Paul Williams should be in a better place than this now, right?
"A 6-foot-3 guy who can fight at 147 pounds, a guy who can travel three weight divisions who's never in a bad fight, left-handed, throws 100 punches a round and doesn't take a step backward," HBO's vice president of sports programming and boxing coordinator Kery Davis says, reeling off Williams' attributes without speaking falsely. "There's real potential for superstardom."
So why hasn't it arrived?
Williams, 28, will fight former world welterweight champion Kermit Cintron on Saturday night in a super-welterweight bout at Home Depot Center in Carson. Somewhere around 8,000 people -- maybe less -- will come to watch, and the bout will be televised by regular HBO, not pay-per-view.
If he wins by stoppage, Williams will be 39-1 with 28 knockouts, and his promoter, Dan Goossen, has taken to calling this bout "The Weight is Over," pressing the suggestion that Williams is willing to move back down to welterweight (where he hasn't fought since June 2008) to take on Floyd Mayweather Jr. or Manny Pacquiao if their possible super-fight fails to get made again.
"We just want to make the statement that we're a welterweight, and we're here," Goossen said. "We did that to enlarge the pool of opponents. To me, there's only three great welterweights still standing.
"If Floyd takes this fight, it'd do more at the gate and on pay-per-view than Mayweather-[Shane]Mosley did. Paul's fresher than Mosley, he's established himself, he'd make a real fight. The days of Pacquiao against the recyclables like [Joshua] Clottey, [Miguel] Cotto or [Antonio] Margarito are over too. You make a fight with the recyclables and it hurts the sport. If Pacquiao-Mayweather is not made, the focus has to go to Paul Williams."
That's Goossen's idea, but he's alone in his thoughts.
Mayweather's locked in on Pacquiao, and HBO officials have made it known that "Plan A is Plan B, C, D, E and F too. ... It's too important for the sport," Davis says. When he was pressed about anyone else to consider last week, Mayweather discussed only newly crowned middleweight champ Sergio Martinez.
Why even mention Williams? He's fresh off a December majority decision over Martinez, and since his name recognition is a work in progress, one boxing authority who knows the business well but requested anonymity said, "Paul's probably the last in line in Floyd's mind. Paul's just too good."
Pacquiao's Plan B at times seems like it's his fight of choice: a fall date against Mexico's popular anti-hero Margarito at Cowboys Stadium in Texas. Williams has already beaten Margarito too, by decision in 2007.
The purer reality is perhaps a rematch with Martinez, or a shot at the winner of next month's Yuri Foreman-Cotto super-welterweight title fight.
"We're kind of used to this, we don't get bent out of shape," Williams' trainer George Peterson said. "If I was another manager, I wouldn't want my guy to fight this kid. You ever see him fight? You ever see anyone call him out?"
Williams too expresses a saint's patience and says he trusts that Goossen and Wizard of Oz-like manager Al Haymon care for him as best they can.
"I'm just a boxer. The people who got me here, that's who I roll with," Williams said. "That's my loyalty. I'm going to stand my ground. I'm not hurting for nothing. I got some real estate. I don't have to go digging in my pocket for a sandwich.
"I'd love to get a $30-million fight. That's what I was doing at 147 before, but I went seven months without a fight and had bills coming. Good things come to those who wait. The fans will realize, 'This guy puts on good fights,' and my time will come."
For now, the challenge is Cintron (32-2-1, 28 KOs), whose lone losses are to Margarito and who last year fought Martinez to a disputed draw and beat the tough Alfredo Angulo.
"This is a great opportunity for me," Cintron, 30, said. "Supposedly, he's one of the best pound-for-pound fighters; this is a great opportunity to showcase my skills. I think what people say about him is a bit overblown. I'm pretty much just going to bring it to him."
The Saturday mission, Goossen says, is "setting the stage for where we want to be, so we can let Paul do whatever he wants. We know the fight everyone wants to see is Mayweather-Pacquiao, but the next name is Paul Williams and with a win Saturday, he's the most exciting guy out there."
The plan to drive that point home? "I'm going to try and hurt him," Williams said.