The words every challenger yearns to hear after a tough fight were uttered on Saturday night after the Williams - Quintana fight. Carlos "El Indio" Quintana really impressed me in his victory over the much-touted (but maybe a bit overrated) Paul "The Punisher" Williams. Quintana completely ignored his four-inch height, 10-inch reach, and five-year age disadvantage and gave the performance of his career. The secret: never stop moving! I heard his corner yell at him in the second round: "do not stop moving!" I knew at that moment that the blueprint set by Sugar Ray Leonard in his fight against Tommy Hearns was the best one to follow.
Williams has been criticized for not throwing his jab enough (or not throwing enough, period!). He had averaged 101 punches per round in his last three fights, yet only averaged 67 in this fight. This wasn't due to Williams not wanting to throw more punches (or, as his corner was telling him, give them numbers), but because it's hard to throw punches, even lazy jabs, when your opponent is never stationary. So long as Quintana kept moving, Williams remained off balance and couldn't throw as much as he'd liked. Quintana was just never there, as attested by Williams throwing half as many jabs as he did in his last fight against Antonio Margarito and only at a 16% connect rate.
Some Williams' apologists are claiming that the weight loss affected him (he did gain 16 pounds overnight). I find this argument flawed. A fighter who is drained by the act of making weight doesn't have the stamina to chase a fighter around the ring for 12 rounds and throw 799 punches over that period. Paul never slowed down and looked fresh in the later rounds when Quintana looked tired. No, Williams has no problem making the welterweight limit.
That being said, I believe he should consider moving up to 154. The division is not as deep and the prospect of a championship is much better. While I would still give Williams a good chance against more stationary fighters like Clottey, Cintron, and Cotto, I don't think he'll be able to get those fights as easily now. Why would I give him a chance against Cotto when he was able to KO Quintana is five? Because Cotto is not as tall, has a shorter reach, and doesn't move around as much as Quintana. Cotto would have a terrible time trying to get thru the 100 punches a round by Williams to get in on his torso. I've never seen Cotto lunge at an opponent like Quintana was forced to do againt Williams, either. That was a key to Quintana's victory that Cotto will probably not carry into the ring with him. However, Cotto might be able to withstand enough punishment to effectively get to the body enough over the course of the fight and "chop down the tree." That's why I'd favor Williams by the slightest of margins in what I would call a "pick-em" fight.
On the undercard, we saw Andre Berto take on a made-to-order Michel Trabant, who's record of 43-2 was a deceitful one. Don't get me wrong, I believe Berto to be a great prospect who will have plenty of success in his career, but I'd like to see him take on something of a challenge in the near future. He drops his hands too much when he throws and, as soon as he fights a boxer who likes to punch when the other guy is punching, he'll realize that things are not really as easy as they've been so far. His chin is still untested, even if he's gifted with power and speed. Talent and ability can only take you so far in life and that's why boxers have trainers. He needs to learn some fundamentals before he steps it up. Three or four more fights with increasingly better competition should give him enough experience to take on a top 10 fighter. There was talk of him facing Quintana a while back; I bet he's happy he didn't take that fight.