The unified World Super Welterweight Champion faces a tough test in his Philadelphia homecoming bout live Saturday night on FOX.
Unified World Super Welterweight Champion Julian “J-Rock” Williams (27-1-1, 16 KOs) is coming home to Philadelphia to make the first defense of his belts, but hard-hitting Jeison “Banana” Rosario (19-1-1, 13 KOs) hopes to spoil the champion’s homecoming party.
This Saturday, January 18, live from Temple University's Liacouras Center, the two all-action 154-pounders will clash in a twelve-round world title bout atop a FOX PBC Fight Night and FOX Deportes card (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT).
On the undercard, undefeated rising star Chris “Prime Time” Colbert meets former world champ Jezreel Corrales for the interim WBA super featherweight title.
For the first time since 2011, Philly fighter Julian Williams fights in his hometown and brings with him the title belts won in May’s Fight of the Year war against Jarrett Hurd.
With the return home, the 29-year-old faces all of the distractions associated with fighting in front of friends, family, and hardcore fans. The level-headed new champ, however, claims to be focused only on Saturday’s fight.
Rosario, meanwhile, is looking to continue his trend of upsetting highly-regarded talents. The native of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic is not a household name, but already holds decisive victories over high-end prospects such as Justin DeLoach, Mark Anthony Hernandez, and Jamontay Clark. Even in his lone defeat, he managed to shake up the more seasoned Nathaniel Gallimore in 2017 before being stopped in the sixth round.
Rosario, who is undefeated in eight bouts since the Gallimore loss, hopes to do to Williams what Williams did to Hurd—upset the defending champ in the champ’s own home town.
Williams’ WBA and IBF super welterweight titles are on the line and, also, the money and prestige that go along with them. For both Williams and Rosario, the world championship represents the pinnacle of success as prizefighters. The challenger wants to push for this ultimate career goal—the reward for a lifetime of hardship, hard work, and self-sacrifice. The champion wants to keep what he’s achieved by working through his own struggles and hardships.
Williams’ masterful title-winning performance against Hurd may have surprised some who wrote him off after his fifth-round KO loss to Jermall Charlo in 2016, but it was hardly shocking to most knowledgeable boxing people.
“J-Rock” is a well-schooled boxer-puncher under the guidance of trainer Stephen “Breadman” Edwards. He possesses a diverse and solid skill set and does just about everything well. Offensively, he has good balance, is always in position to throw something meaningful, and can deliver solid power with either hand. He can be equally effective on the inside or from the outside. At his best, he works behind a solid jab which he uses to control the pace and space of a fight.
On the downside, Williams has shown some defensive lapses, especially in the heat of battle. When things get going, he can and does get hit.
“ it’s a matter of being focused and on top of my game, and I think I’ll take care of him. ” Unified World Super Welterweight Champion - Julian Williams
The 24-year-old Rosario is a tenacious, heavy-handed stalking puncher bursting with self-confidence and a flair for the dramatic who is always looking to land a big shot. Dangerous from opening bell to closing bell, “Banana” is all about making impact and everything he throws is delivered with bad intent.
Rosario’s penchant for loading up in search of a fight-ending punch, however, leads him to fall off balance when he can’t connect and that makes him vulnerable to counters.
"Rosario brings ambition to the table. I think he’s an ambitious kid. And I don’t think it’s a difficult fight (for me), to be quite honest...I just think it’s a matter of being focused and on top of my game, and I think I’ll take care of him. I don’t think it’s difficult, though. He’s a decent fighter. We’re not going to make him out to be Ray Robinson.
"He has put together a good string of wins, and he’s tough and he’s coming to win. So that’s more important than anything. He has the ambition to win, so you can’t underestimate him."
Jeison Rosario (Via PBC Countdown: Julian Williams vs. Jeison Rosario):
"I really have been working for years towards this fight. All the training I have done since I began my pro career was a step towards this goal. I trained hard. I made sacrifices. I sacrificed my family. And it's all for this fight. God's timing is perfect and this is my time. The public sees it as an easy fight for Williams. When the bell rings, the public's jaws will drop...I'm going to win. Julian is a great champion. I thank him for the opportunity, but my job is to go in and take his titles from him. I have to do it and I will."
Williams is the more skilled fighter in this contest, but it’s probably not in his DNA to box his way to a safe decision, especially against someone like Rosario who’s there to be hit. Most likely, the defending champ will box just enough to position himself to land big counters against his aggressive young challenger.
Rosario is no mystery. He’ll be looking to come forward all night, pushing to land something big and willing to fail spectacularly for the chance to lay hands on the champ. He’s not the same fearsome fighter when backed up and that’s something likely to be used against him.
Williams will have to earn Rosario’s respect by hurting him early and then using that earned respect to stay a half-step ahead the rest of the night. It’s definitely within his ability to do just that and walk away with a decisive win, but it’ll take just one punch for Rosario to turn everything around—and that will make every moment of this homecoming bout a dangerous endeavor for the defending champ.
For a closer look at Williams vs Rosario, check out our fight night page.