Can Julian Williams get the 154 pound division to stand up?
By Hector Franco
This past Saturday Night on a special edition of Showtime Championship Boxing, Julian “J Rock” Williams (22-0-1 with 14 KOs) scored an impressive seventh round stoppage over Marcello Matano. The victory made him the mandatory challenger for IBF Jr. Middleweight champion, Jermall Charlo (23-0 18 knockouts). It seems that through the eyes of public perception many of Williams’ fellow junior middleweights are reluctant to step in the ring with him. With all the controversy and negativity that usually surrounds boxing’s championship sanctioning bodies, it’s likely that a bout with Jermall Charlo wouldn’t even be brought up if it weren’t for the IBF. After his bout with Marcello in the post-fight interview with Showtime’s Steve Farhood, Williams’ let the world know how he felt about the situation with Jermall Charlo.
Williams’ expressed that he feels there is a possibility that Jermall Charlo may vacate his IBF title instead of facing him. If that is the case there is still a possibility for Williams to face Jermall’s brother, Jermell Charlo (27-0 with 12 KOs). Jermell Charlo is more of a pure boxer than his brother Jermall. Either one of these bouts would be welcomed by fight fans. At this point William’s is more concerned about getting the world title. If Jermall does decide to vacate the title, a matchup with Jermell to defend the title or fight for its vacancy would be just fine.
At one time there was a feud between William and Austin Trout (30-2 with 17 KOs) that was publicized through social media and television. Both fighters traded words and thus far nothing has come to fruition. William’s has been the most active junior middleweight in the division. He fought four times in 2014, three times in 2015 and has already fought once in 2016. Trout has been the opposite. Trout has been relatively inactive the last few years, staying out of the public’s eye. Whatever leverage Trout may have had leading to a bout with Williams is all but gone at this point. For Trout, rematches with the likes of Erislandy Lara and Canelo Alvarez are unlikely to occur. Unless Trout comes to the table with an offer for Williams it looks like this matchup will never take place.
Looking at the remaining fighters at junior middleweight for Williams to step in the ring with, it’s uncertain who would actually be willing to step in the ring with J Rock. If Austin Trout is going through issues of inactivity than former WBO 154 pound champion Demetrius Andrade (22-0 with 15 KOs) may be going through an early retirement phase in his career. Due to promotional issues a bout with Andrade would be unlikely to take place. Andrade only fought once in 2014 and once in 2015. The new recently crowned WBO champion, Liam Smith (22-0-1 with 12 KOs) from the UK may be willing to face Williams. He may need to go over to the UK to face Smith because he has a deep following in the UK and can survive defending the title in his native UK. If Williams became the IBF champion, a unification bout with Smith could be a big event in the UK.
Lastly facing off against the two remaining veterans in the division could prove to be beneficial for Williams’. Erislandy Lara (22-2-2 with 13 KOs) and Vanes Martirosyan (36-2-1 with 21 KOs) have the most experience in the 154-pound weight class. They faced each other to a draw. Both men combined have faced Austin Trout, Demetrius Andrade, Jermell Charlo and Canelo Alvarez just to name a few. Both men’s careers have plateaued as of late and are not scheduled for any future bouts as of now. A victory over either man, especially Lara would put William’s in the position to claim he is the best junior middleweight in the world.
Junior Middleweight is one of the most talent filled divisions in the sport of boxing. It goes under the radar because the best haven’t stepped in the ring against each other for the last few years. Julian Williams wants to change this and prove that he is the best in the division. The question is will the top ten in the division stand up to face him