Q&A: Julian Williams
Unbeaten junior middleweight prospect Julian Williams returns to action on Thursday against unbeaten Puerto Rican puncher Eliezer Gonzalez live on Fox Sports 1 starting at 9:30p.m. ET/PT.
Williams is unperturbed that Gonzalez comes from the Felix Trinidad camp.
“He looks like a confident guy but there’s only one Tito Trinidad,” Williams told RingTV.com from his camp in Philadelphia prior to leaving for Las Vegas, where the “Golden Boy Live!” card takes place. “If he was Trinidad he’d have been over (to America) much sooner. I’m not fighting Felix Trinidad, I’m fighting Eliezer Gonzalez.”
The Philadelphia-born fighter intends to use the fight as a springboard to bigger and better things.
Williams (16-0-1, 10 knockouts) is currently under the radar, and not ranked in the top 15 by any of the sanctioning bodies. Though not bothered, he does feel a little disrespected and says that fuels his desire to succeed further.
“Obviously, somewhere somehow someone is underrating me and overrating other people,” said the 24 year old. “I’m just here to prove everybody wrong.”
As well as Williams-Gonzalez the three-fight telecast will also include Luis Ortiz-Lateef Kayode heavyweight bout, while Jesus Cuellar puts his WBA interim 126-pound strap on the line against former two-weight champion Juan Manuel Lopez.
Anson Wainwright – What are your thoughts on your fight with Gonzalez?
Julian Williams – I think it’s a good match up. I think he’s a hungry kid, I think he wants to get on and make noise himself. I’m preparing myself for the best Eliezer Gonzalez, even though I don’t have too much tape on him. I’m preparing myself for everything. I’ll be ready to go Sept. 11 and bring an exciting victory back to Philadelphia.
AW – The fight will be on Fox Sports 1 as part of the build up towards the Floyd Mayweather-Marcos Maidana rematch.
JW – Yeah, it’s definitely a good opportunity, I get a lot of exposure. I was out there last year, as you know. I fought (Hugo Centeno) the same day last year. There was a lot of media people out there just helping me get my buzz out and I put on a decent performance even though I didn’t come away with a win because it ended up being a no-contest (due to a cut suffered by Centeno), but still it was great exposure and it was a great experience.
AW – In your most recent fight you knocked Michael Medina out in eight rounds. Tell us about that fight.
JW – It was a good, tough fight. The kind of fight a young fighter like myself needs to grow and improve. He was a good stiff test and he put up a great fight. I expected it to go how it went, I expected it to be tough, and I expected him to take a long beating. I ended up getting him out in the eighth round. It was a good fight.
AW – What was it like for you growing up in Philadelphia?
JW – I grew up in Philadelphia, like everybody, it’s tough especially being an inner-city black kid. It was pretty tough but it was definitely fun. It was always competitive whether it was boxing, football, basketball, whatever. There was definitely a lot of inner-city violence.
I wouldn’t say I was a good kid but I didn’t fall into what most guys fall in to. I wasn’t the perfect kid but boxing and being in the gym atmosphere, it just kept me around positive people, doing positive things to keep away from the streets a little bit. Definitely, boxing played a huge part in my success at the start. It was a great experience growing up in Philly.
AW – How did you become interested and then take up boxing?
JW – I was actually into basketball but I would see a guy running every day and I got curious and asked him why he was running, because people didn’t jog in our area, and he said he was a boxer and I thought he was lying. So he told me to go to the gym. I showed up and he introduced me to my old coach and everything kicked off from there and I haven’t looked back ever since I was 12 years old.
AW – You had a solid amateur career tell us about that?
JW – I went 77-10. I fought at basically every national tournament. I was ranked as high as number five in the country at one point. I was ranked number three as a J.O. (junior). I never won the nationals but did pretty well at the nationals.
AW – Last year was a tough one for you personally as your mother tragically passed away.
JW – The 13th (August) was the one year anniversary of her passing, as you know. I fought the biggest fight of my career (against Hugo Centeno) up until that point. A little bit before, a month before that fight (she passed). It was a rough time because leading up to the fight I was training and planning her funeral. I was comforting my family. It was a tough time but I just buckled down and got through.
