Round-by-round updates below. The final scorecard of the night has been posted. Please let me know your thoughts and comments in the comment box below. What happens to the two fighters after tonight's fight?
Sergio Martinez vs. Paul Williams II, one of the most highly-anticipated boxing matches of the year, takes place tonight at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J., and can be watched live on HBO at 9 p.m. EST.
Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Dave Carlson (who recently covered the Pacquiao-Margarito from ringside in Dallas with Nick Tylwalk and King J) will be live blogging the event and providing a round-by-round scorecard. Refresh early and often, as updates will be posted below. The action starts at 10 p.m. EST on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2010.
In their first bout, which was signed on short notice after a previous Williams fight had fallen through, Martinez performed admirably, as both fighters traded knockdowns in an action-packed first round that was decided via majority decision for Paul "The Punisher" Williams, long considered one of the most avoided fighters in the world.
The decision, however, was controversial: Julie Lederman scored it a 114-114 tie, Lynne Carter had it 115-113 for Williams and Pierre Benoist awarded Williams a ridiculous 119-110 scorecard.
Sergio Martinez, a quick and crafty Argentine southpaw, now holds the WBC and WBO middleweight titles after his impressive win over Kelly Pavlik on April 17 of this year.
Meanwhile, Paul Williams has also only had one fight since his win last December against Martinez. However, Williams' fight against Kermit Cintron ended dubiously when Cintron stumbled through the ropes and injured his head, prompting the fight to be called off in Round Four, with Williams being awarded an unimpressive technical decision win.
Both fighters are among the top-six pound-for-pound fighters according to Ring Magazine, and it is highly likely that the winner could move up to No. 3 (just behind Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, Jr.) in the P4P rankings after this fight.
The 6'1" Williams is tall, awkward and unceasing—delivering a constant stream of punches once he finds his rhythm. He has only lost once (a loss to Carlos Quintana, which Williams later avenged via an overwhelming first round TKO), and enters the fight 39-1, having won his last six fights.
The 5'10" Martinez is a much smaller fighter who relies on speed, accuracy and excellent spacing. He is 45-2, losing only to Williams last year and Antonio Margarito as a young fighter in 2000. He would be a highly marketable champion, for reasons recently covered in the article "Sergio Martinez, Not Manny Pacquiao, is the Most Important Man in Boxing."
A win would boost his career tremendously, and at age 35, it couldn't come any sooner for the hard-working Argentine who has just recently become a top-tier fighter.
Tony Thompson vs. Paul Marinaccio.
This fight was an absolute snoozer. 4 rounds of dull, uninteresting heavyweight "action."
Zsolt Erdei vs. Samson Onyango
10:10 ET - Undefeated Hungarian Zsolt Erdei outpoints Samson Onyango, winning a 79-73, 80-72, 80-72 unanimous decision victory. This is Erdei's first fight back since his retirement, and he looked good. Didn't get the knockout but impressed us. Up next, Fernando Guerrero vs. Saul Duran in an 8-round middleweight bout.
Fernando Guerrero vs. Saul Duran
10:16 ET - Guerrero is an undefeated young prospect and he looks very powerful against an overmatched Duran. Duran is getting rocked hard by hooks, and though he keeps coming in, he simply can't contend with Guerrero's speed. This fight could be stopped early, but Duran makes it through the first round. Still, a clearly dominant round for Guerrero. Carlson: 10-9 Guerrero
10:22 ET - Guerrero still clearly dominant and staggers Duran slightly. Still, you get the sense he's not landing his punches as well as he can. A minute into the round, a strong left knocks down Duran. He makes it up, and starts to fight with a higher peek-a-boo defensive style. Still, even if Guerrero is only hitting gloves, it's still knocking Duran off balance. The southpaw Guerrero is doing a good job with spacing and positioning, not knocking feet often. Round 2 is a 10-8 round for Guerrero. Cumulative scorecard: 20-17 Fernando Guerrero.
