Julian Williams was frighteningly good in his last fight—so good that it appears “J-Rock’s” rivals in the 154-pound division are scattering like roaches when the lights are turned on.
“I’m not going to say [potential opponents are] scared of him,” says Stephen Edwards, who trains Williams at the Philadelphia-based James Shuler Boxing Gym. “But nobody’s fighting Julian. The common thread I hear is that Julian’s high-risk, low-reward.”
Such a refrain is understandable, given what Julian Williams did in his last fight on September 22. That night, the 25-year-old Philadelphia native needed all of 93 seconds to obliterate usually granite-chinned Luciano Cuello.
Williams’ fight-ending flurry was a thing of boxing beauty. It began with a left uppercut followed by a right to Cuello’s temple, a shot that caused Cuello to spin and stagger into the ropes, his jelly legs resembling those of a guy stumbling out of a tavern at 2 a.m. after losing a whiskey drinking competition.
With Cuello's back against the ropes, Williams unleashed seven straight crunching rights to the jaw before referee Gary Rosato stepped in and stopped the beatdown.
With that, Williams (21-0-1, 13 KOs) had his 15th consecutive victory (nine by way of knockout) since his six-round draw against Francisco Santana in May 2011.
“I knew I was that much better than him and wanted to make a statement, ” Williams says. “I didn’t go in with a knockout on my mind. I just wanted to beat him up and not lose a second of any round.”
Nothing to worry about there. In fact, perhaps more impressive than Williams’ 15-fight winning streak is that he’s won 50 consecutive rounds. And lest anyone think Cuello was a tomato can, consider this:
The 31-year-old Argentine had won three straight fights and nine of his previous 10, the only loss being a narrow unanimous decision to 154-pound contender Willie Nelson in June 2013—a fight in which both men bled from cuts over their right eyes.
Cuello’s other losses were by unanimous decision to Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in March 2009 and sixth-round TKO to Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in July 2010. (In other words, Alvarez—regarded as one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the sport—needed six rounds to do to Cuello what Williams did in 93 seconds.)
“Cuello took Chavez Jr. to the brink before getting knocked out by Canelo, and rumbled tooth and nail with Willie Nelson,” Williams says. “Some people thought he beat Chavez and Nelson. I certainly did."
“ I’m not worried about the guys running from me; I’m worried about guys who sign contracts. ” Undefeated 154-pound contender Julian Williams
Williams has been dubbed “one of the top prospects in the sport” by no less an authority than legendary Philly trainer Naazim Richardson, the longtime cornerman for Bernard Hopkins. But since Williams’ destruction of Cuello, he’s become the 154-pound division's Gennady Glolovkin—that is, he’s like the boogeyman.
Case in point: Nearly four months have passed since Williams made quick work of Cuello, and he’s still awaiting word on his next opponent.
Does he have a preference?
“I’m not worried about the guys running from me; I’m worried about guys who sign contracts. I’ll fight until I force a mandatory [title] shot or until someone vacates the title."
Trout, a 30-year-old southpaw and former 154-pound world titleholder, served as a ringside analyst for Fox Sports during the Williams-Cuello fight. Two weeks prior, Trout scored a sixth-round knockout of Joey Hernandez, after which he called out Williams.
From there, Trout (30-2, 17 KOs) and Williams engaged in a social-media spat centered around Hernandez, who lost a 10-round unanimous decision to Williams five months before falling to Trout.
“Austin Trout got on the mic [after beating Hernandez] and told Julian, ‘I showed you how to do it,’ so [a potential] fight was being built up,” Edwards says. “They were jawing back and forth, and I was told later they’d be fighting possibly in December, with the winner getting a title shot. But everything changed with Julian’s performance."
“After beating Cuello, it looked like Trout was going to happen, but I guess he has other plans,” he says. “It’s a shame. So many top guys in this division, but I can’t get my hands on any one of them.
“Certain fighters seem to be dancing around me, but the fans seem more frustrated than I am. One fan told me, ‘You need to get your flu shot because all of the fighters are avoiding you.’”
- Julian Williams