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A Look Back at Paul Williams' Unpopular Decision Win and the Scoring

Lee Cleveland Updated
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After being KO'd by Sergio Martinez in November, Paul Williams was looking to make a statement against Erislandy Lara - But unfortunately for Williams, the statement he made wasn't quite what he had in mind.

Despite outpointing, frustrating and physically wearing down Paul Williams during their 12-round, junior-middleweight fight, Erislandy Lara lost a hotly contested majority decision to Paul Williams.  While controversy swirls about the decision, there's nothing controversial about the repercussions of the fight - Lara's stock has gone up while William's continues to sink.

Win or lose, Erislandy Lara made a name for himself last night and boxing fans want to see him fight again very soon.  Paul Williams is in a different situation.  If he was a big 'question-mark' going into the fight, his future as a world class fighter is even more uncertain today.

In his first bout since suffering a one-punch KO to Sergio Martinez last November, the two time champion made no technical adjustments and was repeatedly clocked in the face by hard overhand lefts to the jaw -- the same punch that Martinez, another southpaw, landed to knock Williams out cold.  A southpaw himself, Williams simply has no answer for overhand lefts from other southpaws. 

At ringside, the lanky Williams appeared much larger than his foe - it looked like a middleweight fighting a welterweight.  Although he was the bigger man with the longer reach, Williams didn't use his physical attributes to his advantage. The 6-1 Williams (40-2) preferred to fight at a short distance, allowing the 5-9 Lara (15-1-1) to launch effective combinations to the 'Punisher's head. Moreover, Lara seemed to land the harder, cleaner shots, period...  They were eye-catching, head-snapping shots that drew roars from the crowd.

As Lara appeared to be piling up the points, Williams and his team were powerless to implement the adjustments necessary to stop Lara's assault. It is clear from listening to their conversations between rounds that they thought they were losing as they told Williams he needed a knockout to win prior to the eleventh.

Despite not delivering any last-minute heroics, Williams won by the scores of 114-114, 115-114, 116-114.

Credit to Williams
If nothing else, Williams proved he could continue to press the action and throw punches while eating hard shots. And although Williams wore a bloddied face and was staggered once, he wasn't knocked down, never appeared to be seriously hurt and showed no signs of relenting.

Williams vs Lara Scoring
Despite Williams' disappointing performance, press row was split on who deserved to win. And even those who scored the fight for Lara did so by a relatively narrow margin. Those who favored Williams liked the 'Punisher's' work rate and aggression. They cited Williams threw almost twice as many punches (1,047 to 530), had Lara on the run during the middle rounds and seemed to dictate the tempo during most of the fight. 

FightSaga.com scored the bout in favor of Lara, 115-113.

Lara out-landed Williams and certainly landed the cleaner, more eye-catching shots - But for the judges at ringside, it wasn't enough to win.

Judges Favor Various Styles
Boxing fans under-estimate the importance of the process for selecting judges before fights. Judges, like fans, are a 'mixed bag' with regards to scoring philosophies and their approach to scoring.

Professional fights are scored by the following criteria: Clean punching, effective aggression, ring generalship, overall work-rate and defense.

While most will agree with the aforementioned criteria, people vary with regards to the level of emphasis that should be placed on each element. Regardless of whether you're a judge or simply a fan, you probably have a style preference and - as a result - are biased towards that style. All three judges selected for Williams vs Lara obviously place tremendous emphasis on effective aggression, work-rate and ring generalship - and were probably selected for that reason.  

Conversely, judges who focus most on clean punching and defense would have almost unanimously awarded the fight to Lara.

Leonard vs Hagler
Let's harken back to Leonard vs Hagler. Although PunchStat showed Leonard landed more punches, even besting Hagler in power shots landed, many observers felt Hagler won because he was the effective aggressor, had Leonard retreating and dictated the tempo of the fight. Advocates for Hagler, while admitting their man was outgunned, would simply argue Leonard's efforts (punch-wise) were not enough to offset Hagler's pressure and ring generalship.

Williams vs Lara Stats
According to CompuBox, Lara out-landed Williams 224 to 200 in overall punches and 178 to 161 in power shots. Over twelve rounds, Lara out-landed Williams by an average of just two punches per round and 1.4 power shots per round.  Although I scored the fight for Lara, its conceivable judges who place tremendous emphasis on aggression and work-rate could score the fight for Williams because he threw almost twice as many punches as Lara, pressed the action, had Lara backpedaling and only landed an average of two fewer punches per round than his opponent. 

In the end, victory and defeat are often determined by the style preference(s) of the assigned judges. If all three judges prefer a certain fighting style, it can - and often does - give one fighter a massive advantage. 

Simply put - After the judges were determined for Williams vs Lara, Lara needed a few knockdowns or a stoppage to win the fight.

Williams vs Lara Scorecards


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