Paul Williams vs Verno Phillips
In a bout televised over cable television in the United States, WBO welterweight champion Paul Williams, 36-1, 27 kayos, Augusta, Georgia, moved up in class and won the WBO interim Light Middleweight title with an eighth round stoppage of IBF champion Verno Phillips of Denver, Colorado, now 42-11-1, 21 kayos, who vacated his title to take this bout. Phillips perhaps won the first two rounds with a mix of body shots and jabs, helped by an accidental headbutt which caused a hideous cut over Williams right eye. From round three on, Williams won every round behind his jab combinations and dominated this bout, bloody cut or not. Phillips, with 20 years professional experience in the ring, was in excellent physical condition as was Williams, and remained competitive as a counterpuncher. The bout perhaps could have gone to the scorecards in the later rounds due to the cut from the headbutt. In round 8, though, Williams took too many power shots to the head, and by this point had taken too many punches overall, and the referee waived a halt to the bout with Phillips on his stool. Phillips perhaps was still game, but there was nothing left to prove. It should be noted that Phillips, 39, previously held the WBO Light Middleweight title from 1993-1995 and would have been the oldest ex-WBO champion to regain it. For Williams, the important number emerging from this bout was '36'. His cut required 36 stitches to close. Upon the cut healing, he was scheduled to face the regular WBO Light Middleweight champion, 36-0 Sergei Dzindiruk, sometime in 2009. The question was, since Dzindiruk had only recently made a mandatory defense of the WBO Light Middleweight title before this bout, why then was an interim WBO vacant title bout between Williams and Phillips sanctioned? Nobody seemed able to answer the question, but Williams nonetheless put on an impressive performance.
Paul Williams 35-1 (26 KOs) vs. Verno Phillips 42-10-1 (21 KOs)