Julian Williams was businesslike in his dismantling of Marcello Matano on Saturday night, but things got more personal after the Philadelphia native earned his first shot at a world title.
Williams (22-0-1, 14 KOs) scored a seventh-round technical knockout of Matano (16-2, 5 KOs) at the Sands Bethlehem Event Center in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, to put himself in position to challenge unbeaten 154-pound champion Jermall Charlo for his title.
While reserved leading up to Saturday’s bout and then showing patience in the ring as he broke down his Italian opponent, the 25-year-old Williams released some emotion as he called out his potential next opponent in the post-fight interview.
“Either fight me or vacate, Jermall,” Williams said. “It’s a big fight; the fans want to see it. It’s two of the best junior middleweights in the world and we’re both in the prime of our careers. Step up. It’s about legacy, it’s about money, it’s about greatness. I don’t care about being a star; I want to be a great fighter and a Hall of Famer.”
Matano began to push the action more in Round 3, but the increased volume only seemed to play into the hands of the 5-foot-11 Williams, who continually landed the harder shots against the 5-foot-8 Italian, who was fighting outside of his home country for the first time.
“I kind of expected him to come forward, but he came out moving,” Williams said. “I knew he couldn’t win the fight running away, so I just had to be patient and stick to the game plan against a guy who fought a disciplined, scrappy fight for a guy who has limited ability.
“I knew he couldn’t outbox me going backward because he’s too short and too small. I said I’m going to use my jab until he started coming forward, and that’s when I started landing the counter left hook. I knew I would hurt him at some point if I stayed focused, worked the body and kept throwing it.”
In the seventh, Williams staggered Matano with a left hand and then followed up with a flurry of punches as the Italian tried to hang on. “J-Rock” quickly resumed his assault on his jelly-legged opponent, who refused to go down, causing referee Gary Rosato to jump in and stop the bout at 2:24 of the round.
“I was hearing from everybody that I should be able to knock him out and that it shouldn’t take more than two rounds,” Williams said. “But the plan was to go 12 hard rounds and win every round if I had to, and not necessarily to go for the knockout.
“I couldn’t think about that because obviously this guy has been training for two months for this fight, and he wasn’t going to come halfway around the world to lay down just because he’s fighting me near my hometown. I knew he would fight hard and come out with some kind of a game plan.”
For a complete look at Williams vs Matano, visit our fight page.
Tony Harrison overpowers Fernando Guerrero to gain sixth-round TKO
Harrison (23-1, 19 KOs) dropped Guerrero (28-4, 20 KOs) in the corner in the second round with a barrage of punches, and continued to land power shots in the third.
Guerrero began to assert himself in the fourth round, and the southpaw blasted Harrison with a right hand during an exchange in the fifth.
In the sixth, Harrison landed a punishing left that dropped Guerrero, who tried to continue on shaky legs. Harrison quickly finished the job with a right hand amid a series of blows that prompted referee Gary Rosato to stop the fight at the 1:54 mark.
“I had a lot of animosity coming into this fight because people said that I couldn’t take a shot, but Guerrero hit me with an amazing shot, that straight right hand,” Harrison said. “I took it and I came back with my own. That discouraged him.”
Avtandil Khurtsidze upsets Antoine Douglas via 10th-round stoppage
Late replacement Avtandil Khurtsidze outworked 160-pound prospect Antoine Douglas in a slugfest and gained a 10th-round stoppage.
Taking the fight on short notice in place of an injured Sam Soliman, Khurtsidze (32-2-2, 21 KOs) knocked Douglas (19-1-1, 13 KOs) through the ropes in the third round with a left hook. Douglas managed to regroup, however, and stormed back into the fight over the next two frames.
Khurtsidze, a 5-foot-4 pressure fighter from Georgia, again put Douglas on the canvas with a left hook in the seventh round and remained in control until referee Benjy Esteves Jr. stopped the fight 33 seconds into the 10th with Khurtsidze punishing his taller opponent against the ropes.
Khurtsidze, 36, won for the ninth straight time since dropping a controversial unanimous decision to Hassan N’Dam in October 2010.