By Jake Donovan
Julian 'J-Rock' Williams got his Irish on in Boston, celebrating St. Patrick's Day with a 3rd round knockout of veteran Freddy Hernandez in their Fox Sports 1-televised main event.
Williams scored knockdowns in rounds one and three, the latter good to end the fight.
The threat of an early evening came with the first punch thrown in the fight. Williams came firing right from the opening bell, sending the normally durable Hernandez to the canvas mere seconds into their main event.
If there was a moral victory to be found for Hernandez, it was that he managed to make it out of the opening round. Williams was measured yet relentless in his attack, determined to make an impression on the Boston crowd making the road trip from his native Philadelphia.
While surviving the first two rounds, Hernandez entered the third with a false sense of hope that he could take the unbeaten prospect some rounds. A single left hook put an end to those dreams, as Williams managed to floor the veteran and keep him down.
The official time was 0:35 of round three.
Williams cruises to 15-0-1 (9KO) with the win, scoring his second straight knockout win to help balance out a record that doesn't quite justify his natural power. The Philly prospect comes in deceptively strong, a lesson his opponents learn only once it's too late to adjust.
Hernandez was the latest to fall prey, suffering the third knockout loss of his career as he falls to 30-7 (20KO).
The bout was just the first of 2014 for Williams. The 23-year old was supposed to appear on the previous edition of "Golden Boy Live" on Fox Sports 1, but his showcase on the Feb. 10 card fell through after opponent Alex Bunema was scratched due to failing his medical exams.
Despite the delay, Williams still manages to pick up where he left off following a red-hot 2013 campaign. The unbeaten super welterweight managed five wins on the year, including a knockout of previously unbeaten Jeremiah Wiggins and appearing to have been well on his way a similar ending versus Hugo Centeno before their Sept. '13 bout ended on a cut. Wedged in between was a strong showing versus former 154 lb. titlsit Joachim Alcine.
Alexis Santos made the most of his televised debut, scoring a 5th round knockout of Sylvester Barron.
The unbeaten local heavyweight jumped out to an explosive start, but the threat of an early knockout disappeared as he instead chose to fight in spurts. The fight remained in one direction, allowing Santos to build towards the explosive finish. Two right hands had Barron (8-4, 3KO) out on his feet, with a left hook bringing an emphatic close to the one-sided affair.
The official time was 2:08 of round five.
Santos improves to 13-0 (11KO). The 24-year old heavyweight prospect has scored five knockouts in the span of less than a year.
2012 Olympic silver medal winner John Joe Nevin of Ireland made his professional debut in a six rounder (instead of a four rounder), winning a unanimous decision over previously undefeated Alberto Candelaria (3-1-1, 2KOs) of Puerto Rico. The score was 59-55 across the board. After Nevin dominated the first four rounds, Candelaria came out throwing big bombs in the fifth and landed several good shots to bloody Nevin's nose. Nevin regained control in the sixth, outworking Candelaria to the bell.
Nevin beat Oscar Valdez in the Olympics games, but lost to eventual gold medal winner Luke Campbell.
Undefeated lightweight prospect Jamie Kavanagh (16-1-1, 7KOs) won an eight round unanimous decision over Andres Navarro (9-5-1, 6KOs). The scores were 78-72, 79-73, 79-73. The fight was very competitive early, but Kavanagh began to pull away as the rounds played out, with hard shots to the body and then coming back upstairs. Navarro of Puerto Rico stayed in there and never stopped fighting, and cut Kavanagh around the right eye in the final round.
Kavanagh bounces back under new trainer Joel Diaz. In his last fight, against Daniel Ruiz last December in Mexico, Kavanagh suffered his first career defeat with a sixth round knockout.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox