Paralysed Paul making progress
Paul Williams can move from his bed to a wheelchair but doctors say it is too early to say if he will be able to walk again.
Williams was paralysed from the waist down in a motorbike accident on May 27.
Dr Donald P Leslie, the medical director at the Shepherd Centre in Atlanta, said on Wednesday the former welterweight champion's spinal cord is not cut, but the severity of the damage remains undetermined.
"There's no evidence of any severing; he had a fracture of his spine," Dr Leslie said.
"The fracture is of the bone. The bone encircles the spinal cord. The spinal cord was injured . . . and that interferes with the transmission of nerves from above to below."
Williams, 30, had surgery last Friday to stabilise his spine, and is in rehabilitation in the Shepherd Centre.
"He is injured at the mid-chest level, the mid-thorax, and . . . was stabilised with instrumentation," Leslie said. "His spine was fused."
Williams first won the welterweight title in 2007 with a win over Antonio Margarito. He lost the belt Carlos Quintana seven months later. His fight on September 15 in Las Vegas against Saul Alvarez has been cancelled.
George Peterson, his long-time trainer and manager, said Williams’s spirits were high.
"I've been with him about 14 years, and I've seen him come from behind many times," Peterson said. "He'll say, 'Don't worry about it; we'll take care of it.' That was his same quote about this injury, 'Don't worry about it; we'll take care of it.'
"It's unbelievable the attitude he has. He said he wanted to throw some punches, 'Get me a mitt man.' He said, 'If I don't box again, I'm going to do some stand-up comedy.' "
Leslie said a sprained right wrist has impeded Williams's rehabilitation slightly. The boxer is left-handed, and has been aggressive in therapy.
"He was telling me about his training and I told him this is going to be one of the biggest training sessions of your life, and he's ready for it," the doctor said.
"His attitude is incredible. It is much too early to tell whether he would be able to box again. If attitude will get him in the ring, he's there.
"He's in a wheelchair, manoeuvring independently. He can roll over independently in bed.
“He's transferring out of the bed into the wheelchair, out of the wheelchair and on to the mat to work with the therapists. He's working on dressing himself, grooming himself, all the things that we all do every day, what we call activities of daily living."
Leslie anticipates Williams to master these skills quickly.
"He will probably be here for a month. The average time for people is typically about four to six weeks, but he's in such great shape. He's young, he's healthy; he has a great attitude that might get him through quicker.
“We may extend some outpatient therapy, the day programme Beyond Therapy
if he's an appropriate candidate."
Leslie said it was impossible to predict the likelihood of Williams walking.
"I can't give you odds. Unless he recovers some of the nervous energy that gives the lower extremity muscles the ability to contract and support him, he would not walk.
"It may be days to weeks before we'll have a better idea whether he'll be walking again. Whether he does, or whether he won't, he will be independent when he leaves here. We have had patients with similar injuries who have walked."