This was originally supposed to be a full write-up, but I was too tired yesterday to do it and do it properly. However, this match is too good to not put something up about it, so here's a quick analysis (of sorts…) of the fight tonight.
Tonight is a great night of fights. Not only do you get a rebroadcast of Manny Pacquiao's thumping of Antonio Margarito (which did not come easy) from last weekend and UFC 123's showdowns of Quinton "Rampage" Jackson-Lyoto Machida and B.J. Penn-Matt Hughes but you also get the rematch between Paul Williams and Sergio Martinez, back at the same Atlantic City venue where the two unexpectedly put on the "Fight of the Year" in early December 2009. Williams just ecked out a majority victory in the thriller, in which both fighters went down in the first round and kept things tight throughout (just ignore Pierre Benoist's brick-pile dumb 119-110 scorecard in his favor, as the other two only had it a draw and one-round up for Williams).
On that note, let us also ignore HBO's second exceedingly-foolish booking of a boxing match, such was the case with Judah-Matthysee during Showtime's Johnson-Green/Marquez-Lopez doubleheader a few weeks ago. This time, they are broadcasting a great match-up like Williams-Martinez II against one of the most anticipated UFC events of the year. Even though Pacquiao-Margarito will help garner it a few more eyeballs, it really does deserve a lot more attention than what it is bound to get tonight (or afterwards on the sports recap shows). All of that aside, let's focus on the goodness that will likely transpire tonight.
Because these two are so evenly-matched, the match will likely not look too different in form from what was presented almost a year ago, though I do expect the fighting to be a slightly more strategic, as both Williams and Martinez know what to expect from one another. Not that back-and-forth, phone booth-close fighting with each man taking every other round is a bad thing, for sure, but here, the year difference could play a big role in who will get the lion's share of them. Keep in mind that Paul Williams has only fought five rounds since then, after his May bout against Kermit Cintron ended bizarrely with Cintron falling out of the ring and injuring himself as just when things were heating up. Sergio Martinez, on the other hand, is coming off of a dominate, near-masterful performance against then-titleholder Kelly Pavlik. Williams will be the "colder" fighter in tonight's match-up, and has been prone to looking sloppy and starting slowly at times. Martinez seems to have the better upside, having handled Pavlik and having both an unorthodox style and very quick hands. Williams was able to deal with this with his power and own unique mechanics the first time around, but given his dearth of fight time and how close that encounter was, I do question how well of an opposition he can pose, given the circumstances. Even in terms of stamina, former cyclist Martinez has the advantage, and if Pacquiao (or their past fight) could tell you, speed and evasiveness can beat the stronger man.
Prediction: Martinez, UD (if he is in good fighting shape and mindset, and can keep Martinez at bay, Williams, SD). I fully expect knockdowns in this second meeting on both sides, and a flash KO is entirely possible, but I see the match going the distance. As predicted earlier, I see both puglists not deviating from how the first fight went, though I see less brawling and a bit more technical prowess on show. However, Williams' relatively-light time in the ring since last December may come back to haunt him as Martinez will have an easier time imposing his will than the other time, thanks in part to his experience against Pavlik. Nothing's ever certain, but Martinez seems to have everything lined-up to push for a rubber match next year.
Outcome: Martinez, KO2. I said a flash KO was entirely possible, but I'd say that one was a very solid one (and possibly "KO of the Year"). It was one of those perfectly set-up shots, as Martinez ducked a right from Williams and at the same time came with a short, strong left hook that completely decked him and left him wide-eyed and motionless on the canvas (thankfully, he was up and conscious afterwards). The first round saw both fighters trading some nasty shots as Williams instigated the quick pace, pressing Martinez to rev up faster than he probably would have expected. He did pretty well in the middle towards the end, but Williams won the round with his dictation. Things were cranking up again in the second until Williams was KTFO fast. As emphatic as it may have looked, it was still a sudden knockout, and with that and a very close first bout--both entertaining--a third match seems likely and necessary.