10:27 ET - Duran is definitely fighting with a lot of heart at the beginning of round 3, but his punches don't seem to be landing. Guerrero has an extraordinary right hook that he uses a lot more than his right-handed jab. Guerrero doesn't look to be finishing right now, and is up against the ropes two minutes into the round. He's still countering well, but it's not the best positioning for him. Just like that, he lands a good right hook/uppercut and gets off the ropes. His right hook is landing consistently. Another dominant round, though not as strong as the first two. Round 3: Carlson 10-9 Guerrero. Cumulative scorecard: 30-26 Fernando Guerrero. A ring doctor was taking a look at Duran's face between rounds, but he seems fine at this point.
10:31 ET - Guerrero lands a lot of flurries in round 4, and knocks Duran down early in the round. Duran takes a knee, and doesn't get back up, and the fight is called off at the 8 count. Good stoppage by the referee at 1:06 of Round 4. TKO Guerrero. 20-0 record now for Fernando Guerrero, 16 knockouts. He looked impressive tonight. Saul Duran, if he wasn't a shot fighter before tonight, is looking like a man who should retire. He had heart, but no speed. Impressive win for Guerrero.
10:32 ET - We see a clip of Paul Williams jumping rope in his locker room. He's wearing lime green trunks with a black trim on the side. Looks sharp, from just a cursory glance. Williams always manages to look very much in-shape, and always looks like Paul Williams. Since there were some questions about Martinez's weight, so it'll be interesting to see how that plays. We're now seeing a look back at Martinez-Williams I, starting from round 6 of that first bout.
10:40 ET - A lull in the action right now, as we're watching a recap of the first fight. What will the strategy of Martinez be in this fight? He looked really good early in the first fight, but his defense was affected and he lost a fair bit of his speed and power later in the fight. Martinez is a very talented and well-conditioned fighter, but he's not getting younger, and Paul "The Punisher" Williams is unrelenting. At the same time, he definitely can get knocked down early in fights, and Martinez is quick enough to be able to finish if he infiltrates Williams' defense . Still, I think Williams is slightly favored. Let me know your predictions in the comments.
10:52 ET - Still watching a replay of the end of the previous bout. They're spending a lot of time replaying the whole end of the fight. We're at the part in the 11th round where Martinez seemed to slip on his own feet. This fight was an excellent one, and the 11th round was one of its better ones. Constant trading, but I think the strategy works better for Williams because Martinez is set apart by his speed and ability to move in and out of range. I think Martinez will be wise to keep this strategy in this fight, or it could be short. Looking back at what happened in the first fight, it's amazing that it wasn't fight of the year. Amazing boxing and thrilling action.
10:59 ET - Rewatching the 12th round of their classic original fight from last December. Martinez definitely slowed and tired at the end of the fight, but surprisingly his punching power didn't seem to be too affected - just his ability to land it. Still, Williams closes extraordinarily well, and never tires. Martinez, on the other hand isn't getting any younger. We'll see shortly how his camp prepared for this fight. The strategy might be the most important aspect of what changes between the first fight and this one. The big fight will be starting shortly.
11:03 ET - We see a clip of Martinez warming up in his dressing room. He looks sharp in black trunks with red trim. His punches look crisp, but as Mike Tyson said "Everyone has a plan until he gets hit in the head." The lights have been turned back on inside the venue. The fight is just minutes away.
11:07 ET - The venue looks completely filled. I'm interested to hear the numbers that come in for this bout. What an amazing November this has been, and next week won't be bad either, with Marquez-Katsidis, Froch-Abraham and Andre Ward vs. Sakio Bika. If you don't have a Showtime subscription, it might not be a bad idea to get one this week to see two excellent Super Middleweight bouts. HBO looks good next week too. It's hard to believe that I'm not paying Pay Per View prices to watch this extraordinary boxing match between Williams and Martinez. They're taking a long time to start introducing the fight, but the anticipation is building. You can even see it... palpable excitement and anticipation in the crowd.
