April 15, 2007 - 9:00 pm
Paul Williams often walks around wearing a Pittsburgh Pirates cap, but the unbeaten welterweight contender hardly wants to associate himself with the franchise that has the longest active streak of losing seasons.
Williams — who says he wears the Pirates cap because of the “P” logo emblazoned on the front — has known nothing but success as a professional.
He plans to keep the perfect record intact, even though he’ll fight highly regarded Antonio Margarito for the WBO welterweight belt in his next outing.
“If you have the attitude that you won’t accept losing and you’re going to refuse to lose, it makes a difference,” said Williams, 32-0 with 24 knockouts, including nine in the first round.
Top Rank, which promotes Margarito, has marketed the Mexican as the “most feared fighter in boxing,” largely because Floyd Mayweather Jr. turned down $8 million to fight him.
But when it looked as if Margarito would bypass Williams, his mandatory challenger, to accept a bout with Miguel Cotto, Williams began to wonder just who really was the most feared.
Margarito didn’t want to surrender his belt, though, and he agreed to fight Williams, putting the lucrative Cotto bout on hold.
Promoter Dan Goossen, who won the right to stage the Margarito-Williams bout at a purse bid, said the match will be in July in Las Vegas or California. The likely date is July 28.
Williams, who said he thinks he is stronger and a harder puncher than Margarito, praised the champion for agreeing to accept his challenge.
“The easy thing would have been to take the money and fight the other guy,” Williams said. “But he stepped up like a man.”
Although Margarito has beaten a higher level of opposition, Williams said he is undaunted and believes a new era is about to unfold.
“I’m going to be in there and I’ll bang with him,” said the 6-foot-1-inch Williams, who is built like a young Thomas Hearns. “I don’t think he’s going to be used to that. I’m a harder puncher than he’s seen.”
• ’24/7′ — The hype for the May 5 super welterweight title blockbuster between Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr. will hit a new level today when HBO’s documentary series “De La Hoya-Mayweather 24/7” debuts at 7:30 p.m.
Camera crews have been following Mayweather and De La Hoya as they prepare for their bout at the MGM Grand that may set boxing records for money generated.
HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg said the series will not only help boost the bout’s pay-per-view sales, which have a chance to break the record of 2 million, but will kick-start boxing in general.
“This series is everything we hoped it would be,” Greenburg said. “Both fighters have given us unprecedented access as they prepare for the most anticipated fight in years. Our intention in doing this documentary series was not to drive the pay-per-view numbers but rather to reintroduce the American public at-large and the average sports fan in particular to the drama and intensity of the sport of boxing.
“Yes, this four-part series will drive interest in the fight, but it may also remind people how compelling this sport and its combatants can be.”
Golden Boy Promotions chief executive officer Richard Schaefer said he has been eagerly awaiting the debut broadcast. Neither fighter had editorial input, and Schaefer said he’ll be seeing it for the first time when it airs.
• MOSLEY’S TAKE — WBC welterweight champion Shane Mosley is in Puerto Rico helping to prepare De La Hoya.
He sloughed off derisive comments by Mayweather ridiculing him as simply a sparring partner.
“I really don’t care what Mayweather said,” Mosley said. “You know, I’ve always worked with Oscar, even when he went to the Olympics. I sparred with him a lot of times. I mean, I spar a lot of world champions to get them ready for their fights. So those comments really don’t bother me.”
• LEARNING FROM UFC — Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, 76, had promoted dozens of world championship bouts by the time Dana White, the president of the mixed martial arts powerhouse UFC, was born.
But Arum said he’s not too old to learn and is willing to learn from anyone. Top Rank produced its own pay-per-view telecast Saturday featuring Manny Pacquiao and Jorge Solis in the main event at San Antonio and took the opportunity to tweak the broadcast.
Arum conceded that the Ultimate Fighting Championship does a much better job of creating an exciting in-arena environment than boxing, which traditionally has been limited in what it can do because of the demands of TV broadcasters.
“Mixed martial arts can’t compare to boxing as a sport, but they’re killing us because of the events they put on,” Arum said. “The Fertittas (who own the UFC) are smart people, and they’ve done a terrific job in creating an environment people like and want to be in when they go to the fights.
“That’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to do a lot more of our own (television) from now on, so we’ll be able to control the environment in the arena. You have so many restrictions when HBO, Showtime or ESPN is doing a show. We won’t have that when we’re doing our own.”
• TIDBITS — Organizers are nearing a deal for IBF heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko to defend his belt against the last man to beat him, Lamon Brewster, in early summer in Germany. … Former heavyweight champion Hasim Rahman, a Las Vegas resident, will fight journeyman Taurus Sykes on June 14 in Rochester, N.Y. … Heavyweights Eddie Chambers and Dominick Guinn will meet in the main event of a Showtime card May 4 at the Palms.