Media Interview with Paul Williams & Erislandy Lara
DAN GOOSSEN: Paul Williams vs. Erislandy Lara will be in association with Golden Boy Promotions also with my good friends for many years Luis DeCubas and his son Junior. We expect a very competitive fight with two-time world amateur champion Lara, undefeated and now living in Miami, FL. The fight will be at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall in the ballroom and Caesars Atlantic City will be our gracious host and thanks to Don Marandino and Ken Condon for the great job they do. Paul has had some great successes there and obviously the loss with Martinez last year coming off the heels of his win against Martinez that was one of the fights-of-the-year in 2009. We’ve also added Chris Arreola to the event – he will be fighting Friday Abunanya in a 10-round bout. In addition we have a 12-round WBA super bantamweight championship bout – the champion from Japan, Akifumi Shimoda against Rico Ramos, the undefeated No. 1 super bantamweight in the world today.
PAUL WILLIAMS: Hi everybody. I just want to say I am blessed to be back in the ring and put on a good show on July 9th. I can’t wait to get back in there to show everybody that I’m not washed up and that the knockout did not overcome me. This is what I do.
DAN GOOSSEN: A Lot of great champions have gotten stopped over the years and gotten stopped with one punch. That is a staple of our business. And George will tell you the same thing. Lennox Lewis comes to mine, Vladimir Klitschko also.
GEORGE PETERSON: Of course if I had to write Paul’s last chapter, I would have to hope that the situation wouldn’t have happened with Martinez in his last fight such as it did. Because you know every great champion gets to a point where they want to show they are a true champion. Paul has achieved everything that he can except to show his greatness. This loss that happened gives him an opportunity to show his greatness and there is no other way it could happen. Paul Williams will be back July 9th.
Going back to the place where you had biggest victory and biggest defeat…
PAUL WILLIAMS: I got a lot of love from Atlantic City and I want to give my love right back. I really don’t care where the fight is at, but I’m glad it is in Atlantic City – I just want to fight. I feel good that it is in Atlantic City.
GEORGE PETERSON: It doesn’t matter where it is. Paul is an entertainer and he wants to entertain. He just needs the opportunity.
DAN GOOSSEN: Paul said it best. He’s got some terrific fans in Atlantic City and there is no better place than to go there and perform again. We have our obstacles we have to overcome and this is just another one. This is what makes true champions. Paul Williams is a 3-time world champion and I guarantee he will be a 4-time world champion.
Do you think Paul still has the reputation of a fighter people want to avoid?
PAUL WILLIAMS: I don’t think anything has changed because you still need to talk people to get in there and fight me. I think everything has been going the same.
GEORGE PETERSON: We don’t want to fight down. We want to fight up. I don’t know how many champions or ex-champions Paul has fought. Paul has been fighting everybody that no one has wanted to fight. That has happened and he got stopped in his last fight and now you are nailing this guy to the cross. He can’t wait and I can’t wait until this is resolved.
DAN GOOSSEN: I am not too much for arguing against anyone’s opinion. I have no problem with them. Let them take the side that they want. Everyone has detractors, even the Greatest of All Time, Muhammad Ali, has his detractors. Not only in defeat, but also in victory. The key is to get Paul back into the ring and show that the reputation he built up was well-deserved and I believe he’ll go out there on July 9 and accomplish that. I believe we are going to be right back to where we were. We all believe Paul is going to come back stronger and better than ever because there is something about great champions coming back from adversity that makes them a better champion.
Are you motivated by “people jumping off the bandwagon?”
PAUL WILLIAMS: It really doesn’t bother me if they jump on or jump off. I just want to go in there and put on a really good show for the people that are my fans that really love me.
Since the loss, Paul has been quiet…
PAUL WILLIAMS: No reason. The way I look at it, I took some time off to have some fun. Now it’s back to business. Now why I never said anything – if I did say something – people would still have their opinions. I have to prove to them again, when I get in the ring to do my best. People just may be wondering what’s going on.
Going back, would you change anything in the Martinez fight or was it just the one punch?
GEORGE PETERSON: There are no adjustments for that punch. It is a punch that is not seen. You can’t make an adjustment for something you cannot see. It’s like the wind blowing. We can’t see the wind, but it’s there. I have been hearing quite a lot about that punch and if we made an adjustment. You don’t go to the gym every day and practice for a punch you don’t see. It’s as simple as that.
DAN GOOSSEN: We thought we were going to go with Ishida, but as the talks progressed, from the prospective of all of us, Lara was the more capable opponent. And George touched on it earlier; there really is no one Paul ever declined to face. There is something to be said about fighting young, hungry lions. Lara has been around like most of the Cuban fighters throughout the years and has a storied amateur background. These guys are tough fighters and you can’t look past them. But on the other hand they come with great credentials and it’s a great platform for Paul Williams.
Will there be a change in style?
GEORGE PETERSON: Paul Williams’ style has gotten him 39 wins out of 41 fights. In addition to that, Paul has a wind over everyone that he fought. I see no reason, if you have 39 wins out of 41 fights; you want to change the style. If something is working, you keep it working. That’s what happens in boxing. We’ll go with what’s working. What’s working is what we’ll go with.
Will there ever be a Williams-Martinez 3?
PAUL WILLIAMS: It’s up to the fans and everybody. I’m down for it. I plan on 3 more fights. My manager is telling me 2 more. Once we get by Lara and the fans want it and HBO wants it – I want it.
DAN GOOSSEN: Believe me, the fans, HBO everyone will want it. It is a fight we’d love to do and I know Martinez’ promoter Lou DiBella has made certain comments regarding the presentation of it. I’m not going to get into that now, but the bottom line is, we’ve got a tough nut to crack on July 9 with Lara. As has been true to Paul throughout his career, there has been no one that he wouldn’t fight.
What are your opinions of the weight class you’ll be fighting in?
PAUL WILLIAMS: It doesn’t matter to me. Everyone talks about me as the ‘catch-weight king.’ Whatever weight they want me to be at is the weight where I’ll go. ’54, ’47, and ’50 – whatever weight Mr. Peterson, Dan and Al decide to go with, I’m there for it.
DAN GOOSSEN: Nothing has changed. He is going out there and showing the Punishment style again. Whether it is his weight or another division, it doesn’t matter.
Was Lara an ideal guy to make a comeback?
PAUL WILLIAMS: It didn’t matter to me who it was, as long as it was a live body that had some skills. I leave that to Mr. Peterson, Al and Dan.
GEORGE PETERSON: Like Paul mentioned, we just needed somebody in the ring to come back with. Somebody that we can make a statement on. This guy is supposed to be an outstanding fighter. 300 and some amateur fights and he’s 16-0 and he’s got power. So hey, it’s just as well him or anybody else. What we need to do here is get this win. Every time we step in the ring, we know there is a possibility of him winning and a possibility of him losing. Our focus is winning and that’s it.
PAUL WILLIAMS: I am going to make a statement regardless. I’m going to show him when I get in there and show my true greatness. For me, that is the best guy to get in the ring with – a guy that can take a punch. People that think I’m washed up I can prove to them it’s not so. That is going to be the statement – me getting back in the ring to prove my point.
DAN GOOSSEN: The key is keeping it on the same vein. We move forward with Paul’s career since we’ve been together to get someone to make the media to believe it’s a great comeback fight. It’s a tough one, whether he’s a puncher or a mover, he’s a qualified challenger. The best way to make a statement, whether you knock him out or beat him in 12-rounds, is to make it against someone that is considered a formidable foe. That’s what we’ve got here on July 9th. You don’t know what can happen when you walk in the ring – win or lose but we’ve been in this business long enough to know that it’s a gamble no matter how many rounds it is. In most cases, you’ve got two men who want to win badly. There is always a risk but you lessen that risk with someone like a Paul Williams, who’s going to go out there and prepare himself for whoever is going to be in that ring.
Were there problems finding a name guy as an opponent?
DAN GOOSSEN: When it comes to finding opponents for Paul Williams it has always been a problem, which is why we have him fight at 147, 154 and 160. Paul and George as always have been willing to do it. Rather then anyone turning down a fight, we were looking for someone to present a formidable task for Paul. The Ishida possibility had some sexiness to it because he stopped Kirkland in the first round. Lara obviously brings a whole new attitude – 300 amateur fights, 2-time amateur world champion, undefeated pro. It was more or less what we were looking for and we got that in Lara and that’s where we are.
GEORGE PETERSON: If you’ve ever seen a Paul Williams fight, you know it’s not a sleeping pill. You’re not going to go to sleep on a Paul Williams fight. Most opponents know they have to fight 12-rounds. There are not going to be any points of rest in a Paul Williams fight. Most of the guys don’t want opponents such as that – throwing 100 punches a round and who will throw more punches in the 12th round than the 1st round. Paul could fight at 147 and 154 – he is not a middleweight and could never make middleweight. The highest he can ever get and that is eating breakfast the day of the weigh-in is 157 lbs. This guy has been fighting out of his chosen weight class for the longest time. He’ll fight anybody anytime and if you happen to look up his opponents, you’ll find they are guys that no one else would fight. If I had another fighter would I fight Paul Williams? No, I wouldn’t fight him.
PAUL WILLIAMS: I would love a gimme fight but they don’t ever give me those kinds of fights. When I retire, I want my kids to say, ‘he never ducked anybody. That’s what I am building my legacy on. When people look at me, I want to remind them of a throwback fighter. I want to fight the best guys that no one else will fight. ‘You put on a great show, whether you win or lose.’ I am making my own history.
PAUL WILLIAMS: I plan on fighting 2 or 3 more times. My manager wants 2. Before I hang my gloves up, Cintron and Martinez would be the two we are looking for. But it all depends on how Al, Dan and Mr. Peterson see if after this fight. Then I can talk about Martinez and see how it goes.