I didn’t want to pull out of the biggest fight of my life because my mother went to work every day of her life so I didn’t want to have any excuses, even if I’d have stunk the joint out and lost I just didn’t want to have any excuses and use it as a motivation and use it as a reason to be great and not pull out. The whole team, Haymon called me and sent their condolences. Al Haymon called me and me told me I could pull out and reschedule. Honestly, I told him nobody cares about excuses. I’m going to go through with the fight and I’m gonna win. It was an extremely tough time in my life and every day it still hurts, it takes time, sometimes I wake up and it’s fresh. Me and my mother were close; some days are definitely better than others.
AW – Boxing in Philadelphia seems in a good place at the moment. Of course, top dog is still Bernard Hopkins, but underneath him you have Danny Garcia, who’s a world champion, Bryant Jennings is doing well at heavyweight, yourself, and Jessie Hart is one of the best young boxers in the game.
JW – I think the Philadelphia boxing scene right now is tremendous because we have all these different good fighters spread out in so many weight classes. I mean could you imagine over the next two years, it’s already for sure Bryant Jennings is getting a title shot, Danny Garcia’s a world champion, could you imagine if I won the title next and Jessie Hart won a title also? We’d have four world champions in one city and that’s not even mentioning the younger guys coming up, the rough tough Philadelphia fighters like Tevin Farmer (16-4-1, 3 KOs) and the former amateur stars like Steven Fulton who just signed with Al Haymon. There’s a kid Kyrone Davis (a middleweight, 4-0, 2 KOs), he’s actually from Delaware, but he’s fought his whole amateur career on the Philadelphia circuit so he’s basically from Philadelphia, he’s also signed with Al Haymon. There’s a bunch of guys. In about the next year you’re going to see a lot of Philadelphia fighters on TV because there’s so many of us and everybody can fight. Not everybody can make it, that’s the nature of the business, but there’s gonna be a lot of Philadelphia fighters on TV. You’re gonna see a lot of talent.
I just think it’s a great city for boxing right now. It’s always been a great city but for so many years Bernard Hopkins has held us down and nobody else could really win a world title besides Bernard Hopkins who had all them (middleweight) title defenses. I think there’s a good crop of young guys to carry the city once Bernard Hopkins exits the game.
AW – The junior middleweight division looks to be stacked with talent. What are your thoughts on the fighters rated in your division by THE RING?
C – Floyd Mayweather – Floyd is the best in the business right now. I can’t really say nothing else about him but he’s the best in the business. He’s succeeded from all angles, he won world titles, he makes the most money, he draws the biggest crowds, he draws the biggest rating. There’s absolutely nothing bad I can say about Floyd Mayweather inside and outside the ring.
1 – Canelo Alvarez – I think Canelo is a star. I think he’s very beatable and I can’t wait until I have the opportunity to prove to everybody how beatable he is but also he is a good fighter. A lot of people think because he’s a superstar that he’s privileged but just because he’s privileged doesn’t mean he’s not great. That guy’s fought some great competition over the past two years or so, (Austin) Trout, Floyd (Mayweather), come right back and to fight (Alfredo) Angulo, then he fights (Erislandy) Lara, so I have nothing bad to say about him. I just think he’s beatable.
2 – Erislandy Lara – He’s a good fighter, he’s another guy who’s tricky. I wouldn’t consider him as the best junior middleweight in the world. I think he’s a good solid fighter but I think he’s beatable.
3 – Carlos Molina – He’s tricky. If you look at him on tape you see no threat but he’s the kind of guy looking at him and being inside the ring with him is two different things. Just ask James Kirkland. James Kirkland is probably the most feared man in the division and Carlos Molina was taking it to him. I’m a big fan of Carlos Molina.
4 – Austin Trout – Is a good guy, he can fight too. He’s more physically tough than skilful. He’s one of those guys he has no quit in him. I can definitely respect that. He’s fought in good competition (Miguel) Cotto, Canelo, Erislandy Lara, he’s got a pretty decent resume even though he’s dropped a few. He’s a tough guy with a good skillset.
