Kermit Cintron withdrew himself from consideration for the WBO welterweight title. Paul Williams and his people believe the IBF champ couldn't even win a Golden Globe based on his latest performance.
"He claimed a hand injury, but he didn't sell that very well," said George Peterson, the trainer for Williams, Aiken's world champion. "We don't believe that."
Cintron retreated from a signed agreement for a welterweight unification fight with Williams in February, claiming a hand injury after his 10-round win over lightly regarded Jesse Feliciano in November. It wasn't until after the fight was stopped and Cintron's arm raised in victory that the Puerto Rican native started writhing around the ring in alleged pain generated in the first round.
"He was looking bad in the fight and then when it's over he got on the mat and just rolled and rolled and rolled," Peterson said of what he described as a "felony fraud" dodge.
"Everyone could see right through that."
Cintron managed to pull himself to his feet long enough to forget his signed agreement and call out a different fighter than Williams -- Antonio Margarito, whom Williams decisively wrested the WBO title from last summer. After two doctors failed to find anything wrong with Cintron's hand, his personal physician was able to detect ligament damage that would conveniently sideline the boxer until March 1.
Williams called it the "hand flu."
Peterson called him "Kermit the Frog" with a "suspect heart."
Williams' promoter, Dan Goossen, offered to push the fight back to the end of March, but Cintron remained in full retreat.
"The Punisher" will have to settle for a title defense on HBO against another Puerto Rican fighter, Carlos Quintana, on Feb. 9 in Temecula, Calif. The 31-year-old Quintana (24-1) is a dangerous southpaw whose only loss came in a WBA title fight against Miguel Cotto.
"I was the only one willing to step up and fight Williams because know I can beat him," Quintana said in a promotional release.
The Williams camp gives Quintana full credit for standing up. By beating Margarito last July, Williams has inherited the mantle of most-feared fighter in the welterweight division. He has developed what his promoters call his "Punishment List," and none of the named fighters on it want to risk meeting him in the ring.
Cotto keeps refusing offers. Floyd Mayweather Jr. keeps hiding behind the cover of "retirement." Zab Judah took a pass. Shane Mosely has kept his distance.
"Nobody out there wants to fight Paul," Peterson said.
It has become a great frustration to Williams, who rose through the ranks to a world title only to scare off all of the big-money fighters with his size and relentless style.
"We thought we'd at least get some paydays," Peterson said. "We did all we had to do to get to this level."
In addition to the paydays, Williams seeks titles. He desperately wants to unify all of the welterweight belts. The other belt holders would prefer to wait him out and chase him to a higher weight class.
"They're hoping Paul can't make weight after awhile," said Peterson.
Williams tries to maintain his focus as he trains in Puerto Rico, as he did while preparing for the Margarito fight.
"It's a little bit disappointing that I couldn't get another champion to fight me," he said. "I can't let myself get frustrated by that. I know that later on they're going to have to fight me."
That hope is based on the networks that televise boxing making the matches the public wants to see. And Williams is the most intriguing newcomer in the welterweight ranks.
"I'm thinking if our cards are played right, by the end of the year they'll be eliminated," Peterson said of the obstacles in Williams' way. "The networks will say, 'We're not going to put you on if you don't fight this guy.' Look for it to happen this time next year."
Until then, Williams can't look past the fighters willing to step in with him. Quintana is a significant threat to his 33-0 record.
"I look at all my fighters the same," Williams said. "I'm going to prepare like I'm fighting a champion. It's strictly business. That's the only thing that exists for me."
And how will the first challenger on his Punishment List" fare?
"One prediction is I'm going to win," Williams said. "And the one condition is he is definitely going to get punished."
That was clearly a condition Cintron wasn't willing to face up to.
Reach Scott Michaux at (706) 823-3219 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
AT A GLANCE
WHAT: WBO welterweight title defense
WHO: Paul "The Punisher" Williams
(33-0, 24 KOs) vs. Carlos "El Indio" Quintana (24-1, 19 KOs)
WHEN: Feb. 9
WHERE: Pechanga Resort & Casino, Temecula, Calif.