*Photo Credit: Joe Makse, Plain Dealer Reporter Photo
By Robert Brizel, Head Real Combat Media Boxing Correspondent
Rare is the old pugilistic photograph which will inspire intense thought and creative analysis for advanced interpretation. However, such was the case recently when this reporter came upon an old photograph of two long retired warrior champions, Kelly ‘The Ghost’ Pavlik and Paul ‘Punisher’ Williams, dating to December 2009.
Precisely a decade ago, the two boxers stood at the top of the 160 pounds division. Pavlik, 37, 40-2 with 37 knockouts, Youngstown, Ohio, retired in July 2012 at age 30 after winning a 10 round decision over Will Rosinsky. Pavlik has just made his third-and final-successful defense of his World Boxing Council and World Boxing Organization World Middleweight titles with a fifth-round stoppage of Miguel Angel Espino and Beeghly Center in Youngstown in the main event, after knocking Espino down three times.
Pavlik had lost a nontitle bout to Bernard Hopkins at light heavyweight in 2008, and would lost his world middleweight titles to Sergio Martinez in his next bout in 2010.
Williams, 37, 41-2 with 27 knockouts, Aiken, South Carolina, fought his last bout at age 30 in Corpus Christi, Texas, winning every round in a 12 round unanimous decision win over Nobuhiro Ishida in February 2012. On May 27, 2012, a motorcycle accident left Williams partially paralyzed from the waist down with a damaged spinal cord, with only the use of his arms. Barring a stem cell miracle, which modern technology could make possible someday in his lifetime, Williams will never walk again, let alone fight again.
At the time of this photo, Williams had just won a hard fought 12 round majority decision over future middleweight champion Sergio Martinez, with both boxers trading knockdowns in the first round. It was not a stellar performance for Williams, the former WBC and WBO World Welterweight champion moving up in weight. Pavlik’s mistake?
Pavlik opted to defend his world middleweight titles against Martinez in April 2010 in Atlantic City, New Jersey instead. Martinez won the first four rounds, Pavlik the next four rounds, and Martinez won the last four rounds, turning Pavlik’s face into a bloody mess and working the cuts. By the time Martinez had kicked in his superior hand speed and foot speed, Pavlik was unable to hit him. In November 2010, Martinez knocked out Williams in Atlantic City in round two of their rematch. This reporter was present at both bouts.