Former two-time welterweight titlist Paul Williams is reportedly paralyzed from the waist down, following a motorcycle accident on Sunday morning (May 27) in Atlanta.
The boxer’s trainer/father George Peterson tells ESPN.com that doctors say Williams will never walk again and that his boxing career is over.
“They’re saying he won’t walk again or box again,” said Peterson. “Paul is in denial right now. It’s been that way with him. You tell him he can’t or won’t do something, and he wants to prove you different. So whatever the doctors say, he’s not listening. But they say that (walking and boxing) is not going to happen.”
Sad news for a boxer with a lot of fight left in him.
Williams had reportedly signed on for a major fight last week, where he’d challenge junior middleweight titlist Saul “Canelo” Alvarez on September 17 in the main event of a PPV card at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Obviously, the bout has been canceled.
The accident occurred at around 8am on Sunday. Williams had ridden his motorcycle from his home to Atlanta to attend the wedding of one of his brothers.
ESPN reports that Williams, who was wearing a helmet, rode out of his lane to avoid a car that was moving into his lane, but another car was coming toward him in the other direction. He swerved to avoid the oncoming car, rode up a steep embankment and lost control of the motorcycle before flying several feet in the air and landing on his back on the road.
The 30-year-old boxer is scheduled to have surgery Wednesday (May 30) to stabilize the portion of his spinal cord that is intact and allows him to move his hands, arms, torso and head. If all goes well, he’ll be moved to a rehabilitation center in a few weeks.
“The other part of his spinal cord is damaged and has eliminated his lower body movement,” Peterson said.
Peterson said he saw Williams at the hospital on Sunday several hours after the accident and that he was not in pain and was telling jokes.
“He’s telling jokes and saying if he doesn’t box again, he’ll do stand-up comedy. He’s in good spirits but he is also in denial,” Peterson said. “But he’s coherent. I had an excellent conversation with him. When I walked in the door (on Sunday) about 5:30 in the afternoon, he said he’d be ready to go back to camp on Monday. I guess I’m in denial, too, because I have seen him overcome so much adversity before and come back. We’ll pray about the situation.”
Williams (41-2, 27 KOs) was considered one of the top fighters in the world for several years. Besides winning a piece of the welterweight title twice, he also is a former interim junior middleweight titlist.