This first weekend in March will be a big one for boxing, as premium cable giants Showtime and HBO go head-to-head with competing cards. While heavyweight contender Luis Ortiz fights in D.C. on HBO, on Showtime, undefeated junior middleweight Julian Williams will face once-beaten Marcello Matano at the Sands Casino in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, as part of a triple-header. The Showtime card will also feature undefeated middleweight Antoine Douglas and junior middleweight contender Tony Harrison, who is looking to get back in the win column after a devastating knockout loss to Willie Nelson last July.
Williams is just 25 and sports a record of 21-0 with 13 KOs. He’s one of the rising contenders in the 154-pound division, but he still hasn’t gotten the sort of high-profile opportunity that could raise his stock to the next tier.
It was a situation he addressed in comments provided on Wednesday by King’s Promotions: “I have come to a conclusion that if people don’t have to fight Julian Williams then they won’t….I can’t worry about the people who won’t fight me. I just have to stay ready and put myself in the mandatory sport.”
According to William’s trainer, Stephen Edwards, a potential fight with former champion Austin Trout fell through late last year: “We thought we were going to fight Austin Trout in December, and he saw that Julian gave his opponent a concussion and said I don’t want to fight him. It’s just that simple.”
I’m not so sure it’s actually that simple, of course. Trout is a guy who beat Miguel Cotto convincingly and fought very evenly with Canelo Alvarez. Then again, Williams is a less well-known, hungry contender, so it would have been a risky proposition for Trout.
Regardless, Williams is at the point where he clearly deserves a big-time fight. Matano is a level of opponent Williams has already shined against, but at least in this case, he’s in an IBF-eliminator fight. So if he can take care of his business this weekend, Williams should be up for a shot at fellow sensation Jermall Charlo, the IBF champ. That could be one of the more interesting fights of 2016.