PHILADELPHIA – The last time Julian Williams was stopped in a fight, the resilient Philadelphian rebuilt his career and came back to become a world champion.
Williams is certain he’ll do that again now that he has been upset by Jeison Rosario, who stopped Williams in the fifth round of their 154-pound title fight Saturday night at Temple University’s Liacouras Center.
“I’ve been here before,” Williams stated in a Tweet late Saturday night. “I’ll bounce back even better … congrats to Rosario for putting on a great performance.”
The difference this time is that the 29-year-old Williams won’t have to wait and win multiple bouts before he gets another title shot. The Dominican Republic’s Rosario (20-1-1, 14 KOs) is contractually obligated to give Williams a rematch.
Williams (27-2-1, 16 KOs, 1 NC) intends to exercise that contractual right immediately, which should lead to him facing Rosario a second time in his next fight sometime later this year.
Philadelphia’s Williams would’ve had to fight Jarrett Hurd again, rather than an optional opponent in Rosario, had Hurd welcomed the immediate rematch Williams owed him after upsetting Hurd by unanimous decision in their 12-round, 154-pound championship match May 11 in Fairfax, Virginia. Hurd passed on that immediate rematch, which, as per terms of their contracts, eliminated Hurd’s guarantee for a second fight with Williams.
Hurd (23-1, 17 KOs), of Accokeek, Maryland, instead will face Francisco Santana (25-7-1, 12 KOs) in a 10-rounder Saturday night Showtime will televise from Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The 29-year-old Hurd hasn’t fought since Williams beat him eight months ago to win the IBF, IBO and WBA titles.
Before losing to Rosario, Williams won five consecutive fights after Jermall Charlo knocked him out in the fifth round of their December 2016 fight in Los Angeles for Charlo’s IBF junior middleweight title. Among Williams’ wins during that stretch was a 12-round, majority-decision defeat of Nathaniel Gallimore, who had stopped Rosario in the sixth round nearly a year earlier.
Those results were inconsequential Saturday night, when Rosario ruined Williams’ homecoming. Williams was at least a 30-1 favorite according to most Internet sports books, but Rosario hurt him badly during the fifth round and stopped him 1:37 into that round.
Williams suffered a cut on his left eyelid from one of Rosario’s punches in the second round. Until Rosario rocked Williams with a right-left combination in the fifth, though, he hadn’t hurt the former champion.
Referee Benjy Esteves justifiably stopped the action after Rosario’s vicious right uppercut and follow-up left hook knocked Williams into the ropes.
“I wasn’t surprised [Rosario] was so good,” Williams said. “I told everybody he’s a real fighter. I have to accept it. The cut blurred my vision a bit, but it wasn’t the reason why I lost. He was the better fighter tonight. We’ve got a rematch clause. I’ll see him again soon. I’ll be back.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.