In May 2010, just 14 months ago, Paul Williams and Kermit Cintron met at the Home Depot Center in California for effective supremacy at 154 pounds.
It was a highly anticipated match between two top fighters at the peak of their skills.
It's also probably one of the more memorable fights in recent history, simply for how it ended. Cintron went flying through the ropes, landing on a ringside table before sliding to the ground. After an interminable delay, it was decided that Cintron could not continue due to injuries suffered in his fall from the ring.
The speculation started about 15 seconds after he was carted out of the arena.
Fans watched the video of the key moment repeatedly and many argued that Cintron had deliberately flung himself from the ring.
It's impossible to know what really happened on that strange evening, but most assumed that both fighters would resume their conquests of multiple weight divisions when they returned.
It didn't turn out that way.
Williams returned in November for a shot at the middleweight title against Sergio Martinez. The KO delivered by Martinez was the KO of the year for 2010.
Cintron stayed out of the ring for an inexplicable 14 months. Throughout that period, their were rumors of various matchups, but nothing every materialized.
Through some quirk of fate, Williams and Cintron both ended long layoffs on Saturday night on opposite sides of the country. Williams returned to the scene of his devastating KO in Atlantic City while Cintron was in the same arena in California that saw him fly out of the ring.
While the official results of their fights were different, the effective results were the same.
Cintron got drilled for most of his fight against Carlos Molina and lost a lopsided unanimous decision. Williams got drilled for most of his fight against Erislandry Lara and won a close majority decision.
More important than the scorecards is how these two former greats looked—and it wasn't pretty for either.
Neither was able to demonstrate the skills that had carried them to the top of the sport. Both looked bad against fighters that few consider to be overly dangerous.
Being handed a gift victory by the judges does Williams little good. Boxing fans, the pay networks, and—most importantly—boxing promoters know what they saw on Saturday night in Atlantic City, and it was not "The Punisher."
If anything, Williams is in danger of having his nickname summarily changed to "The Punishee" after his last two fights.
With two fighters who have a history together both falling from the top level of the sport, it is time for a crossroads fight.
Put Cintron and Williams in the ring together. Winner gets another shot at the top, loser goes home for good.
We don't know what would have happened in their aborted fight last year, but we can find out which of them has any gas left in the tank now.
For boxing fans, it is sad to see two talented fighters drop off so quickly, but that is the way of the sport.
It's unlikely that we will ever see either truly competitive at the very top level again, but a crossroads fight would give fans an idea of who deserves one more chance.
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