BETHLEHEM, PA. - Undefeated top contender Julian "J-Rock" Williams and Italy's Marcello Matano went face-to-face for the first time Thursday at the final press conference before they meet with the IBF's No. 1 spot at 154-pounds on the line this Saturday, March 5 live on SHOWTIME® (10 p.m. ET/PT) from Sands Bethlehem Events Center in Bethlehem, Pa.
Saturday's SHOWTIME BOXING: SPECIAL EDITION® tripleheader features middleweight matchups between rising contender Antoine Douglas and Avtandil Khurtsidze and exciting Detroit prospect Tony Harrison against former title challenger Fernando Guerrero.
Tickets for the live event, which is promoted by King's Promotions, are priced at $100, $75 and $50, not including applicable service charges and taxes and are on sale now. Tickets are available HERE at www.ticketmaster.com. To charge by phone call Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000.
Here is what the fighters had to say Thursday:
"I want to thank Matano and his team for coming all the way over here. We've had a difficult time getting opponents for different reasons, but I'm excited to headline this stacked card.
"When I win this fight I'll be able to accomplish my dream of being a world champion. It's one step closer.
"I'm going to attack the head and body as much as I can. I've got enough film on him to see what he's got. He's pretty solid. He got better each time out. But those guys in Italy don't have the skills that I have. I think he's going to bring it for as long as he can handle it.
"He's an awkward fighter. He's definitely a boxer and he can be a little skittish in the ring. I know I've fought the better competition and I've trained my hardest for this.
"I'm ready to make a statement. I'm not worried about a knockout. However the win comes, it's great. I'm just looking to win and beat him down.
"I'm expecting a good Philadelphia crowd to be out here supporting me. Ninety percent of my career I've been on the West Coast and other places. But now fighting in front of my hometown fans, there's nothing better. It's perfect."
"I feel very good. I've been here since Friday so I have gotten used to the time zone difference and I'm ready to fight. My American experience is just starting and I'm looking forward to it.
"It's been a hard two months of training for this fight. This is by far the most important fight of my career so I've trained even harder than I usually do.
"I know that Julian Williams is a top-notch athlete and that he is coming to give his best, just like I am. It's going to be an exciting fight because we both want to get to the top.
"I can adapt myself to any opponent. I can be a boxer or I can be a brawler. But in my heart, I am a warrior and I will come forward all fight. I am coming to leave that ring victorious.
"This is a dream come true to come here to the United States. I've always worked hard and it's gotten me here. I will put all of my heart into the ring on Saturday night."
"You can always look forward to an action-packed fight when I step into the ring. I have an admirable opponent who I know is coming to fight.
"I've grown into this role and into who I am. If you asked me earlier in my career, I would have never thought I'd be here. This is great and it comes from all the hard work I've put in over the years.
"You will see my growth Saturday night in the ring. I plan on being victorious. The work I put in won't let me be any less than that. I'm looking forward to the action.
"I have a very strong opponent and I think it will make for a more exciting fight than Sam Soliman.
"I just always have to be prepared for whatever is thrown at me. This is boxing - there are no guarantees. We just have to be prepared for everything and do our best.
"The styles of Soliman and Khurtsidze are completely different, but we always base our offense and defense off a fighting at range and working the jab. I'm not going in blind - I've faced opponents who come forward. We'll be ready for him and ready to make the adjustments in the ring.
"A win on Saturday will definitely put me in a position for a title shot. We just take it day-by-day. It's not about looking at future opponents. We take each step successfully and see where it puts us."
"I'm very happy to be here and I'm grateful for the opportunity. I'm fighting a very strong fighter. Once I step into the ring I'm expecting a good challenge and I can't wait for Saturday night.
"Everything in training went well. We've trained really hard and we're ready for Saturday night.
"Douglas is a good fighter. He's a good boxer and he has a good left hook. But none of that means anything until you get in the ring.
"Once I step into the ring, I will bring 100 percent. I am not going to stop swinging until Douglas goes down."
"We're ready to fight. We had a great training camp and there's not too much to say. It's warrior time.
"I've been through my ups and downs, but I'm still here and I'm not going anywhere. This is for my whole nation, everyone in the Dominican Republic who is watching. You have to step in that ring for something.
"This isn't a game. This is the only sport that you cannot play. I'm going to make this one of those fights that will be one of the best of the year. It will either be the best knockout or the best fight of the year. This is going to be memorable.
"This is the kind of opponent who will bring out the best of me. Everybody has to watch out for me. I'm coming to make a statement on Saturday."