Thinking about retiring in 2012?
PAUL WILLIAMS: My business is going pretty good and I’ve got all my ducks in a row. Mr. Peterson said I’ don’t need this anymore. You became a 3-time world champion; you’ve got your money and your business. Do 2 more fights and give it up.
ERIC GOMEZ: We are very excited to be on this call and to be getting this fight against Paul Williams. I still consider Paul one of the top fighters pound-for-pound. He had a little bit of a setback but like all champions, hey; they get it up and show what they are made of. We don’t expect anything different for this fight. It is a great opportunity for Lara and the kind of fight he’s been waiting for and he’s not taking Paul lightly and I think it should be a terrific fight.
ERISLANDY LARA: We just finished up some sparring. We are having a great camp and we are preparing for Paul Williams. We know everything he has done in his career but we are prepared for this fight.
Paul is tall, how do you prepare?
ERISLANDY LARA: I know Paul Williams is very tall for that weight class. We’ve got a kid here who is tall and been giving us great work is sparring. Edwin Rodriguez, who is a super middleweight, has been working with us. So we are ready for this guy mentally and physically.
What Paul Williams do you think you’ll face?
ERISLANDY LARA: We are talking about a guy that is a 3-time world champion. I am not preparing for the Paul Williams that got knocked out in two rounds by Martinez. We are preparing for the Paul Williams that beat the Winky Wrights and guys like that. I have been waiting for this opportunity for a very long time and this is my chance to shine.
Where does it take him if he defeats Paul Williams?
ERIC GOMEZ: This is the kind of fight he has been waiting for his entire life. He was one of the top amateur fighters for many years. As a pro he has passed every test. This is the big show for him. This is his world title fight even though there is no title involved he is fighting one of the top fighters of our time. If he beats Paul Williams, we will be considered in all the big fights. – the Cotto’s, the Alvarez’ – all the jr. middleweights. This is going to open all the doors. It’s going to be on HBO and whenever you get on HBO you have to shine. There is no tomorrow. He has to get past this fight.
Is there a possibility the winner get Canelo Alvarez?
ERIC GOMEZ: There is a possibility. We would look at every offer but we have to see what happens in this fight. It’s a good fight and both are tough fighters. Williams is one of the best and we’ll see what happens.
DAN GOOSSEN: I heard you mention Cotto – has that one been thought out?
ERIC GOMEZ: Obviously all the big names will be considered. You have a network like HBO that will make things happen and if the money’s there it can happen. If Williams gets by Lara, the media and the fans will be pressing for big fights for him – with any of the champions.
You had a tough fight you last time out and were criticized, what makes you think you are ready for this?
ERISLANDY LARA: I took the last fight lightly and had a bad night. Anybody can have a bad night. This time it’s going to be a different story. I am preparing for Paul Williams. I am not cutting any corners and of course, if I get past him I am ready for any of the champions.
What made the last fight so difficult?
ERISLANDY LARA: I was not prepared mentally or physically that night. I realized that if I am not prepared 100% I am better off nit fighting. It was more difficult than I had planned for and Molina is a very good fighter. I thought I won the fight clearly, 6-4. Going into this fight I knew it was a good wake-up call. I just got back in the gym and keep pressing.
How much of a risk is it to take a jump up in competition?
ERIC GOMEZ: It’s always a risk when you are fighting a guy like Paul Williams. Before his last fight he was one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world. A great champion and one of the best of our era. We feel it is time for Erislandy. He fought against Brewer and he dominated him – he won like every round. He fought Perez in a tough fight and won every round. The Carlos Molina fight was a draw and a close fight. Those guys took him through the fire and he came out unscathed and I think he’s ready for a fight like this. He is not taking him lightly. If you are going to be something in this sport you’ve got to get through these tough fights.
What did he find difficult with Molina and how would it help against Williams?
LUIS DECOUBAS JR: He had knocked out the prior 4 guys and sometimes you think boxing gets easy and you tend to underestimate other opponents and that’s how he overlooked Molina. Molina is a good fighter and has beaten a lot of good guys.
ERIC GOMEZ: I think we should be thanking Molina. If it weren’t for Molina, we wouldn’t be getting this fight. We should send him a fruit basket or something.
Do you think he’s getting credit for fighting these tough guys?
LUIS DECOUBAS JR.: We fought Danny Perez and in his next fight gave the guy McEwen all he could handle in a draw. He knocked out Raines in one round and we feel that Williams is the right style for our guy.
ERIC GOMEZ: We feel that he is ready. He’s beaten some of these guys. Grady brewer was a tough guy. Nobody gave Brewer a chance against Fernando Guererro but we found out he could still fight. Danny Perez is a tough fighter. These are guys that will test your fighter and you’ll know what you have. Lara passed with flying colors and he beat them pretty much every round. This is going to be a hell of a fight. It is a big step up but you’ve got to jump on these opportunities. We feel he has a great shot at beating Paul Williams. When we beat Paul Williams we’ll be a very good place.