger’s head, the champion fell victim to three killer left hands from Quintana, who edged the round with his successful late antics. Taking bigger breaths when the action stopped, Quintana appeared to tire compared to his performance in the first six rounds, but while he was throwing less punches, he was making them count and doing what he had to in order to stay in control. Williams went back to his right hook in the eighth round, snapping off several in a row to the head of Quintana and returned to his stool having made up for some lost ground early in the fight but now sporting a cut over his left eye in addition to his new Mohawk.
In the ninth round, Quintana clobbered Williams with a hard left hand to the side of the head before bullying the bigger champion into the ropes. When Williams tried to regain his advantage with the jab, Quintana opted to brawl and banged home several big left hands despite his mouth hanging open in exhaustion. Quintana’s heroics brought forth chants of “Indio” from the crowd as Williams walked into another hard straight left before giving up a crucial round and returning to his corner with an even worse cut over his right eye. With Quintana landing jabs and straight lefts on Williams virtually at will throughout the tenth round, the bloodied champion was in dangerous territory heading into the most important rounds of the fight.
Williams knew he had to land some big shots if he wanted to retain his title and threw often, but Quintana was a counter punching machine in round eleven, catching the aggressive champion with some stiff punches, including a big left across Williams’ bloody cheek. Realizing he most likely needed a knockdown or at least some knockdowns to win, Williams went for the kill in the twelfth round, but Quintana forced an ugly fight on the desperate champion, holding whenever necessary to smother the surging Williams. A frustrated Williams pushed Quintana into a corner and beat on his head, shoulders, and eventually exposed face until the final bell, but while he won the round, it was not enough for him to win the fight.
The judges turned in respectable cards of 115-113 and 116-112 twice, awarding the unanimous decision to Quintana. Most of the rounds had been decisive, especially those won by Quintana, who proved himself an elite fighter with outstanding skills capable of taking on the division’s best and exposing their greatest flaws. Williams was grateful in losing, congratulating Quintana on his win and refusing to make excuses because there simply were none to be made. Quintana fought the fight of his life and brought a southpaw style that Williams was unprepared to handle. A rematch, which appears to be a possibility, could certainly play out differently and would undoubtedly attract more attention than the first go around, which was an excellent fight untainted by controversy or lulls in the action. Quintana now solidifies himself as a major player in the division, but Williams will not go away after one loss. Both men are of championship caliber and will fight again, perhaps against each other, on the championship level.
BERTO BEATS UP TRABANT
29 year old veteran welterweight Michel Trabant of Germany made his first appearance fighting in the United States when he took on undefeated American prospect Andre Berto, who welcomed his opponent with a good old fashioned beat down.
Berto kicked off the bludgeoning affair with a straight right-left hook combination to Trabant. Trabant found brief success with his jab, but Berto’s hand speed allowed him to keep his opponent on the defensive as he pounded shots into Trabant’s gloves. Berto proceeded to land some quality jabs of his own and a right hand to the body of Trabant. In round two, Berto went on the attack early, snapping Trabant’s head back with a straight right-left combination through the gloves. Moments later, however, Trabant pinned Berto against the ropes, catching the undefeated American with a right hand across the mouth, followed by a body shot from the other side, but Berto took the punches well. He leapt in and answered with a pair of left hooks to Trabant, one to the head and one to the body. Through two rounds, Trabant was game, but Berto was hitting him with the effective punches. The redness around his eyes and forehead schematically revealed exactly where Berto’s punches were catching the German.
In the third round, Berto stunned Trabant with a left hook, followed by an uppercut. From there, Berto bounced a covering Trabant around the ring, landing a hard right hand and another uppercut. Yet another uppercut nearly lifted Trabant’s head from his shoulders as the fight suddenly grew one-sided to the point where both Referee Raul Caíz Jr. and the ringside doctor took a gander in Trabant’s corner after the round ended. When the fight resumed, Berto continued his assault, utilizing his jab in round four until Trabant caught him laying back with another right on the ropes after which Berto went back to work with uppercuts and hooks. By the fifth round, Trabant, after absorbing nearly every punch in the book, had committed himself almost completely to defense. When he did throw, he paid for it, eating a crunching right hand from Berto just before the bell.
Round six would be the last of the fight as Berto ripped Trabant with a left hook to the side of the head before going down with one to the body and coming back upstairs with one across the face. Berto whacked Trabant with an overhand right, an uppercut, and another overhand right as the German veteran covered up and tried to survive, which he managed to do. While Berto beamed at the crowd following the bell, Caíz Jr. examined a weary Trabant in the corner and promptly waved the fight off. It was the first stoppage loss of Trabant’s nearly fifty fight career; thus, Berto came out of a fight against an unimpressive opponent with an impressive win.
After 21 fights, Berto should be officially removed from the prospect list and placed among title contenders. He is, after all, the number one ranked welterweight in at least one organization’s rankings. Fighting in the jam packed welterweight division, Berto and his trainers have been wise to move slowly, but Andre has defeated enough cake opponents and needs to look towards meaningful fights. There are as many as five quality welterweights in the division’s second tier that Berto should consider stepping up against, including names like Luis Collazo, Zab Judah, or Antonio Margarito, who all have the serious pop that Berto’s opponent have so far lacked. Berto has shown the craft of a potentially great fighter, but 2008 is the year to prove it.