Williams' opponent claims infection, postpones title bout

The title fight between Aiken boxer Paul “The Punisher” Williams and undefeated middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik has been postponed and possibly canceled.


Pavlik’s promoters at Top Rank Boxing claim that a lingering staph infection in the WBC/WBO champion’s right hand has forced a postponement of the highly anticipated Oct. 3 fight in Atlantic City, N.J. Two dates that Top Rank mentioned as alternatives, Nov. 21 and Dec. 5, are not available with the TV networks, and the fight may be cancelled if a suitable date can’t be found.

The news that came out in a press release Monday night before a schedule Tuesday promotional press conference caught Williams’ promoter Dan Goossen by surprise.

“If a release was sent stating that Pavlik was fighting November 21, I would be very interested in finding out who he’s fighting,” Goossen said in a release. “As we’re all aware, we’ve just learned of Pavlik’s decision to cancel the press conference and thus the fight, and we will evaluate where we go from here.”

The news is frustrating to the Williams camp, as the three-time world champion has struggled to find top-caliber opponents willing to fight him in any weight class from welterweight (147 pounds) to middleweight (160).

“They say there’s something wrong with his hand,” said George Peterson, Williams’ trainer of Pavlik.

Pavlik postponed and then canceled a summer bout with Sergio Mora citing the same injury, and many speculated that he used it as an excuse to get out of a matchup and payday he wasn’t happy with.

The Williams-Pavlik fight was expected by many to be the fight of the year between two young champions in the prime of their careers. Williams is eager to get in the ring with a fighter of Pavlik’s caliber.

“From this fight he was going to get his proper due, what we’ve been so long awaiting,” Peterson said. “It’s put on the back burner and again we’ll have to ride tall in the saddle until we get another situation. Our training camp has been the best that we’ve had in 11 years. But it doesn’t do any good if we don’t have an opponent.”

HBO has set aside Oct. 3 for Williams, and his promotion team will research trying to find another opponent for that spot in the schedule. A decision is expected to be made before the end of the week, but the speculation is that Pavlik and Arum are having second thoughts about the matchup and are trying to get out of the fight.

Top Rank understands the risks involved with fighting Williams. It took a court resolution for Williams to get his mandatory WBO welterweight title shot against Arum’s Antonio Margarito in 2006, which Williams won in a unanimous decision.



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