Julian "J Rock" Williams: Philly's Future World Junior Middleweight Champion?
Julian "J Rock" Williams: Philly's Future World Junior Middleweight Champion?
By Ken Hissner, Doghouse Boxing (Dec 17, 2012) Doghouse Boxing
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Bryant “By By” Jennings
Julian "J Rock" Williams (CTR) - Breadman (L) - Rodriguez (R)
The city of Philadelphia is known for its middleweights and sometimes forgets the junior middleweights who were champions and contenders. IBF champions Rob “Bam Bam” Hines and Buster Drayton are two that come to mind immediately. Stanley “Kitten” Hayward and Earl “The Pearl” Hargrove got to the championship fight but didn’t take the title. Derrick “Pooh” Ennis became US champion and defeated now top IBF contender “King” Gabriel Rosado for the PA title who will be fighting for the WBA middleweight title in January.

A young Philadelphia fighter on the rise is Julian “J Rock” Williams, 10-0-1 (5), who trains at the James Shuler Gym in West Philadelphia where Hines serves as one of the gyms trainers. Williams recently had his eleventh fight in Atlantic City and his second 8 rounder on an HBO show. His trainer and manager Stephen “Breadman” Edwards also manages welterweight Steve Upsher Chambers, 24-2-1 (6). “I had a relationship with them (Kenny Mason and Julian Williams) 3 years prior to him turning pro. I officially started working with him in July of 2010. They came to me prior to his debut to help get fights.

Williams started boxing at the age of 12 under trainer Kenny Mason until June of 2012 and had a standout amateur career winning the 2005 Silver Gloves Regionals, 2006 Junior Olympic Regionals, 2007 Eastern 2006 and 2009 Regionals. In 2006 he earned a bronze at the National GG, the Silver Gloves Nationals and GG State tournament. This writer would see him in the Eastern GG in 2009 and he would show killer determination to take out each and every opponent. He won the PA state title that year. He finished with a 77-10 record.

Williams would turn professional in May of 2010 at the South Philly Arena and score 3 consecutive first round knockouts at the start of his career before winning a 6 rounder in December. He followed this with another first round knockout on undercard of Tim Bradley-Devon Alexander WBC/WBO light welter title bout.

In October of 2010 Williams signed a contract with Gary Shaw Promotions which was terminated by mutual agreement in September of 2012. He would be on the road for 7 consecutive fights winning all but a draw with Francisco “Chia” Santana, 12-2, in May of 2011 over 6 rounds at Santana’s nearby backyard in Santa Ynez, CA. Prior to that fight he defeated a veteran of 72 fights in Marteze “Too Sweet” Logan.

In September of 2011 Williams would return to his hometown at the National Guard Armory in the NE part of Philadelphia. His opponent was Ecuador’s Erberto Medina, 5-6-1, who was coming off a draw with Philly’s Jamaal Davis (whom also trains at Shulers Gym) over 6 rounds. Williams won 5 out of 6 rounds. In Medina’s next fight he defeated previously unbeaten Polish boxer Przemyslaw Opalach who was 9-0 at the time.

In 2012 Williams has had a pair of 8 rounder’s at Boardwalk Hall, in Atlantic City, NJ, defeating PR’s Hector Rosario, 7-1-2, in April halting Rosario’s 7 fights without a loss (including 2 draws). This was on undercard of Bernard Hopkins and Chad Dawson’s WBC light heavy title bout rematch. Then he stopped PR’s Jonel Tapia, 8-2-1, in the seventh round of a scheduled 8. In this bout Williams showed a good body attack halfway through before going to the body and head causing the stoppage. PR’s Tapia had only lost to a pair of top PR prospects in Eddie Gomez and Giovanni Rodriguez. “I had hoped to stop him earlier but he took a good punch,” said Williams. In this fight he showed the complete package with pin point precision. This was on undercard of Adrien Broner and Antonio DeMarco’s WBC lightweight title match.

Williams just turned 22 in April and is always in the gym. His sparring sessions with welterweight contender Mike “MJ” Jones brought back memories of those “Philly Gym Wars”. He also had heated sessions with former top Philly lightweight contender Hank Lundy. There is never a shortage of fighters to spar in Philly. “There was little difference between the two of them (Jones) in those sessions. I’m surprised he hasn’t had more knockouts as a pro,” said Jim Williams (co-mgr of Jones).

Others Williams has sparred with are top IBF light middle contender “King” Gabe Rosado (heated), Lajuan Simon, Jamaal “The Truth” Davis, Demitrius Hopkins, Latif Mundy, and unbeaten prospects Tommy Lamanna, Ismael Garcia, Anthony “Juice” Young, Greg Jackson and Terrell James. “Julian is a very good fighter. In 3 years if brought along properly he will be fighting for a title,” said Billy Briscoe (Rosado’s trainer).

“Williams is scheduled to go again in either January 11th or 19th,” said Edwards. In stopping at Shulers Gym I was able to talk to the former IBF light middle champ Rob “Bam Bam” Hines who knows what it takes to win the light middle title. “He’s a good fighter and will be champ, too,” said Hines. That was right from the mouth of one of Shuler’s top trainers.

“Give him a duck and you won’t see anything but feathers”, said Buster Custus. That was from Shuler’s Gym owner and head trainer with some words of wisdom. He added, “I look for him to be one of Shuler’s world champions. If you don’t belong in the ring with him he’ll have you out of there in a minute. He’s all business in the ring.”

“He’s a very strong fighter. His skill level is high. He can box, punch and fight. I look to seeing him hold a world title in about 3 years,” said Sharron Baker. She is the top woman trainer in Philly who handles Jamal Davis.

“Julian is a good young fighter who caught my eye when he was in the amateurs. I am really enjoying watching him grow and continue to challenge himself, I believe Willams is the whole package,” said Bam Rogers. She is the youngest female promoter and matchmaker in the country. She assists J Russell Peltz of Peltz Boxing. Even at a young age this recent Temple University graduate has an eye for talent.

With the determination Williams shows in the gym and in his bouts he is destined to be a future champion. He has the tools and a good trainer/manager who has picked his fights properly and bringing him along at a pace to be ready when the time comes to step into the ring in a championship fight. He’s in no hurry unlike so many Philly fighters who get pushed into a big fight too early. This will work to his advantage. The question isn’t “will ‘J Rock’ Julian Williams be a future world junior middleweight champion but when?”

Edwards and Williams agreed to answer some questions for Doghouse Boxing:

DHB: Julian at the pace you are going in your career how would you evaluate your progress so far?

JULIAN WILLIAMS: The pace I’m going is fine. In 2012 it slowed down because of behind the scenes issues. I only fought twice but I always stayed in the gym. My trainer and I are always going over different strategies and solutions to problems, so I still progressed during my lay-off. Next year I was told I will fight 6 to 10 times if I stay healthy so that will put me where I need to be.

DHB: Does it bother you when your many fans ask why you don’t fight in Philly much (3 out of 11 fights) or with your last 2 fights being in nearby Atlantic City seem to be a better alternative?

JULIAN WILLIAMS: A little bit but I also enjoy fighting on the road. I like to keep a good mix. I’m learning about the business and I know things won’t alwas be exactly how I want it. I just hope my fans miss me enough when I do fight at home to come out and show love.

DHB: Breadman, you have moved Julian around the country getting good exposure and on some major cards. Is that the plan to ready him when the time comes for a title fight?

BREADMAN: I definitely push to get him on BIG cards. He has fought on 3 HBO World Championship undercards and 4 ShoBox undercards. I like for him to get the exposure. I also know the budgets on those cards are higher. So we get to choose from a better choice of opponents.

DHB: Julian, when you see Gabe Rosado getting his first crack at a world title after 7 years can you see the advantage of not being in too big of a hurry?

JULIAN WILLIAMS: This is definitely a marathon and not a sprint. But everybody’s situation is different. Gabby is a beast but he was learning on the job. He didn’t have the amateur fights I had. I’m 22 but I was 77-10 as an amateur. So I think in a couple of more years I will be ready. But I really want to just keep improving. If I keep improving than my time will come. As a team me and Steve figure I will be ready by the time I am 24 or 25. Every goal we have set so far has been reached so I don’t see why I won’t be fighting for a title within the next 3 years. I personally want to fight my biggest fights when I am in my physical prime.

DHB: Do the two of you feel the “Philly gym wars” are beneficial or do they shorten a boxer’s career?

JULIAN: I don’t concern myself with that. Steve gets me the proper work I need to get ready for a fight. I like for the sparring to simulate the real fight. So that’s why I spar the best guys like Gabby (Rosado) and Demitrius (Hopkins).

BREADMAN: We don’t overdo it in the gym but his sparring is intense unless he is sparring a really green fighter. Sometimes other trainers get upset when we can’t work, but we have a set plan for us. We start at 4 rounds and we work progressively toward our peak out. We also do lots of other things between sparring to simulate a fight. I’m conscious of over sparring and using sparring to get into shape, so we never do that. Julian has fast twitch muscles so he doesn’t need to spar 10 rounds a day to get ready. He actually peaks at about 35 rounds so we never over do it. I definitely have seen fighters get ruined in the gym but Julian Williams won’t be one of them.

DHB: Final question, who is the cut man in your corner?

BREADMAN: Mike Rodriguez.
(*editor's note: Mike is featured in the photo above).

DHB: I want to thank the two of you for taking the time to answer these questions and I wish the both of you continued success in the future.

JULIAN and BREADMAN: Thanks Ken for the love.

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E-mail questions, comments to Ken Hissner

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