Despite a bad cut opened over his right eye in the second round by an accidental head butt, Williams demonstrated incredible poise, sticking to his team's game plan of working Phillips' body relentlessly with a high volume of powerful left and right hooks. It was the right strategy considering that after suffering a TKO in his fifth fight in 1988, Phillips -- who started his professional career when Williams was seven years old -- has a rock solid chin. But Williams' relentless assault on Phillips body -- which won him every round -- eventually caused the ring physician to waive off the fight after the eighth round. What made Williams' stoppage all the more impressive was that although Phillips had lost 10 times before last night, he had never suffered a lopsided defeat since that early loss in 1988.
The 6'-1 Williams (36-1, 27 KOs) entered the ring with a five-and-a-half-inch height advantage and 13 inches in reach. Yet although Williams could have stayed outside and peppered Phillips all night with his long arms -- as his trainer George Peterson frequently urged him to do between rounds -- he seemed to relish Phillips' game of working inside, not caring that he gave up his height and reach in the process. Williams' victory last night was his third straight in a different weight class and makes him that historical rarity among fighters, a top challenger in at least three divisions simultaneously.
What lies next for the emerging superstar? His team has said they would continue being gypsies, moving between 147 and 168 pounds to find good fights -- or more accurately -- good fighters willing to face this freakish wrecking ball.
In the co-feature, rising Mexican-American heavyweight Chris Arreola, despite weighing it at four pounds shy of his highest weight ever -- 254 pounds -- showed his resiliency and heart against a game Travis Walker (28-2). Walker, showing good hand speed and hard combos, knocked Arreola down in the first round with a powerful right hand. But Arreola bounced back in the second round to put Walker down twice, and then the referee halted the fight just 13 seconds into the third round to put the unbeaten Californian (26-0, 23 KOs) close to a world title fight.