Paul took his first significant step up in class of opposition in April, 2005, and won a near shutout 10-round decision against 1996 Olympic bronze medalist Terrance Cauthen. Cauthen’s rush-and-grab strategy, however, made it a very sloppy fight.
Sharmba Mitchell, even at almost 36 years of age, will be Paul’s most significant step up yet, the biggest “name” and most accomplished opponent, by far, that he has fought. A win in this fight would establish Paul as a legitimate contender.
Paul had very little amateur experience and was designed slowly against limited opposition earlier mentioned his first four years as a pro. His ring education has also included working in gyms and training camps with a number of world champions and contenders.
Manager-trainer George Peterson said, “I have my own gym by the name of Final Round, right in Aiken, South Carolina, [note: population 25,337] right outside of Augusta, Georgia. It truly is very hard to get sparring there, so I wanted Paul to get different appears.
“We’re up in the Poconos. We’ve been up here now about three weeks. [note: interview on July 26] We’ve been up here before. Paul’s working with Sechew Powell. Another one of our fighters he’s working with is Terry Cade, I just turned him pro a few months ago.
“Matter of fact, we spent our first three weeks in D.C., then we came here for three weeks, and then we’re going to go back and train in D.C. for another week. We weren’t too particular about training in D.C. because Sharmba is from that area, and a lot of times we’d cross each others’ paths. We didn’t want to be there this time.
“I’m from D.C. I worked on three police departments there for over 20 years. I did some amateur coaching. The police department would detail a police officer to the Police Boys Club. After I was detailed to the Police Boys Club for about three and a half years, I worked the boxing room there. And working the boxing room there, several guys, after their little amateur careers, wanted to turn pro and they didn’t want nobody else to work with them but me. That’s basically how I got into boxing. I boxed as an amateur myself.
“You get your best training and quality sparring in D.C. We always wind up going there. Paul’s been in the ring with 10 world champions. He worked with Joppy, Travis Simms, he worked with O’Neil Bell, he worked with Robert Allen, he worked with Collazo, he worked with Lou Del Valle, Glen Johnson. He worked with, shooks, how many do you have there? I’m going to name them all, it’s been 10 of them. He even worked with Tony Thompson, that’s a heavyweight, and Teddy Reid.
“But he never sparred with Sharmba Mitchell. We knew that he was going to be one of our adversaries. We knew that we would eventually have to fight him, we knew that from the jump.
“Paul isn’t going to have any trouble with nobody that step on that scale at 147. We want to put emphasis to the highest degree on that point. We have absolutely no reservations about that. In addition to that, Sharmba is not big enough for this young man. He’s coming in there five-seven, five-eight, Paul’s standing six-two. He can stand across the street and hit you. Paul comes in, he apply a lot of pressure. The last fight, we knew that you couldn’t let this guy rest, you had to break him down. You had to make him spend what calories he had, and then get him on out of there. That was the game plan.
“Sharmba’s a runner, he’s going to run a lot. But he can only run for so long and after while, he’s got to decide that he’s got to put some points on the scorecard. He’s got to come in and when he come in, he’s coming into danger. It’s hot up in there. It’s real hot, you know what I’m saying? That’s going to be the key to that.”
Paul said, “I done been in the ring with so many champions, what Mr. Peterson was trying to do with me, he took me around to different training camps and stuff. He started that from day one, when I first started boxing. He was like, ‘I’m going to take you every gym I can possibly take you to, and let you spar with every champion there is that you can spar with, to get a different look. You going to require this when you get in the ring with different guys.’ We done been in the ring with nine or 10 champions, and I handled my own with every last one of them. And they gave me props while I was doing it. They was like, ‘You hit us with nice shots, and we hit you with nice shots. I give you your props.’
“Sparring with all them different champions has just made me much better. Say I get in there with some of these guys like amateurs and stuff, I be getting hit more, ’cause I’ll play down to they level. When I get in the ring with somebody that got they skill level up, my skill level jump up much higher. They all tell me little certain stuff to do and all that, and how to control my breathing, and I just take it and put my own little twist on it.
“Not to be bragging or nothing, but they’re like, ‘He handling his own in the ring, he don’t get hit.’ I’m more on point, and I’m focused a lot. Throw my jab, a sharp, crisp jab, and power shots with them.
“These guys are champions. They’ll make you be on point, ’cause if you make a mistake, they going to make you pay for that mistake. So I know if I get in there and fight for a title, I know I can handle my own in there. It don’t matter who they bring in the ring with me.”
Paul showed in his some of his early fights that he can box, move, and be elusive – that he can be successful in the “Just win today, you can look good tomorrow” flavor. But he’s shown another side of himself in recent fights. Having matured physically – he made his debut a week before his 19th birthday, and just turned 25 about three weeks ago – and with six years of experience in the ring and various training camps, Paul’s confidence has grown and his style has become much more aggressive. Even his interviews are now more assertive. The shy kid from a small southern town of a couple of years ago – “As long as I listen to my corner, I come out with the ‘W’ ” – is now ready to punish the best in the world.
He said, “I’ve changed, because now I throw a lot of punches and stuff, and I got a lot more energy. That’s the way I train, I work hard. I guess the big thing I got now that’s going on with me is I can throw a lot of punches and be in amazing shape doing it, and I can take some punches. I don’t like to take punches, I guess I take a lot of punches because I be throwing a lot of punches. My offense is my defense, my hands be out a lot.
“I go in there to punish him. I really feel like when you get in a fight, you come to fight. Boxing is a fight. When a guy is hitting me and stuff, they going to have to bring it. I’m going to hit them back four or five times, and I want to get the best shots. In that last fight, I felt the punches, but it wasn’t to the point where I was going to fall or go to sleep. It was like, ‘OK, he got some good shots in, now I got to get my good shots back in.’
“Me and Sharmba, I tell you like this. I’m not being big-headed saying I’m all that, but I’m going to win, and I’m going to knock him out. I know he going to be on the run and try to do all that little slick movement, but that’s OK. I’m just going to keep pressing him, keep pressing him, throw a lot of punches and make him spend his little energy, and if he close, I’m going to rough him up in there. I’m going to put my weight on him, I’m going to make him fight. He going to have to fight.
“To me, fighting a lefthander is just like fighting a righthanded person. I do them all the same, I keep that pressure on them and keep that punching going. It doesn’t matter if they lefthanded or righthanded, they could be both-handed. I love to fight, that’s why I’m in this business. I like it. The main thing is to hit them hard enough and give them enough pain to make them quit. “I’m not looking past Sharmba Mitchell, but after I get past Sharmba Mitchell, I’m definitely looking forward to Margarito. And if Margarito keeps on ducking me, I wouldn’t mind taking Baldomir or any of them guys guys that got them belts at 147. ‘Cause they know I’m the truth, and I’m going to bring it to them. I’m ready to go. “The fans, they deserve a real good fight. They don’t want to see no guy up there take four rounds to throw a punch. I’d turn the TV off. I want to see some action and stuff. That’s what I like to give them.
“When them guys at HBO say they want to see Zab fight this guy, they want to see Margarito fight that guy, tell them to throw The Punisher’s name up in there. I want them to call my name out there right along with them.”
Regarding his nickname, he said, “When we were just starting out, we went down to Atlanta and sparred down there. And we was coming back and my manager had stopped at a waffle house, and he said I had to find a name. We were just going over all kind of stuff, and I said, “The Punisher.’ It just sounded good.”
|Date of Birth||July 27th, 1981|
|Place of Birth||Aiken, South Carolina|