Tuesday, February 27, 2024  |



Julian ‘J-Rock’ Williams rocks Luciano Cuello, eyes Austin Trout next

Fighters Network

BETHLEHEM, Pennsylvania ÔÇö Julian “J-Rock” Williams wants to be seen. He wants to be recognized by fight fans. But the West Philly junior middleweight didn’t give the Premier Boxing Champions TV audience that much of chance to see everything Tuesday night at the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem, devouring Luciano Cuello on FS1 and Fox Deportes in a mere 93 seconds.

Cuello (35-4, 17 knockouts) was supposed to pose a threat to Williams (21-0-1, 13 KOs). The 31-year-old Argentinian had only previously lost to Willie Nelson, Canelo Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. It didn’t matter. Williams stomped on him from the opening bell and a straight right bubbled up Cuello’s left eye. Referee Gary Rosato quickly waved it over at 1:33.

But that was just the beginning.

Serving as color analyst on the telecast was former WBA junior middleweight titlist Austin Trout. Williams dipped between the ropes and immediately put out a challenge.

“I’m taking it all in, and I’m still getting better,” said Williams, who recorded his first first-round knockout in four years, since he was fighting four-rounders. “I didn’t even break a sweat. I waited two hours for the undercard fights, and spent 93 seconds getting this guy out. Give me anybody. Trout is not a world champion; he’s not a superstar like Canelo or (Miguel) Cotto. I’ll take on anybody. But I went over to Trout (after the fight) and told him, ‘I have no problem with you, you’re just in my way.’ I admire him and know his story. He’s just in my way, and it’s a great fight to make. We’re both with Al (Haymon). Trout’s ranked third by The Ring, I’m ranked seventh. It’s a great fight to make. Let’s make it.”

Trout actually agreed.

“J-Rock is a solid fighter and he didn’t show me anything that I didn’t know before,” Trout said. “J-Rock took out Cuello faster than Canelo did. I would like to see if J-Rock is ready for me. I would take that fight. He just got a nice knockout in this main event, and it’s time for him and me. J-Rock told me he didn’t hate me, and this is a business, and I’m in his way. I want to do it. It would be a great fight. It’s something that’s going to happen. We’re talking money, he would get me a good payday. I beat Julian Williams, I would get my respect back. I don’t care where the fight is, either.”

In a scheduled eight-round super middleweight bout, Caleb Plant (10-0, 8 KOs) had some fun. The 23-year-old from Ashland City, Tenn., went beyond four rounds for the first time in his brief pro career, chewing up Jamar Freeman (13-5-2, 7 KOs) in a unanimous eight-round decision.

Plant threw some histrionics in, like in the third, when he stopped fighting and kissed his raised right hand, as if to say his hand was too hot for Freeman to handle. Actually, it was. Judges Tom Schreck and Steve Weisfeld both had Plant winning 80-71, and Ron McNair scored it for 79-72 for “Sweet Hands.”

“I was boxing, having fun and staying composed,” Plant said. “This is the first time I went this amount of rounds and I didn’t want to force anything. I wanted to stay control. I’m satisfied. I felt he touched me with too many jabs. One jab is too many. There are some things we want to tighten up. I’d give myself a B-minus, but I’m hard on myself.”

On the undercard, undefeated Mexican Moises “Chucky” Flores (24-0, 17 KOs), the “interim” WBA super bantamweight titlist, kept his record clean with a 12th-round TKO victory of Argentinian Luis Cusolito (21-2, 19 KOs). The two put on a spirited fight, before Flores began asserting himself in the fourth, extending his left arm as a range finder and winging wide rights through Cusolito’s high guard. The problem the Mexican had was each time he seemed to be taking control, Cusolito kept coming back.

In the fifth, Flores drove Cusolito against the ropes with body shots and uppercuts. Cusolito, however, continued battling back. It just seemed a matter of how much he had left to stay with Flores. The next round, it was more of the same. Flores bodied up Cusolito, shouldering him in the corner. This time, though, Cusolito began showing signs of fatigue. His counters lost some snap and a reddish hue covered his face.

With a little over a minute left in the eighth, referee Benji Esteves warned Flores about slamming his shoulder into Cusolito. By the ninth, Flores appeared in full control. In the waning seconds of the 11th, Esteves began taking a close look at the punishment Cusolito was taking. At :57 of the final round, Esteves saw enough, wisely stepping in to stop a very good, action fight.

“I hurt my hand in the second round,” Cusolito said. “I thought in several rounds I was going to knock him out. But I got over confident, and he has a great chin. He’s a very strong champion. I was fighting hard, but the ref thought I had taken too many punches. I could have continued. I want to come back and show my skills and heart to my fans in Argentina.”

Afterward, Flores offered to step up and take on Leo Santa Cruz, the “super” WBA featherweight champion.

“I won this fight because of how I prepared,” Flores said. “This was all about my preparation and dedication in the gym. I left my home in Mexico and went to Miami for 10 weeks to train for this fight. We didn’t do exactly what we planned, but my conditioning helped me get through that battle tonight. I’m very happy to be get this interim title, but I want a shot at Leo Santa Cruz next. I’ll go up to 126 pounds to make that happen if he wants. This was a huge jump for me being on a PBC card and fighting on FS1 and FOX Deportes. Great fighters get this honor and it feels wonderful to be a part of a card like this.”

Off TV, 18-year-old Chris “Little B-Hop” Colbert (3-0, 2 KOs) remained unbeaten with a four-round decision over Jose Carmona (1-2).