A Common Opponent: Each fought Sergio Martinez and while both suffered fits - and a trip to the canvas - both escaped without a loss.
As usual, Williams got the win with his high-volume attack. Averaging 81.6 punches per round - 32 percent higher than the middleweight average of 56.7 - Williams out-landed Martinez 300-254 overall, 94-71 in jabs and 206-183 in power punches. The downside was that Martinez exploited Williams' porous defense as he landed 39.8 percent of his 638 total punches and, more importantly, 41 percent of his 446 power shots. Perhaps Williams was emboldened by Martinez's lack of one-punch pop, but he must be on point defensively against Cintron, who has 28 knockouts among his 32 victories.
Many observers believe Cintron was lucky to draw with Martinez, for one could make a strong case that "Maravilla" should have gotten either a seventh round TKO or a unanimous decision. Martinez relied on slickness and a slow-down game plan as he out-landed Cintron by nearly 50 punches, while limiting the Puerto Rican to 19.3 percent overall accuracy and 28 percent of his power shots.
Given these numbers, Williams would appear to have a significant edge, but as all boxing fans know, styles play a huge role in how fights unfold.
Pro-active versus Reactive: Williams fights the same way every fight, using his unusual length and strength to impose that style. The one time he wasn't able to do so was also his only loss, against Carlos Quintana.
Williams got the majority decision against Martinez because his hyperactive work rate resonated with two of the judges and because Martinez wouldn't - or couldn't - deviate from his normal approach.
Such was also the case against Winky Wright as Williams averaged 90.5 punches per round while landing 247 of 1,086 overall, 70 of 419 jabs and 177 of 667 power shots to Wright's 42.6 punches per round and respective 116 of 511, 40 of 240 and 76 of 271. Each landed 22.7 percent of their overall punches but Wright could not ratchet up his work rate or his marksmanship enough to make a dent.
Against Verno Phillips, Williams did a better job of not only throwing more but also landing at a higher rate. Williams threw 85.2 punches per round to Phillips' 49.5, creating connect bulges of 227-91 (overall), 17-3 (jabs) and 210-88 (power), but Williams connected on 33.3 percent (overall) and 42.9 (power) to Phillips' 23 percent (overall) and 24 percent (power). If Williams wants to dominate, he must follow this formula.
Conversely, Cintron fights according to his opponents' output. When the strategy works, as it did against Alfredo Angulo, it's called versatility. When it doesn't, like against Martinez and the Antonio Margarito rematch, it's called allowing an opponent to dictate.
Cintron's best recent outing was against Angulo, the rare volume puncher who also has significant power. Cintron combined smart boxing with prodigious output in winning a 116-112 nod from all three judges after averaging 91.2 punches per round to Angulo's 79.8, each landing at a 28.9 percent rate. That allowed Cintron to build advantages of 316-277 (overall connects) and 149-122 (jab connects) but the most important stat was his 167-155 power connects edge despite throwing just two more power shots (416-414).
Angulo's subsequent performances indicate that illness may have had a bearing on his performance, and if that's the case then Cintron's outing against a healthier volume puncher indicate he's in for a hard - and perhaps punishing - night.
In the Margarito rematch, "The Tijuana Tornado" poured in 101.8 punches per round and Cintron had little choice but to try and keep up. His 75.2 punch rate didn't work: Margarito pounded him 257-136 (total connects) and landed nearly as many power punches (207) as Cintron threw (209, landing 89). Margarito was unusually accurate as he landed 42.1 percent of his overall shots and 46 percent of his power punches to Cintron's 30 percent (overall) and 43 percent (power). The result: A sixth round KO defeat.
Prediction: Given their recent histories Cintron must hurt Williams early to gain the momentum he needs physically and psychologically. Otherwise, the tougher-minded Williams will methodically break Cintron down to a TKO in the middle to late rounds.