5 – Demetrius Andrade – Is probably the most difficult guy in the division because he’s so long and he’s a southpaw. He throws a lot of punches. I don’t think he has the biggest punch but he’s super busy. I think he’s going to be difficult for anybody to beat.
6 – Vanes Martirosyan – He’s another one, he’s pretty good. He’s just solid. I have nothing bad to say about him. Every time out you’re going to be in for a fight with him, he’s not going to lay down. He’s got plenty of heart, he’s got decent skillset.
7 – Willie Nelson – Is a good fighter, his size is threat to anybody. I don’t think he has the best chin in the world but one thing he does have is a big heart and a good gas tank and those two combinations could be a threat to anybody in the junior middleweight division.
8 – Jermell Charlo – He’s got solid boxing skills. I think he punches harder than a lot of people give him credit for, he’s a good fighter.
9 – Ishe Smith – I think he’s a good fighter but to be honest I think his best days are behind him and he’s trying to cash out and maximize his earning potential and fight the biggest fights he can, which I don’t blame him for, he’s had a long career. He’s ready to make some money and get out. He paid his dues.
10 – Jermall Charlo – I think Jermall is a good fighter. I think Jermall has a really good skillset but doesn’t have a big punch but to me he hasn’t fought anybody. I’ve seen him fight plenty of times but he hasn’t fought anybody. I don’t know how he is when he gets tired or hurt.
AW – How far do you feel you are from the top guys at 154-pounds?
JW – I think I’m right there. I think I have been fighting better competition than a few of the guys you mentioned that’s in the top 10. I mean no disrespect, but definitely Jermall (Charlo). Sometimes I wonder how he’s in the top 10 and I’ve fought way better opposition that him. That’s just the way the dice roll sometimes I guess, but things like that keep me motivated.
AW – Looking at the division it seems there are some good young fighters coming through. There’s Canelo and Andrade, we spoke about the Charlo brothers, there’s also you. There seems to be a strong youth presence at 154-pounds?
JW – Yes definitely it’s definitely a good division. There’s always guys coming up, there’s about five guys nobody talks about. Guys like Chris Pearson, Steven Martinez, those kind of guys. Steven Martinez has a loss but it was a split decision to another unbeaten prospect and that was a few years ago, and he’s kind of rebounded a little bit and you have Chris Pearson he’s with the Money Team and he’s getting the best work and he’s trying to better himself, he’s getting better with every fight, you always have guys like that that you have to watch for. Then you got guys from overseas (Sergei) Rabchanka, Jack Culcay, Liam Smith, I think the division will thrive. There’s no shortage of talent in the junior middleweight division. Then you have the welterweights moving up. Kell Brook he looks like he’s busting out at the seams at (1)47, you’re gonna have guys moving up, up and coming guys, guys from overseas. The division is gonna be in good hands.
AW – Tell us about your life away from boxing?
JW – I’m pretty much a simple guy. I’m not a big partier, I don’t drink, I don’t smoke. I pretty much stay at home. I’m all boxing. I’m a big boxing fan, weird as that sounds. I’m in front of the TV, ESPN, Fox Sports, ShoBox. I’m 100 percent boxing. I’m a huge boxing fan. Some day I wouldn’t mind being a boxing manager and helping up-and-comers win world titles.
I really enjoy going to the movies. I enjoy shopping. I don’t like to collect nothing except checks! (laughs)
AW – In closing, do you have a message for the junior middleweight division?
JW – Nope, I don’t. I wanna stay as quiet as possible because I wanna make a big splash. I know I’m not a secret anymore but I still feel as though there are a lot of people underestimating me. I’ve been fighting pretty good competition and I’m in nobody’s top 15 in the four sanctioning bodies. I know I’m 16-0 but I look at other guys and I see who they fought and I’ve been fighting better guys. I believe they’re underestimating me, overrating other people. I’m gonna prove everybody wrong. I don’t wanna call nobody out, I don’t wanna talk trash, I’m just do what I’ve always been doing and that’s working and keep getting better and keep improving and keep beating these guys up.