Paul Williams vs. Sergio Martinez and Chris Arreola vs. Brian Minto: Predictions

Two American boxers facing different but potentially tricky sets of circumstances take center stage on Saturday night, as HBO returns to Atlantic City for its final World Championship Boxing broadcast of 2009.

For Paul "The Punisher" Williams, probably the best boxer casual sports fans don't know, the challenge will be getting himself up to face a much different opponent than the one he originally expected to fight. Twice he thought he had a date nailed down with middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik only to have the bout torpedoed by The Ghost's troublesome staph infection.

Pavlik's power and toughness would have been a challenge, but Williams will get an entirely different kind of test from Sergio Martinez. The southpaw Spaniard loves to stick and move, as fans found out in February during a questionable majority draw with Kermit Cintron.

Martinez started slowly in that fight but won't have the same luxury against Williams, who throws punches constantly when he has his 'A' game going. Those shots also give foes fits because his height and long arms allow them to come from unusual angles, which should still be the case on Saturday even though Martinez isn't short himself (he's listed at 5-foot-11).

Williams' lone career loss, suffered at the hands of Carlos Quintana back in February 2008, was more the result of a lackluster performance on his part than anything Quintana did particularly well. Paul proved that by getting quick revenge with a first-round KO when they met four months later.

If Williams is moping around about losing the much bigger Pavlik fight, Martinez is skillful enough to box his way to a victory and fit enough to keep it up for 12 rounds. Otherwise, Williams should be able to build himself an early lead, and Martinez doesn't seem to have the type of power that would enable him to come from behind in the late stages.

Here's hoping that Williams has his head in the right place, because the stardom that has so far eluded him will slip even further away if he stumbles here. My guess is that he won't, and even though Martinez will make him earn it, The Punisher will emerge with a unanimous decision.

In the televised co-feature, heavyweight Chris "Nightmare" Arreola will attempt to rebound from his own personal bad dream. That happened in September, when Vitali Klitschko took him apart over 10 rounds, literally moving Arreola to tears.

Arreola showed he had only a puncher's chance against the elder Klitschko, but that may be all his opponent this weekend, Brian Minto, has against him. All you need to know about him is that he was fighting at a Day's Inn in Western Pennsylvania back in April.

He is the current NABO heavyweight titleholder, for what that's worth. But as long as Arreola has put his first professional defeat behind him and is in decent shape - never a sure thing, as we've seen in the past - Minto should be relatively light work.

Expect that to be the case, with Arreola winning by KO in four rounds or less.

Posted by The Franchise

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