Heavy underdog Rosario spoils Williams' Philadelphia homecoming to claim the WBA and IBF World Super Welterweight titles Saturday night on FOX.
Julian Williams changed faces with each step he took up Section 109 at Temple University’s Liacouras Center. One stride, the Philadelphia super welterweight champion wore a fight-mode glare that could break cinderblock. The next stair, the sneer was gone, replaced by a beaming smile while glad-handing well-wishers he had not seen ringside in years.
Mingling and taking pictures was highly unusual for the stoic Williams, who usually bunkers down before a fight in his dressing room.
It was the dichotomy of his evening.
Meanwhile, Jeison Rosario was hunkered down. The 24-year-old from the Dominican Republic wore a narrow focus and vowed he would shock the world Saturday night.
Then, he did just that.
Rosario pulled off the first major upset of 2020, stopping Williams at 1:37 of the fifth round to capture the WBA and IBF World Super Welterweight titles.
Up on two scorecards 39-37 at the time of the stoppage, Rosario (20-1-1, 14 KOs) finished Williams (27-2-1, 16 KOs) by outlanding him 17-6 in Round 5 and 35-24 overall in power punches.
“I’m so emotional in this moment right now,” Rosario said. “When I lost my last fight, I said I will never lose again until I become champion of the world and that’s what happened tonight. I came prepared. I knew before the fight that I was going to win it.
“I didn’t see my family and all I did was train. The main motivation are my children.”
At the outset, Rosario showed no fear of Williams, who worked well behind his jab, though Rosario did drop a left to Williams’ body in the last minute of the first.
“As soon as I stepped into the ring, I knew he could not hurt me,” Rosario said. “I knew that my power was affecting him right away. This is a big victory for me and for the whole Dominican Republic.
“I have to give a lot of credit to my team. I had a 16-week training camp and that prepared me for this. My life is changed forever and I can support my family in a whole new way.”
Williams pushed the same strategy in the second, snapping off the jab again, and plowing a right off of Rosario’s ribs. But Rosario caused a huge welt to form under Williams’ left eye and then a cut on Williams’ left eyelid that leaked into his eye.
Sensing Rosario would be eye-hunting, Williams held his guard up high in the third. He slammed a right uppercut into Rosario, and about a minute later, landed a cross that forced the 24-year-old from the Dominican Republic acknowledged with a nod.
Rosario began poking Williams with the jab in the fourth. Rosario also landed a counter right off a missed Williams’ uppercut. Rosario then followed a theme with a left to the body, and you began to wonder whether or not Williams could continue to take the body shots.
After four, it was very possible to see the fight 2-2.
In the opening minute of the fifth, Williams came forward and backed Rosario into the ropes. But Rosario unfurled a left hook that buckled the legs of “J-Rock.” That started it.
Sensing Williams was in trouble, Rosario pursued Williams, who was shaky. Williams stumbled, but referee Benjy Esteves generously called it a slip, giving Williams some time to recover.
It didn’t help.
Rosario continued his assault, landing a right and then a left hook, forcing Esteves to wisely step in and stop it at 1:37 of the fifth round.
“I wasn’t surprised he was so good,” Williams said. “I told everybody he’s a real fighter. I have to accept it. The cut blurred my vision a little bit but it wasn’t the reason why I lost. He was the better fighter tonight. We’ve got a rematch clause. I’ll see him again soon. I’ll be back.”
The partisan Philadelphia crowd wasn't ready to accept the verdict—which was a quality stoppage. Water bottles and debris rained down on the canvas minutes after the fight was halted.
“Rosario was the better man tonight,” Williams said. “It was a great homecoming for my fans and I'm sorry I let them down. What went wrong tonight needs to and will be fixed. We're going to an immediate rematch and we look forward to returning the favor.”
Chris “Prime Time” Colbert decisions Jezreel Corrales to win title
In the co-feature, Chris “Prime Time” Colbert (14-0, 5 KOs) outlasted southpaw Jezreel Corrales (23-4, 9 KOs) to take the interim WBA world super featherweight title with a 12-round unanimous decision.
