By Jose M. Romero/@RomeroJoseM
For Fox Deportes
Paul “The Punisher” Williams was all set to fight Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in September in Las Vegas, perhaps the biggest opportunity of Williams’ career and perhaps the biggest challenge the WBC super welterweight champion, Alvarez, was to face.
That fight is off after Williams was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident over Memorial Day Weekend in Georgia, one that left the 30-year-old contender paralyzed from the waist down.
First and foremost, well wishes for a strong recovery must go out to Williams. He had some big wins and made himself into a major player in the sport. His style would have been a tough adjustment for Canelo.
Health is always more important than the sport.
Now, with Williams no longer able to fight, promoters must look for another opponent for Alvarez. The Mexican Independence Day weekend is traditionally a big one in Vegas in terms of major boxing events, and Alvarez is a huge draw, both live and on pay-per-view.
James Kirkland is a contender who was in the conversation to fight Alvarez, and has said publicly he wants a shot at the Mexican star. But his return from shoulder surgery delayed his availability to fight Alvarez.
There is Erislandy Lara, a native of Cuba who is 16-1-1 but who lost to Williams in Atlantic City last year.
Or fellow Mexican Carlos Molina, who lost a controversial decision to Kirkland in March. Molina was knocked down in the 10th round but not out, and when his corner entered the ring before the round ended, the fighter was disqualified.
There are also lots of possibilities at the middleweight and welterweight levels, guys who’d have to move up or down to face Canelo. The matchups are intriguing to say the least, most top contenders have their own fights later in the year and wouldn’t be recovered in time for September.
So it’s a wait-and-see game. It’s safe to say that Golden Boy Promotions seeks an opponent that will test Alvarez but shouldn’t end his unbeaten run. Matching Canelo against the likes of a seasoned veteran who has won multiple titles and is known for tough fights might not be the best thing for Alvarez right now.
But pitting Mexican vs. Mexican on a Mexican holiday would be quite a spectacle and a moneymaker.
Speaking of veteran fighters, the death of Johnny Tapia this past weekend was a big blow to the sport. Tapia was the very definition of a warrior, a guy who lived a hard life but got himself up off the canvas time and time again.
A world champion in three different weight classes, I won’t remember Tapia for his battles with drugs and alcohol and jail time and standoffs with law enforcement officials. I’ll remember him for that crosstown rivalry with Danny Romero in the late 90s, the one that put New Mexico on the boxing map.
I’ll remember my friends from New Mexico who loved and defended Tapia with a passion. He was their guy, despite all of his transgressions.
And I’ll remember him for his “Mi Vida Loca” tattoo. He lived that kind of life, a tragic one, but everything I ever heard about how he interacted with others was positive. An approachable guy who cared about others no matter what was going on in his life.