11:09 ET - One of the frustrating things about boxing is that if there are short undercard matches, the TV programmers aren't ashamed to buy some serious time before getting to the main event. Still, the best things in life are worth waiting for.
Paul Williams vs. Sergio Martinez II
11:11 ET - Williams begins his walk toward the ring. He's dressed up in a green and black robe, and looks like he's concentrating. During the ring entrance, he walks solemnly before breaking out his charming smile. The announcers are talking about Mayweather wanting the winner of this fight. When you see Williams around other people in the ring, his physical stature is even more apparent.
11:14 ET - Martinez begins his walk into the ring. He looks vigorous. Good looking robe, black on the back with "Sergio Maravilla Martinez" on there, and red sleeves nand belt. He looks upbeat entering the ring. Michael Buffer is announcing the names now.
11:16 ET - Michael Buffer's introductions reminded me that this fight is being promoted by Dibella Entertainment and Goosen-Tutor Productions. It's nice to see some names that aren't Golden Boy, Top Rank, and Don King. Let's get ready to rumble.
A trim Martinez is introduced. 45-2-2 with 24 knockouts. Reigning middleweight champ. It looks like he had no trouble making weight.
Williams looks pumped up now. Smooth. 37-1, 29 knockouts. He's smiling and looks extraordinarily confident.
"Let's Get Ready to Rumble!"
11:20 ET - Good show of sportsmanship, and Williams looks a bit stronger in the opening minutes, but Martinez is landing accurately. A 7-inch reach advantage is hard to overcome without moving inside and using your speed. It's great to see two talented southpaws in the ring together. Halfway through, the round is really close. Both guys have landed well, but haven't landed anything exceptional. Martinez unloads with a flurry at 1:10 remaining in the round. Martinez has a funny style where he looks like he's tired or something, but he's clearly not. He's landing some good head shots. Very tough round to score. Williams probably landed more, but the big shots came from Martinez. This fight is looking like it could capture some of the last fight's magic. Round 1 - Carlson: 10-9 Martinez
11: 25 ET - These guys just put together exceptional fights. Williams seems to be landing a bit more early in Round 2, but Martinez has good defensive instincts. Martinez lands a huge shot and Williams goes down! Knockout for Sergio Martinez! Round 2.
Amazing victory for Martinez! Astounding left hand caught Williams off-guard. Martinez's corner puts a crown on him. Williams is still down. What an amazing knockout. Maybe not fight of the year, but definitely a knockout of the year candidate.
11:27 ET - A replay confirms that Martinez caught Williams while Williams was walking in to land a power punch. Williams' head was moving and Martinez's extraordinary accuracy and surprising power pulled it off. The hottest man in boxing is Sergio Martinez. He is now the frontrunner for fight of the year and a fight with Mayweather or Pacquiao. What a shot! Martinez had good head movement while Williams was coming in for the punch. I think we all underestimated Martinez in this bout. Stunning victory!
11:30 ET - Kellerman agrees that it was probably knockout of the year. Question from Kellerman: Where do you go from here? Martinez gives a diplomatic answer: I want to hear offers and see what comes in. Martinez breaks up the interview to show respect to Paul Williams.
Kellerman: Do you want to fight Mayweather or Pacquiao at a catchweight fight? How far will you go?
Martinez: I would have to hear offers. 156 lbs would be fine, but I want to hear offers.
Final words from Martinez - thank you, and I want to thank everyone who came for the fight. Thank you Latinos, everyone from Spain, everyone from Argentina, and my family.
Williams seems conscious and aware. He knows what happened, and he said that he felt good and simply got caught by a punch. I agree: he looked good and before the knockout punch, I was leaning toward giving Williams the round.
What happens next in his career is up for debate, but he may not be the most avoided fighter in boxing. Meanwhile, I'm feeling good about my Martinez article calling him the most important man in boxing. For true boxing fans, this win is much, much bigger than Pacquiao's decision over Margarito. People who questioned Martinez have no reason to now. I think he is now unquestionably the #3 Pound for Pound fighter in boxing.
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