Judges Steve Weisfeld and Dewey LaRosa saw it 117-110, and David Braslow had it 116-111—all for Colbert.
“He was a great fighter,” Colbert said of Corrales. “People don’t realize that, because he had a bad decision against Ladarius Miller. But he’s a great fighter. He’s very awkward. He’s slick and fast. It was hard to catch him because he was running, but he came to fight. I take my hat off to him.
“I had confidence coming into the fight. I knew I was going to dominate the fight and I told you all that before the fight happened. He was running and I was trying to catch him, so I told my corner, let's have a dog fight. We got 12 rounds. I’m in shape. You see, I didn’t sit down one round. I’m in shape and I came to fight. I wasn’t going to leave without this title.
“I’m not ducking nobody and not dodging nobody. I’m here to fight and I’m here to stay.”
The fight was devoid of any serious exchanges until the 10th, when everything broke loose. Colbert, who had been landing the more effective punches, popped a left hook, followed by a right on top of the head to down Corrales.
“The strategy was to use my jab like I did and try to set up my punches,” Colbert said. “But he's very awkward and has good distance. Slowly but surely I decided to stop boxing, close the distance and get on him. I knew he couldn't out throw me, I'm from Brooklyn.”
If Corrales didn’t know he was trouble, he found out then. Perhaps it was fatigue taking over, but the dancing and feints of the previous nine rounds ended. The pair closed the distance and each found their punching range.
By then, however, Corrales needed a knockout to win. It wasn’t meant to be. Colbert goes from prospect to contender to champion in the span of one year, kicking off what is expected to be a huge 2020 for him.
Joey Spencer defeats Erik Spring
Super welterweight prospect Joey Spencer (10-0, 7 KOs) took the patient approach and won a mundane six-round decision over skinny southpaw Erik Spring (13-3-2, 1 KO). The most action in the fight came in the final five seconds, when Spencer rocked Spring with a left to the chin, knocking Spring back to the ropes.
It was academic for judges Julie Lederman, Kevin Morgan and Marc Wilensky, who all scored it 60-54 for Spencer. Spring landed 18 punches over six rounds.
“I was in there with a cagey, long southpaw,” Spencer said. “And to be honest, when a guy is fighting as cagey as he was, it’s really hard for a guy with my style to just pull something out of nothing. He was a real defensive guy.
“I’m glad to get the six rounds in. Experience is everything. You’re only as good as your next fight. I’m happy to get in there and get some good experience and I did my thing and got the shutout.”
On the FS1 portion of the card, junior middleweight southpaw Jorge Cota (30-4, 27 KOs) took apart lanky, local Thomas LaManna (28-3-1, 10 KOs) in of a scheduled 10-rounder. From the opening bell, Cota waded into the light-punching LaManna with uppercuts. By the third round, a small cut had opened over LaManna’s right eye.
LaManna showed great courage, though was taking a thorough beating. Finally, at 1:22 of the fifth round, LaManna’s corner wisely ended it.
“This was a great experience against a guy who really didn’t want to fight,” Mielnicki said. “He was on a bicycle. I have to work on little things, like cutting off the ring. I think I learned to keep my composure against a guy who didn’t want to fight.
“If it was a longer fight than four rounds, I would have gotten him out of there. My amateur background helps against a guy like that. It comes with the game. I’m happy with what happened.”
The undercard results: Bantamweight Miguel Angel Román, Jr. made his pro debut with a four-round decision over Antonio Lucaine (0-3). Heavyweight Norman Neely (5-0, 5 KOs) stopped Larry Knight (4-23-1, 1 KO) at 1:21 in the first round of a scheduled four-rounder.
Philadelphia super welterweight Paul Kroll (7-0, 6 KOs) scored a fourth-round TKO at :49 over Marcel Rivers (7-3, 4 KOs) in a scheduled eight-rounder. Middleweight Kyrone Davis (15-2, 6 KOs) stopped Antonio Todd (7-3, 4 KOs) at 2:28 of the fourth in a scheduled eight-rounder.