Julian Williams has a dance partner for his homecoming title defense.
BoxingScene.com has learned that the unified junior middleweight titlist will face Miami’s Jeison Rosario for his first defense. As previously reported by BoxingScene.com, Williams’ fight tops a Jan. 18 edition of Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) on Fox, airing live from the Liacouras Center on the campus of Temple University in his hometown of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
RingTV.com contributor and Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) president Joe Santoliquito was the first to report the news of Rosario as the confirmed opponent. PBC representatives have declined comment as neither the bout nor the show itself has yet been formally announced, although reliable sources have confirmed the matchup to BoxingScene.com.
The undercard will also likely include locally based unbeaten junior featherweight Stephen ‘Cool Boy Steph’ Fulton (17-0, 8KOs), whom has advanced from a top prospect to his current industry standing and is eyeing a collision course with fellow undefeated divisional rival Brandon Figueroa in 2020.
Original plans called for a rematch between Williams and Hurd, which was targeted for Dec. 14 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. The bout would have aired live in primetime on Fox, as did their fiery first fight in which Williams floored Hurd (23-1, 16KOs)— then an unbeaten and unified titlist in round two en route to a well-earned unanimous decision in their Fight of the Year-level war this past May in Fairfax, Virginia.
The title-lifting effort over Hurd ran Williams’ current win streak to five in a row. The lone loss of his career came in his previous title bid, suffering a 5th round stoppage in an otherwise competitive effort versus Jermall Charlo in Dec. 2016.
Several factors came into play as to why the rematch never materialized, though largely coming down to Hurd—who has since parted ways with longtime trainer Ernesto Rodriguez—opting to take his career in a different direction.
Along with the bout falling through, so did plans for the entire show in general. Fox Sports has scrapped the date, instead running a primetime edition of PBC on Fox on Dec. 21 with another 154-pound title fight rematch, as reigning titlist Tony Harrison faces former claimant Jermell Charlo in a rematch to their title-changing clash exactly 52 weeks prior, which also aired on Fox.
Four weeks later will come Williams’ hometown headliner, his first fight in Philadelphia in nearly eight years. The closest he’s come to fighting at home since then came in back-to-back appearances at Sands Bethlehem Event in Bethlehem, roughly an hour north of Philly.
Rosario enters his first career title fight, and—as was the case when Williams entered his title challenge of Hurd—as a considerable underdog heading into the hometown of the defending titlist. The 24-year old from Miami, Florida by way of Dominican Republic is unbeaten in his last eight starts following a 9th round stoppage to Nathaniel Gallimore in April 2017. The lone hiccup along the way came in a Feb. 2018 draw with Mark Anthony Hernandez, whom he stopped in the 9th round of their rematch this past February.
Most recently, Rosario scored a 10-round split decision over Mexico’s Jorge Cota this past April in Carson, California.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox