This Saturday night at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, Sergio Martinez will take on Paul Williams for the second time in 11 months. Their first fight was an epic duel that had both men standing toe-to-toe and giving just as good as they received. Their twelve round phone booth type of affair resulted in the taller Williams narrowly eking out a majority decision.
With the exception of ringside judge Pierre Benoist, who turned in an atrocious score of 119-110 in Williams' favor, most people would say that the fight could have gone the way of either fighter. As soon as the bout ended fans wanted more from Martinez and Williams and now they get the chance to see it again, this time with the World Middleweight Championship on the line.
But it's not just a world title that makes this bout different than the first; let's take a quick look at what other factors change the landscape of their upcoming rematch.
From Plan B to Plan A
For several months prior to stepping into the ring with Martinez, Williams had actually been scheduled, and therefore, training to face then middleweight king, Kelly Pavlik. It wasn't until Pavlik finally withdrew from the bout that Martinez was considered to be an opponent for Williams. Essentially, you can say that both fighters took this bout on short notice. With that being the case, there's just no way they could have been fully prepared for what was in store. This time around there were no last minute changes; they're getting exactly what they signed up for. The respective training camps of both men will most likely have a completely different air to them, which could very well carry on into the fight itself.
Up Close and Personal
These guys spent 36 hellacious minutes in the ring with one another a little less than a year ago. In their minds, they have an idea of what to expect from the other. They also have a better idea of what worked for them as well as what got them into some trouble. Sergio Martinez has already stated on numerous occasions that he's planning on moving out of the pocket while attacking from all sorts of different angles unlike the first time around. If his plan of attack differs, you can be sure that the way Williams reacts to Martinez will have to change as well.
A New Beginning
Mike Tyson once said, "Everyone has a plan until they get hit." In the first fight, both combatants came out hard and fast trading knockdowns within the first three minutes. It appeared that any sort of game plan either guy had was thrown out the window once that happened. They both smelled blood and went for the kill.
If I'm correct, Martinez and Williams will start off at a slower pace which will keep both guys from straying from what was drawn up in the gym and merely relying on adrenaline and instinct, very possibly leading to a much more technical fight than we witnessed last December.
What Have You Done For Me Lately?
Both Williams and Martinez are heading into this rematch in very different circumstances than they were a year ago. Paul Williams, often referred to as "the most feared man in boxing", was taking on a relatively unknown fighter in Martinez. His fight with Williams put Martinez on the map and he parlayed that momentum into a title fight with Kelly Pavlik where he pulled off the upset to earn the World Middleweight Championship. Williams, on the other hand, looked less than spectacular in an odd bout with Kermit Cintron. The momentum is clearly on the side of Martinez as he seems to be getting better and better with each outing since his own clash with Cintron as he's fighting with a new sense of confidence.
Given the styles of both fighters, in no way do I anticipate a boring night in the squared circle. I still fully expect Martinez and Williams to trade enough to keep the fans on the edge of their seats, yet I can't help but feel that this time there's going to be a more skillful and tactical approach taken by both of them. I do expect a close fight and don't plan on seeing another lopsided scorecard by a judge clearly favoring the known fighter.
Just like the first time, it's going to be a good fight and it's going to be a close fight.
But this time around it's going to be Sergio Martinez' night.
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