Jermall Charlo and Julian Williams aren’t exactly best friends, so it’s no surprise they don’t agree on very much. However, there is one opinion that the unbeaten 26-year-olds do share: Their 154-pound title clash is going to be the toughest fight of their respective careers—and it’s going to be an epic brawl.
In a matchup fight fans have been longing to see, Jermall Charlo (24-0, 18 KOs) will make the third defense of his world championship against top-ranked contender Julian Williams (22-0-1, 14 KOs) at USC’s Galen Center in Los Angeles (Showtime, 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT).
With each man possessing immense physical and mental talent—not to mention a healthy disdain for one another—Charlo and Williams are convinced that their showdown will more than live up to the hype.
“This is a Roy Jones [versus] Bernard Hopkins type of fight,” says Charlo, who weighed in Friday at 153.4 pounds, while Williams hit the scale at 154. “We’re going to get down and dirty.
“We’re both on the way up to the top level. He’s as hungry as me. I’m not necessarily worried about any of the things he said about being hungry to be fighting me. He’s my toughest opponent, and I’m ready for it.”
Williams counters with a similar mixture of respect and self-assurance.
“Whenever you’ve got a 50-50 fight, two guys 26 years old in the prime of their careers, it’s going to be a test for both fighters,” says the lifelong Philadelphia resident who will be pursuing his fourth consecutive knockout. “Jermall’s a good fighter. He’s strong and fast, but this is definitely the first step in building my legacy.
“I'm confident in what I can do. I want to be the junior middleweight champion of the world.”
So why exactly has the boxing community been eagerly awaiting a Charlo-Williams fight? Because it’s a very rare evenly-matched clash of equally skilled sluggers who to this point have blown through their competition.
“ This is a Roy Jones [vs] Bernard Hopkins type of fight. We’re going to get down and dirty. ” Jermall Charlo
Let’s start with the champion. A versatile fighter from Houston who posseses equal power in both hands, Charlo has stopped 75 percent of his opponents. As for the six fighters who made it the distance against the “Hitman,” all fell by wide unanimous decision.
In 17 fights from December 2008 until November 2015, Charlo recorded 16 stoppage victories and a shutout unanimous decision. That includes a four-knockdown destruction of Cornelius Bundrage in September 2015 to claim his first world title.
In his most recent fight, Charlo survived his toughest test to date, outlasting former 154-pound world champion Austin Trout by unanimous decision.
Like Charlo, all of Williams’ victories have come by stoppage or unanimous decision. Since a six-round draw against Francisco Santana in May 2011, “J Rock” has ripped off 16 consecutive wins. More incredibly, he hasn’t so much as dropped a round in his last nine contests spanning 54 rounds.
Williams has looked especially sharp in his last two bouts. First, in September 2015, he needed all of 93 seconds to obliterate Luciano Cuello, a veteran Argentine fighter who went the distance with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and lasted six rounds with Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.
Then in March, Williams picked apart Italy’s Marcello Matano in a title-eliminator bout, scoring a seventh-round TKO.
Partly because of his complete dominance, Williams has struggled recently to find willing opponents. Some even wondered if Charlo was looking for ways to avoid making his mandatory defense against Williams, especially when their fight initially slated for October was postponed.
It turned out, however, that Charlo sought and was granted a 60-day medical exemption to recover from vision-correction surgery. Charlo claimed he fought his entire career with blurred vision, but says he’s now seeing better than ever.
Such news, believe it or not, pleases Williams as much as it does Charlo.
“He’s got 20-20 vision [now]. I’ve had 20-20 vision my whole life,” he says. “Now we’re even.”
Actually, they’re pretty even in a lot of ways. Aside from being undefeated, 26-year-old, 154-pound boxer-punchers, they’re also similar in stature. Often much taller and longer than his opponents, the 6-foot Charlo will have just a one-inch height and reach (73½-72½) advantage over the 5-foot-11 Williams.
Suffice it to say, the champ believes those slight edges will be more than enough for him to retain his title and hand Williams his first defeat.
“I hear Julian talk about how he’s 100 percent ready, and he’s 100 percent sure he’s going to win this fight, but I’ve heard that before,” he says. “He’s a good, old-school fighter, but I’m a champion for a reason. And I’m staying a champion.”
For full coverage of Charlo vs Williams, bounce over to our fight page.