Originally created 05/06/04

Williams fighting hard to move up



At 6-foot-2, Aiken's Paul Williams isn't your typical welterweight boxer.

But he can make weight in the 147-pound class, and he plans to use his height and range to his advantage Friday when he fights Luis Hernandez at 10 p.m. on ESPN2.

After all, he has four inches on Hernandez, who is only 5-10.

The fight will be at Foxwoods Casino in Mashantucket, Conn.

"What we try to do is take advantage of every situation," said George Peterson, Williams' trainer/manager. "Every time we go into a fight we want to have the edge. The more of the edge we have, the better it is for us."

This will be Williams' second nationally televised fight. The 22-year-old knocked out Rodolfo Gomez in the fourth round in a February fight on ESPN2.

Like Williams, Hernandez is undefeated, but Williams and Peterson don't know much else about him. Hernandez is 26 and has fought all of his 17 fights in his native Ecuador.

Williams is 22-0, and Peterson hopes a win against an undefeated opponent will push his fighter into the top 10 in his weight class as rated by the United States Boxing Association. Williams, who fought Gomez as a junior middleweight (154 pounds), is ranked No. 13 in that weight class. Peterson said Williams has also fought as a middleweight (160).

Williams doesn't really care who his opponent is; he's ready to fight.

"I just can't wait to roll with it," he said.

Peterson is more concerned. He doesn't like not knowing what style of fighter Hernandez is, but thinks he has prepared Williams for everything.

"What we've got to do for the most part is get out there and execute," Peterson said. "We've got the plan. Whatever style he shows us, we've got the plan. We can make that adjustment."

Williams said it will probably take him about three rounds to figure out Hernandez's style and get into a rhythm.

"After that, I'm in the zone," Williams said.

Peterson said one knock against Williams is that he hasn't gone 10 rounds yet. But that's because Williams hasn't needed 10 rounds to take out his opponents.

"I train for 10 rounds in the gym," Williams said. "It just so happens that I get out there and when I start working my plan, executing my punches and stuff, they can't take it and they just go out."

Peterson said that Gomez, Williams' last victim, told a reporter before the fight that he would take Williams to the fourth round and then turn up the intensity. Gomez thought Williams would be exhausted by then, but instead Williams knocked him out in the fourth.

"And that's what we've been experiencing," Peterson said.

Peterson would like to know how Williams would fare in a 10-round fight, but what he really wants is a win. Peterson thinks his fighter is about three fights away from a championship bout. He's been offered a championship challenge before but turned it down because Williams lacked experience against quality fighters.

Given the right competition over the next six or seven months, Peterson thinks Williams will be ready for a championship bid around the end of the year. But first Williams has to get past Hernandez.

"We can't miss this opportunity," Peterson said.

TEAM TENNIS: The following local teams will compete in the USA League Tennis Senior State Championships in Rome this weekend: Longo's from Petersburg Racquet Club and Pelfry's from Odell Weeks in the women's 4.0 flight; Harley's out of West Lake in the women's 4.5 flight; Riverside Tigers from Riverside and Don Wells' team out of Newman Tennis Center in the men's 3.5 flight; David Bell's team from The Club at Rae's Creek and Bobby Smith's team out of Fermata in the men's 4.0 flight; and Thornton's team out of Petersburg Racquet Club in the men's 4.5 flight.

DRAG RACING: The Carolina Dragway in Jackson is holding the Funny Car Fox Hunt on Saturday. Gates open at 2 p.m., time trials begin at 2:30 p.m. and the race starts at 7.

JUNIOR GOLF: The First Tee Open at Pebble Beach, an official Champions Tour event, will offer spots to 78 junior golfers ages 13-18. The event is Sept. 3-5 and there is a qualifying tournament for juniors July 20 at Trophy Club of Atlanta. Applications are available at www.thefirsttee.org and are due by Wednesday.

Reach Kristy Shonka at (706) 823-3219 or kristy.shonka@augustachronicle.com.



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