Julian Williams’ days in the cutthroat junior middleweight division are numbered.
“I think I have another two more fights then I’m going up [to the middleweight division],” the former 154-pound titleholder said on a recent episode of Time Out with Ray Flores.
Williams, who recently recovered from surgery involving his eyes, teased that those two fights could consist of an interim bout followed by a title shot against the winner of a possible unification fight between Jeison Rosario and Jermell Charlo.
“From what I hear, I think Rosario and Jermell is gonna unify, fight for the undisputed championship,” Williams (27-2-1, 16 KOs) said.
After that, though, it’s bon voyage to the division in which he was operated his entire career.
“160 is the future, absolutely,” he said.
The main reason for the move is that Williams is finding it more and more difficult to cut down to the 154-pound limit, a weight that he has maintained for essentially his entire adolescent and adult life.
“Those extra six pounds is a lot,” Williams explained. “Only fighters understand how [hard] it is to cut weight, what it feels like to have an extra six pounds.
“I’ve been fighting at this weight since I was 15. When I went to the Silver Gloves as a 15 year old, I fought at 147 [lbs]. When I came back, I turned Open Class and I fought at 152. And when I turned pro, I turned 154. So I’ve been fighting between 147 and 154 for my entire life. So I think it’s getting to be a little much, so I’m gonna go up soon.
Doing so, of course, means leaving perhaps the most ruthless weight class in the sport. Williams should know. He was knocked out earlier this year by then unknown Jeison Rosario (20-1-1, 14KOs) in what was supposed to be a homecoming celebration of sorts in his hometown of Philadelphia. The loss stripped Williams of his title belt, which he had won in convincing and dramatic fashion back in 2019 over then titleholder Jarrett Hurd (24-1, 16KOs).
Add the two hotly-contested fights between the other 154-pound conspirators Jermell Charlo (33-1, 17KOs) and Tony Harrison and no other division has come close to producing a de facto, elite-level round-robin tournament as the 154-pound class.
And yet, despite the enthusiasm the division has garnered over the years, Williams believes it’s still vastly overlooked.
“I think it’s the most competitive division in boxing, but for whatever reason, the division don’t get that much credit,” Williams said. “The original 8 division always get the most credit. 35, 47, 60, light heavyweight, heavyweight, they’re always going to get more credit than the junior divisions, which only came around in the ‘70s. That’s over my head, nothing I can do about that.”
On what went wrong in the Rosario fight, Williams preferred to stay mum.
“The only thing that people care about are the results,” he said. “History is not going to say Julian Williams lost the title to Jeison Rosario because XYZ.”