“Swift” disappoints hometown fans by taking his first ‘L’ as a professional.
To be the champ, you have to beat the champ.
On Saturday, Philadelphia boxer Julian “J-Rock” Williams proved that adage to be true and gained three pieces of jewelry for his trouble.
Williams knew he was walking into the lion’s den when he traveled from Philadelphia to Virginia. Facing undefeated unified super welterweight champion “Swift” Jarrett Hurd in his backyard was a risk, to say the least.
However, Williams (27-1-1, 16 KOs) wasn’t afraid. In fact, before the fight, he was sitting casually in press row watching fights readying himself for the enormity of the situation.
“This is a dream come true,” said Williams post-fight. “I have been waiting for this for years. I never ditched the gym. I never got into girls or left the gym. I am from the streets, but I was never in the streets. I was in the gym practicing my craft.
“The only people that believed in me were my team, but all I can say is ‘and the new’!”
His strategy was simple: keep it close, pick him apart with close quarter hooks from both hands and sneaky uppercuts. The strategy worked as Hurd was lured into a phone booth fight for the majority of the fight which allowed him to conquer Hurd (23-1, 16 KOs).
Williams scored a 12-round unanimous decision, handing Hurd his first loss. With it came the spoils: the IBF, WBA, and IBO championships before Hurd’s hometown crowd at the EagleBank Arena.
Never 2 Late
Fellow Philadelphia fighter, Tevin Farmer has championed the slogan after defeating the odds to become the IBF super featherweight world champion. For Julian Williams, this has never been more accurate.
Williams had come up short in his previous attempt at a world title when he was stopped on via TKO by Jermall Charlo in 2016. He was overwhelmed by emotions after his upset victory over Hurd, who was a presumptive favorite over the 29-year-old Williams.
“I am just overwhelmed. This is such a great feeling. I outclassed him. I am one of the best fighters in the world,” said Williams. “Maybe I wasn’t ready for the title the first time I got the shot. I took the loss. I took it like a man and the whole world doubted me. I went into this fight a five to one underdog.’’
Hurd is a notoriously slow starter with minimal defense often taking the brunt of heavy shots. Williams made him pay for that. He jumped on the defending champion right out of the gate, throwing crisp punches behind a piston-like jab. Williams dropped Hurd in the second round with a shot to the temple.
“It didn’t really change my strategy. It was just a flash knockdown. It caught me by surprise. I wasn’t really hurt,’’ Hurd said.
Sensing he had stunned Hurd, Williams came out firing in the next round. He picked up the pace and Hurd decided to match the ferocity of the attack rather than wither under it. Midway through the third round, Hurd landed a blistering left uppercut that snapped Williams’ head upward and slowly started to regain his form.
Hurd and Williams went to the trenches in the middle rounds, closing the distance and fighting in tight quarters. Conventional wisdom would seem to favor Hurd in that space because he is physically bigger than Williams. But Williams did more than hold his own.
By the seventh round, the fight had become a war of attrition and a test of wills. Hurd was cut over his left eye in the eighth round. By then, Williams was completely in control.
Williams said he was well prepared for everything that Hurd threw at him, but it was by no means a cakewalk.
“He wasn’t easier to hit than I thought. He was crafty and he had heavy hands. I just stayed poised. I listened to my coach and I just worked,’’ Williams said. “He couldn’t hurt me. I saw everything he was throwing. I knocked him down. The game plan was to win however I could. I adapted on the fly. We knew he had certain tendencies and worked on his tendencies. ‘’
With Williams not against a rematch in his native Philadelphia, Hurd can only get stronger after facing defeat. However, the super welterweight division is on notice that Julian Williams is here and ready after defeating the champion.