Ambitious Williams vacates welterweight belt

11/14/2008 - Boxing

Paul Williams, who wants to shuttle back and forth between various weight divisions for the biggest fights possible, vacated his welterweight title Friday, promoter Dan Goossen told ESPN.com.

Williams (35-1, 26 KOs) defeated Antonio Margarito to win the WBO version of the 147-pound title in July 2007, lost a clear decision to Carlos Quintana in his first defense and then regained the belt by knocking out Quintana in the first round of their rematch in June.

But unable to lure any big names into the ring -- including offering Margarito $4 million to fight him in a rematch that would have been his biggest payday -- Williams fought as a middleweight on Sept. 25 and knocked out Andy Kolle in the first round. That victory set up a Nov. 29 HBO-televised bout with Verno Phillips for the WBO's vacant interim junior middleweight title.

Williams and his handlers believe he can effectively move between welterweight and the 168-pound super middleweight division.

Williams gave up the welterweight belt, according to Goossen, because "the WBO rules would not allow him to walk into the ring [to fight for a junior middleweight title] with his welterweight title. The other reason is there was nobody at 147 that was willing to fight him for the title, so this all goes back to what I've said all along, that Paul Williams is the really the most feared man in the world."

Goossen said the move was not because Williams has trouble making weight at 147, despite constant speculation that he has a lot of trouble squeezing his 6-foot-1 frame down to the class.

"He can make the weight," Goossen said. "He still wants to fight at welterweight. He'll fight anybody but nobody will fight him. But what this move does is show that Paul will be able to stand on his own in these different weight divisions regardless of what belts are around his waist."

The vacant title could be filled by a match between the WBO's leading contenders, former titlist Miguel Cotto and England's Michael Jennings, although it remains to be seen if either side is interested in the fight.

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.