Thursday, September 28, 2023  |


Williams more than ready for Matano, 154-pound title shot

Fighters Network

Julian “J-Rock” Williams doesn’t have time for the song and dance. It’s all about being a world champion and nothing else matters. Not superfights, catchweight fights or anything that will get in the way of him achieving his primary goal.

“I’ve been thinking about being a world champion since I was 12 years old and now I’m knocking at the door,” the unbeaten 25-year-old junior middleweight contender told “It’s literally what I wake up and go to sleep thinking about. I can taste it. I’m so close.”

Tonight, on Showtime, he faces relative unknown Marcello Matano (16-1) in an IBF title eliminator at the Sands Bethlehem Event Center that’s nearby his hometown of Philadelphia.

Williams (21-0-1, 13 knockouts) has been vocal about landing a big fight with a recognizable name but hasn’t been able to find the right dance partner. Should he get past Matano, he’ll earn a shot at Jermall Charlo’s 154-pound title. But don’t think that Williams is looking past Matano. It’s actually quite the opposite.

“Just because nobody knows him doesn’t mean he can’t fight,” Williams said. “There are a lot of unknown guys who can fight. A lot of people didn’t know who I was for a number of years and look at me now.”

That mentality is the reason why Williams is always on his game. He has no desire to find a young up and coming talent with a hunger greater than his. Instead, he looks to take care of business and move another step closer to his dreams.

Speaking of dreams, if you have ever tuned into Williams’ Twitter account on fight night, what you will find is a boxer who has a great sense for commentary. His analysis of fights is usually spot on and entertaining. When asked if he had ever considered a career in commentating, Williams replies in the affirmative.

“One of my dreams when I’m finished boxing is becoming a boxing commentator,” Williams said. “I can break down a fight because I really watch boxing. I’m a fan first.”

When asked to breakdown Saul “Canelo” Alvarez’ upcoming fight with Amir Khan, Williams took a different route in analyzing the fight. Rather than focus squarely on Canelo’s size advantage, he opted to look at a part of Khan’s game that he feels is lacking.

“Khan fights southpaws way better than he fights orthodox fighters,” Williams explained. “Every right-handed fighter he faces ends up hurting him real bad.”

Williams ran down a number of names that have all hurt Khan badly, which includes Julio Diaz, Marcos Maidana and Danny Garcia. “He fights southpaws way better,” he said. “Look at what he did to Devon Alexander. But if there’s an orthodox fighter with a good left hook, he’s in trouble. And Canelo is an orthodox fighter with a monster left hook so whatever round Canelo puts his hands on Khan that will be the last we hear of him.”

Williams also believes that Canelo should face Gennady Golovkin at the 160-pound weight limit and “respect the sport.”

“I think Canelo needs to stop trying to make his own weight class,” Williams said. “I think Canelo should be fighting GGG at 160. He won the middleweight title and that’s not contested at 155 pounds. But I think they messed up when Cotto did it first and now Canelo wants to do it too. GGG should stand his ground and not come down to 155.”

Don’t take this at Williams trying to lobby for a shot at Canelo or Cotto, either. If they don’t have a junior middleweight title, J-Rock isn’t in a hurry to fight them. Right now, it’s all about a world championship.

“I want to win the title first and then we can talk about Canelo and Cotto and all those guys,” Williams said. “If I don’t fight Charlo, it’ll be because he turned down the fight. I’m coming for that title.”

Once he has that title, nobody can steer clear of him in the division. And that’s just the way he wants it.

“I want to build my legacy,” he said. “As soon as I win that strap you’re going to see some great fights. I don’t want to fight the 150th ranked junior middleweight. I just want the best.”