The new unified World Super Welterweight Champion says there is no time to bask in the glory of his upset win over Jarrett Hurd—not when there is so much more to accomplish.
Nevertheless, “J-Rock” is still answering to his 4-year-old daughter, Zara, for missing her birthday while preparing with career-long trainer Stephen “Breadman” Edwards.
On March 22, Williams (27-1-1, 16 KOs) inspired youth at his alma mater, Overbrook High in his native Philadelphia. Formerly a homeless 13-year-old whose mother, June Williams, wrestled substance abuse, and, father, Khalif Dingle, was incarcerated, a tearful Williams referenced June’s passing (of congestive heart failure in 2013) during his post-fight interview.
Standing toe-to-toe, Williams dropped “Swift” Hurd (23-1, 16 KOs) of Accokeek, Maryland, with a second-round left hook temple shot and out-boxed him much of the bout.
It was Williams’ fifth straight win since losing to then-154-pound champion Jermall Charlo in December 2016.
Williams’ plan “to conquer the entire division” may include re-matching Hurd, if not, a unification with the winner of the rematch between WBC title-holder Tony Harrison and Jermall's twin brother, Jermell Charlo.
Can you describe your post-fight emotions and everything that’s transpired since?
No one’s ever seen me that emotional after a fight. Zara’s birthday was April 9, four days after my 29th birthday. They had her birthday party at her school, and she asked me leading up to it, “Daddy, are you coming to my party?”
I had planned on flying back for a few hours to Philly from the Bay Area where I was training to attend her party, but there was just too much on the line. She was a little upset, but I’ve since taken her out to Legoland [Theme Park in Philadelphia] and we had fun.
Talking about my Mom makes me emotional and it’s very difficult to get used to, and I want to be focused. Do I wish my mother was here so that she could enjoy the fruits of my labor? Of course, I do. But that can’t happen. It’s not in God’s plan. This is life. I’ve got to accept and live with it.
Have you celebrated your win?
I haven’t had a formal celebration, but right now I’m outside of some housing properties waiting for a realtor to show up. I’m about make a purchase.
I’m a simple guy who doesn’t drink or do a lot of partying. I’m already preparing for what’s next. I’ve spoken with [trainer] Stephen [Edwards], who says it’s time to get back into the gym.
How was your visit to your alma mater, Overbrook?
It was like a career day at Overbrook. I graduated in 2009. I related to all of them. I spoke about chasing your dreams and other things. It felt good to let them know their goals are attainable.
A lot of them watched the fight and were really into asking questions and taking pictures. I’m so glad that I came. The city’s gone crazy since I won this fight.
Has your victory sunk in?
I’ve watched the fight several times. I’m supremely satisfied and grateful to have accomplished this goal, but I don’t think I’ve fully grasped how big it is. The perfectionist in me feels I could have done more and have a lot to prove.
Now, I’ve got a target on my back and everybody wants a shot at the new champion. I’m still so hungry. There’s a lot more glory to gain and money to make, so I’m already working on the next four or five years. I plan to conquer the entire division, and I have the ability to do it.
I won’t name the guys, but there are 10 great fighters I’d like to face at 154 and as high as 160. If I win seven, I’ll be a Hall of Famer. If I win all 10, I’ll be an all-time great. That will generate, like $50 million, securing my place in history and financial stability for the rest of my life.
“ I plan to conquer the entire division, and I have the ability to do it. ” Unified World Super Welterweight Champion - Julian Williams
Were there any notable sparring partners for this fight and what weaknesses in Hurd did you work on exploiting?
Hurd is a big puncher, but I showed I’m also a big puncher. I was able to exploit from all ranges, inside and outside. I was in camp with Gennady Golovkin over the first four weeks he trained for the first Canelo Alvarez fight [September 2017].
I also got solid work sparring with an undefeated light heavyweight, Akeim Nurse from New Jersey, and some rounds in with Danny Jacobs, Kyrone Davis and [former welterweight champion] Mike Jones.
Golovkin’s probably the hardest puncher I’ve been in the ring with. He hit me with that shot but didn’t really hurt me. Triple-G has a way of punching down with the shot, and I was able to land it on Hurd. The left hook to the temple knocked off Hurd’s equilibrium and he went down.
How big was the knockdown?
That set the tone. Hurd recovers really fast and came out strong in the third, which is why I didn’t try to force a knockout and punch myself out. But after the third round, I dominated the first six, going to the body later on.
After the Charlo fight, I was supposed to have no chin. They made memes about me on Instagram and Twitter. They thought I’d get knocked out. But you never know how the judges are scoring.
So I continued to push, and I beat the No. 1 guy in the division in his backyard. If Hurd were any other fighter, he would have been wiped out after six rounds. I can’t imagine any scorecard with Hurd winning more than three rounds of that fight.
What happens in a rematch?
I can’t say how the fight would play out, knowing both of us will be a lot better. My accuracy is always important. I’m the most accurate puncher in boxing.
I got the best inside game in boxing. I know I’ll beat him again. I’ve been overlooked and laughed at for three years, and I’m hungry to defend my world title.
Your thoughts on fighting the winner of Harrison-Charlo II and the other champions at 154?
I’m so offensive-minded I’ve never been in a boring fight. I see myself as the best, and then Harrison who came back and won the title from Charlo after losing by knockout to Hurd.
You know how Julian Williams and Harrison bounced back from knockout losses, but you don’t know how Hurd or Charlo will come back from losses.
I had Harrison beating Charlo the first time. I think Harrison’s style is all wrong for Charlo, and I see Harrison out-boxing and beating Charlo again. Then I see me beating Harrison.
If my next fight is Castano, so be it. I’m definitely No. 1, so whoever wants the top spot, they’ve gotta go through me.
For a closer look at Julian Williams, check out his fighter page.
- Julian Williams