Remembering Former WBO World Welter Champ Paul “The Punisher” Williams!
By Ken Hissner: The former WBO World Welterweight champion Paul “The Punisher” Williams, 41-2 with 27 knockouts was a week away from meeting Saul “Canelo” Alvarez on May 27, 2012.
While on a motorcycle, Williams was involved in an accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down at the age of 30. His spinal cord was not cut, but it was severely damaged.
“There’s no evidence of any severing,” Dr. Donald P. Leslie said following surgery. “he had a fracture of his spine. The fracture is of the bone. The bone encircles the spinal cord. This spinal cord was injured…and that interferes with the transmission of nerves from above to below….He is injured at the mid-chest level, the mid-thorax, and….was stabilized with instrumentation. His spine was fused.”
Williams, who lived about an hour outside of Atlanta, had ridden his motorcycle from his home to Atlanta the Sunday wedding of one of his brothers. The accident occurred about 8 a.m. as Williams was riding to another brother’s home to get ready for the wedding, which took place later that day.
Williams was wearing a helmet, rode out of his lane to avoid a car that was moving into his lane, but another car was coming toward him in another direction. Williams swerved to avoid the oncoming car, wound up riding up a steep embankment, and lost control of the motorcycle before flying several feet in the air and landing on his back on the road. One of the drivers called 911.
Just one week before the accident, Williams had signed to meet WBC super welterweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (40-0-1, 29 KO’s) on September 17 as the main event for a pay-for-view telecast.
On May 1, 2014, at the Boxing Writers Association of America’s 89th Annual Awards Dinner, Williams received the Bill Crawford Courage Award from the BWWA and was given an honorary WBC championship belt by WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman.
In December of 2009, this writer was there for the then interim Super Welterweight champion Paul Williams, 37-1, and WBC WBO Middleweight champion Sergio Martinez, 44-1-2, (who in April 2010 defeated champion Kelly Pavlik, 36-1, at the same venue for his title) match at Boardwalk Hall, in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Rooting for Martinez I had him behind at the end by one point. They had traded knockdowns in the first round. The final scores in favor of Williams were 119-110, 115-113, and 114-114.
Almost a year later in November 2010, they had a rematch for Martinez’s WBC Middleweight title at the same venue. The fans booed Martinez who, though, the champion was introduced first. This was wrong. In the first round, Martinez set up Williams knocking him to the canvas and out at 1:10 of the round. It was a Catchweight 158 lbs. It was like a Hollywood movie how Martinez came against all odds to win the rematch.
Martinez would go on to win his next five fights before losing his title to Miguel Cotto. Three wins would follow. His previous injury had a lot to lose to Cotto. He at age 46 is scheduled on the 27th of January in Spain in his most recent bout.
Williams after the loss went on to defeat current WBA World Middleweight champion Erislandy Lara at the Boardwalk Hall in July of 2011. In the final bout of his career, he defeated Nobuhiro Ishida in Texas.
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