By Jake Donovan
Julian "J-Rock" Williams has spent the better part of the past two years chasing any relevant super welterweight fight that would move him closer to a title shot. The unbeaten contender from Philadelphia is now one fight away from that dream, as he faces Italy's Marcello Matano in a 12-round title eliminator.
Both fighters made weight for their Showtime-televised headliner, which airs live from Sands Bethlehem Event Center in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Williams - who lives roughly one hour from the venue - weighed in at an always shredded 153.9 lbs. Matano (16-1, 5KOs) came in at a surprisingly light 150.4 lbs. for his first fight outside of his native Italy.
Williams (21-0-1, 13KOs) is coming off of a 1st round knockout of Lucian Cuello in this very same venue last September.
Julian Williams, 153.9 lbs. vs. Marcello Matano, 150.4 lbs. - 12 rds, super welterweight
Tony Harrison, 156.2 lbs. vs. Fernando Guerrero 156.6 lbs. - 10 rds, super welterweight
Antoine Douglas 158.7 lbs. vs. Avtandil Khurtsidze 160 lbs. - 10 rds, middleweight
“He obviously has a dream, and I have to respect his dream. It’s my job to break his dream.
“No one wanted to fight me. But this guy accepted it, he came here and he’s in my way.
“This is the biggest fight of my life. I win this and I fight for a title this year.
“People don’t want to see us dance around for 12 rounds. They want to see action.
“We opened camp on Nov. 9. We’ve been waiting for this fight and now it’s finally here.”
“My dream has always been to fight for the world title. Now, I’m almost there.
“People may not be familiar with me, but champions can be born everywhere.
“On paper, Williams is a better fighter, the favorite. But will he be able to translate his skills in the ring? That’s the question. I will be the more active fighter. I’ll push the action and frustrate him.”
“We’re coming to win. With the work we put in, we’re ready for anyone. We prepare the same way
“I just plan to go out there and win. Any guy with two hands is dangerous. We just have to fight out fight.
“This guy is so aggressive it’s going to hurt him. We know he’s going to keep coming but we’re going to keep our hands in his face.
“I haven’t made it yet. I’m still hungry. I know I need to win this fight to move on to the next step, to get my shot at the title.”
“We’re going to be aggressive. Once he feels the power he’s going to change his game plan. Once we take his jab away it’s going to be difficult for him.
“This is a huge opportunity for me. I have to win. Losing isn’t an option.
“There’s never been a world champ from Georgia. If I win this fight, I’m that much closer to becoming that first champion
“I sparred with Marcus Browne, (Ievgen) Khytrov, (Sergiy) Derevyanchenko. We had a great camp and now we’re ready to fight.”
“Mike Tyson is my favorite fighter. I model my style after him.”
“I don’t want to leave any questions. I don’t want to go 10 rounds with Fernando Guerrero
“I want to be back to where I was before I lost. To get back where I was, I have to win impressively. I think winning this fight gets me back to where I was.”
“I haven’t felt this good mentally and physically in a while. I’m more well-rounded now.
“This is my natural weight. When I was fighting at middleweight I was always the smaller fighter.
“Tony has some speed and he was a real good amateur, but I’m a veteran professional. I’m going to take him out of his comfort zone.”
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox