This past weekend was a tragic one for boxing. First, former 5x World Champion Johnny Tapia was found dead at the age of 45. Then the news came through that Light Middleweight contender Paul Williams was in a motorcycle accident, where he was violently thrown from the bike and he may be paralyzed for life from the waist down. My thoughts go out to both men’s families.
For Tapia, who has been retired, it appears there is no foul play, though Tapia was known throughout his career for having drug problems, so there will always be speculation. For those who never saw Tapia compete, he was a warrior, and he truly deserves to Rest in Peace.
Williams is in many ways more of an impact to boxing at this time. Williams is still active, and in fact had recently signed to fight Mexican phenom Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez on September 15th of this year. Williams had been on many people’s Top 10 lb for lb lists until he was stopped in 2010 by Sergio Martinez, and he was considered to be a stern test for the up and coming Alvarez.
Williams is scheduled to have an operation this coming Wednesday that will help preserve the healthy portion of his spinal cord, which was severed in the accident.
What will Golden Boy do to replace Williams against the wildly popular Alvarez, who certainly must fight in September to continue his skyrocketing trajectory? Since the match had just been inked last week, the odds had not been out yet, but this was going to be a competitive fight, with Williams likely coming in a slight underdog.
It really is a toss up now for Alvarez, who is coming off a twelve round decision over Shane Mosley. Mosley, is third degree burnt in his career, just grabbing paychecks. Williams, at 30, is still in his prime or not far removed from it, and was considered to be a competitive fight for Alvarez. Let’s hope GB does the right thing and tests their poster child, because Alvarez is in danger of looking like Julio Cesar Chavez Jr if he doesn’t.
As for Williams, he now finds himself in the fight of his life. Reports are not 100 percent that he is paralyzed for life. He faces a long rehabilitation process. If he uses the discipline he showed in raising his boxing career to the top, he may walk again. And wouldn’t it be a great miracle? Good luck, Paul.