While the 154-pound contender from Philly is willing to fight anyone, anywhere—his trainer Stephen Edwards wants to see "J-Rock" put together one more complete fight against another top contender or former champion before he takes another title tilt.
Julian Williams’ trainer, Stephen Edwards, has compiled a list of future opponents now that Williams has gotten past former champion Ishe Smith. At the top of the list are 154-pound world title contenders Maciej Sulecki, Tony Harrison, Nathaniel Gallimore, former champion Austin Trout and Liam Smith.
“We’ll get another title shot,” Edwards said, “but I’d like another fight first.”
"J-Rock" Williams (24-1-1, 15 KOs) grinded out a unanimous decision over 39-year-old former champion Ishe Smith (29-8, 12 KOs) in Smith’s hometown of Las Vegas at The Cosmopolitan on November 18.
"Julian went into the lions' den and won a hard fight against Ishe's (partisan) crowd, but he traded punches, making it look closer than it was,” said Edwards. "Julian could have won by complete shutout or late-round knockout with a more disciplined jab and speed.”
Prior to his loss to Jermall Charlo, Williams, of Philadelphia, had scored three straight knockouts, won 53 consecutive rounds and 16 fights in a row (10 by stoppage) since a six-round draw against Francisco Santana in May 2011.
“Using my jab and movement, Ishe couldn’t touch me,” said Williams, 27. “But I tried too hard to punish and force a knockout.”
“Disappointed” in Williams’ performance against Smith, Edwards wants him to “display the difference between a good and great fighter against someone better than Ishe.”
“It was a hard-fought fight, not controversial, and Julian won, but he’s better than that,” Edwards said. “I want Julian sticking to a game plan, mentally focusing on his gifts, showing strength, speed, coordination and power in both hands. I’m confident we’ll earn another title shot.”
“ I want Julian sticking to a game plan, mentally focusing on his gifts, showing strength, speed, coordination and power in both hands. I’m confident we’ll earn another title shot. ” Stephen Edwards, trainer for Julian Williams
The list of opponents could pose a much tougher test than Smith, but will certainly prove whether Williams is indeed ready for another shot at a world championship.
Coming off last month’s unanimous decision over Jack Culcay, the 28-year-old Sulecki of Poland, had stopped seven straight, including previously unbeaten Hugo Centeno in the 10th round in June 2016.
Harrison earned a unanimous decision over Paul Valenzuela last month, but has suffered ninth-round TKO losses to Willie Nelson (July 2015) and Jarrett Hurd in a a 154-pound world title clash.
The 29-year-old Gallimore of Evanston, Illinois, has stopped his past seven opponents since falling by split-decision to Virgilijus Stapulionis, most notably Justin DeLoach in the fifth round in July.
Trout’s definitive achievement is a unanimous decision over Puerto Rican four-division champion Miguel Cotto in December 2012, improving to 26-0 with his fourth and final defense of a title he captured in February 2011.
Trout then lost consecutive championship bouts by unanimous decision in April and December 2013 to Canelo Alvarez in a title unification and southpaw Erislandy Lara.
Trout, 32, won four straight, three by stoppage, before losing consecutive championship fights to unbeaten fighters Charlo (May 2016) by unanimous decision and Hurd by 10th-round stoppage last month.
Smith is 3-0 with one knockout since being stopped by Canelo Alvarez in the ninth round in September 2016.
Lara, Hurd, Cotto and Jermell Charlo are division champions targeted by Williams, who believes his perceived vulnerability could entice previously reluctant opponents.
“Before this, it was like, ‘He’s too hot right now, wait until we see a chink in his armor,’” Williams said. “Just sign the contract, I’ll fight anybody.”
For a complete recap of Smith vs Williams, visit our fight page.
- Julian Williams