The scorecards might not have reflected how truly tough Julian Williams' unanimous decision win over former 154-pound champion Ishe Smith was Saturday night, but the top-ranked contender from Philadelphia had no trouble admitting he was in a dog fight on the center of the Las Vegas strip.
Philadelphia junior middleweight Julian Williams knew it wasn't going to be easy when facing former 154-pound titlist Ishe Smith on his home turf in Las Vegas.
It was anything but easy as Williams threw everything but the kitchen sink against Smith, who walked through his best shots and used his experience and top-level conditioning to make it a close fight. Ultimately, Williams (24-1-1, 15 KOs) prevailed via a tightly-contested ten-round decision. The scores didn't reflect how close of a fight it was, they read 99-91, 98-92, and 97-93 in favor of Williams.
Smith (29-9, 12 KOs) has never been known for being an action fighter, but Williams was able to bring it out of him. Williams forced Smith to exchange more than usual from the opening round onwards. Smith looked dedicated to targeting the body of Williams and did it with a lot of success beginning in the second round.
A headbutt in the second round caused a cut to open up near the left eye of Smith, and it immediately bothered him. Williams capitalized on the cut in the third round by opening up even more, landing some pretty heavy blows, including a straight right midway through the round that stopped Smith in his tracks.
"At first, it bothered me because I had never been cut in a fight," Smith said about the blood. "It bothered me a little bit but I was able to weather the storm."
The action continued to heat up as Williams tired a bit, the only stop in the action was when the two would clash heads and referee Russell Mora would halt things to examine both fighters.
Williams' aggressiveness is what cost him in a loss to Jermall Charlo for a 154-pound title a year ago. Against Smith, he didn't seem to tighten up his defense much, allowing Smith to answer back when Williams would open up.
Smith started timing Williams' jab with counter rights, which slowed Williams' attack a bit midway through the fight. There was a lot of back-and-forth but Williams seemed to get the better of it more often than not. Though all the rounds were pretty closely contested, the judges favored Williams' work and it earned him the nod.
"The win was pretty good, it was a great experience," Williams said of the bout. "Ishe Smith is a tough customer, there's a reason he's never been stopped. I thought I had him out of there a few times, but he's a tough, gritty veteran."
It was the 39-year-old Smith's first fight in over a year, and he gave a good effort. Smith is fighting mostly to provide for his children, who were left without a mother when Latoya Woolen was senselessly murdered in Las Vegas last March. Smith always gets himself in great shape and Saturday night was no different, forcing Williams to work hard for his win.
Williams should be back in the mix for a big fight at 154 pounds in 2018 — Jarrett Hurd, Erislandy Lara, and Jermell Charlo would all make for exciting fights with him. For Smith, he proved at nearly 40 that he can still give anyone a tough fight and he still has a great chin, having never been stopped before.
“ Ishe Smith is a tough customer, there's a reason he's never been stopped. I thought I had him out of there a few times, but he's a tough, gritty veteran. ” 154-pound contender Julian “J-Rock’’ Williams
Light Heavyweight Lionell Thompson hands prospect Earl Newman his first loss
In the co-main event, Lionell Thompson (19-4, 11 KOs) of Buffalo, NY dominated the 10-round light heavyweight bout putting pressure on previously undefeated prospect Earl Newman (10-1-1, KOs) of Brooklyn, NY. Thompson controlled the fight early and worked the left hand throughout the second round. He hit Newman with a hard upper cut midway through the third round causing Newman to fall back against the ropes causing Referee Robert Byrd to step in and give Newman a standing eight count, which was ruled a knockdown.
With a minute to go in the fourth round, Thompson knocked Newman to the canvas for the first time in the promising prospect’s career. Newman was slow to get up, but was able to continue.
Newman turned in his best round of the fight in the eighth as he caught Thompson with a counter right hand, landing more punches to Thompson’s head and body. In the 10th and final round, Newman stalked Thompson around the ring as he maintained his composure, finishing the fight much stronger than he started, but it wasn’t enough. The judges ruled the fight a unanimous decision in favor of Thompson with scores of 96-92 and 97-91 twice.
"This was my worst performance of my career,” Newman said. “It is the first time I’ve ever been knocked down—as a professional or an amateur. It happens in boxing. He was crafty. He kept moving around and that kind of threw my game plan off. I have to work on my jabs and defense going into my next fight."
Undefeated Featherweight Tugstsogt Nyambayar stays perfect
In the opening bout of the telecast, 2012 Olympic Silver medalist Tugstsogt Nyambayar (9-0, 8 KOs), hailing from Mongolia, earned a hard-fought unanimous decision against previously unbeaten Harmonito Dela Torre (19-1, 12 KOs) of Miami.
The bout started out with Nyambayar throwing and landing solid punches, but he got caught with a hard hook in the second, sending him to the canvas. He was able to overcome the knockdown, and a couple of strong punches opened a cut over Dela Torre’s right eye in the fifth round. Nyambayar continued to land precise, hard punches to the head and body throughout the rest of the fight. In the end, the judges scored it 79-73 and 78-73 twice, all for Nyambayar.
“This fight was a great fight for me. it was the experience I needed,” Nyambayar said. “I was tested after an eight-month layoff. I moved up two weight classes for this fight. He’s much bigger than me. He kept me on my toes and it’s what I need to be a better fighter. He caught me off balance with that knock down, but as you can see that kicked me into gear and I dominated.”
For a complete look at Smith vs Williams, visit our fight page