Dear Mr. Williams,
While I’ve never been a huge fan of yours, I always respected your character inside and outside the ring. I always respected the fact that you came to fight no matter whom the opponent was even if I disagreed with how you could have better utilized your long frame by fighting on the outside more than mixing it up on the inside. Well, I guess that’s what made you who you were, a fearless fighter mixing it up whenever possible using your punches in bunches style to outwork and smother your opponent.
The road for a boxer has its ups and downs and you certainly had your fair share of each. When news got around that you were going to be the next man to take on rising Mexican superstar “Canelo” Alvarez on September 15, like many I was excited because I felt you not only had a chance to test the young Mexican star but also beat him. It was also going to be the first time you were going to be involved in a pay-per-view main event on what’s becoming a regular boxing holiday, Mexican Independence Day weekend. For years you chased the top 3 U.S. draws (Mayweather, Pacquiao, and Cotto) in the sport for a pay-per-view showdown at the welterweight division but you were too high risk, low reward for all 3. But finally, you got your shot to headline a pay-per-view with one of the sport’s rising stars on a prime date in the schedule.
Then the news hit. I got a text from a friend while at a family barbecue. The text said, “I guess the Canelo-PWill fight is off.” When I read that I figured you injured yourself in sparring or you injured yourself in a training regimen of some sort. Then I go to my twitter feed and saw how serious the situation was; that you were injured in a motorcycle accident.You were told you would never walk again and that you are scheduled to have a surgery to stabilize whatever function of your spinal cord that was not totally damaged to keep your upper body from being paralyzed.
To say the least, I was shocked, hurt, and contemplating who you were as a boxer inside the ring. Did we not appreciate you much while you were at the top of your game? You beat Antonio Margarito in a war in 2007 by outworking one of the best pressure fighters in boxing and winning your first world title. The crazy aspect of that fight when you look back on it, one can only wonder if Margarito had his wraps illegally wrapped for that fight which in my eyes only makes that win more masterful
You had a stumble against Carlos Quintana in your next fight which would be a start of a trend that you were much more susceptible to southpaws than orthodox fighters. But the one thing we learned about you from the loss; that unlike most fighters today, you actually wanted to redeem your loss and that you did with a first round TKO of Quintana in the rematch leaving no doubt who the better boxer of the two of you was.
You outclassed Verno Phillips and made Winky Wright look his age. Then, because no big name at 147 and 154 wanted a piece of you, you decided to make a trek to the middleweight division and take on then middleweight champion of the world Kelly Pavlik. Many were excited for this fight and were disappointed when Pavlik pulled out leaving you once again without a meaningful fight. However, a replacement came along in Sergio Martinez, and you two waged a war in December 2009. In many people’s opinions this was the fight of the year where you traded knockdowns in the first round and traded plenty of heavy blows throughout the fight. In the end you were awarded a majority decision in a fight that could have gone either way.
After a tough fight like that you could have taken a soft touch but you chose to trek back down to the 154lb in 2010 and face Kermit Cintron who was fresh off 2 victories; one of them impressively out boxing feared slugger Alfredo Angulo. One can never knows what to expect in boxing, especially in that fight when Cintron looked like he threw himself out of the ring and decided not to continue in the 4th round. You were awarded the victory on the scorecards but we could tell you were not satisfied with the outcome and that spoke to your character.
The same year, you decided to get it on with the hottest name in boxing and rematch Sergio Martinez in November of 2010. I attended this event expecting a war of epic proportions. However, in the second round with one accurate overhand left, Martinez knocked you out cold and it was one of the most devastating knockouts I had ever seen. The image of that fight with Martinez celebrating with a crown and you laying there motionless was surreal to say the least.
I figured you were done being an elite fighter and some even suggested you retire. You, however, had a different plan. Once again most would have expected a soft touch, but you chose to get back in there with another southpaw and someone I regarded as a top 10 154lber in Cuban native, Erislandy Lara, in 2011. In a fight where Lara landed the similar overhand left repeatedly that Martinez knocked you down with, you still had the chin to keep you up. If was one thing was evident, was your struggle with southpaws, but to your credit you fought back. I had Lara winning the fight 8 rounds to 4 but you won the fight in a fight where many disagreed with the outcome.
In your return from that questionable decision, you beat Nobuhiro Ishida this past February. While I still wasn’t declaring the Punisher back, you certainly were throwing like the old Punisher. Fast forward to the news we got this weekend of your horrible accident. As I’ve chronicled in this letter, you have plenty of heart and strong will to triumph from past defeats. You’ve been in plenty of wars in the ring and now you are in a war to move all of your ligaments again. It was good to hear that you were in good spirits after the accident claiming that you will do standup comedy one day. If that happens that means you defeated the odds and have come back from another knockdown.
While I never agreed with the way you fought in the ring sometimes because of your frame, I will say you will be missed in the ring. You were a bright spot in a dark sport. I will miss the punches in bunches. I will miss the 100,000 “nah I’m sayings” in your interviews. I will miss your willingness to take on all comers, and more importantly we will just miss having you as a warrior in our sport. While boxing might be the last thing on your mind, I wish you the best in surgery and hopefully one day that you can move like you did before this tragic accident and hope that as a man that has given his all to boxing can recover to one day enjoy your family.