On March 5, undefeated light middleweight Julian Williams will face once-beaten Marcello Matano at the Sands Casino in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The bout is an IBF title eliminator.
Williams started boxing at age 12 and had a nice amateur career, before turning professional in 2010. Now 25, he has been steadily advancing up the ranking. His current record is 21-0-1 with 13 KOs, with the draw coming in a six-rounder with an older and more experienced Francisco Santanta, in his seventh professional fight.
Julian Williams spent last year looking for the kind of big fight that could make him a star. In the meantime, he turned in three impressive performances. He shut out Joey Hernandez 100-89 on all three cards in April 2015. He stopped Arman Ovsepyan in June and Luciano Cuello in September.
Matano isn’t really a step up in competition from those three. In fact, I’d say he’s probably a step down. His record doesn’t look bad on paper, at 16-1, but he’s got just five KOs and has never fought outside of his native Italy as a professional. In 2014 he lost by TKO to 8-3-1 Felice Moncelli.
I expect Williams to make pretty quick work of Matano. But as an IBF eliminator, this bout should at least be the one to move Williams into a position to finally get a major fight that could elevate him into the division’s true elite.
In comments quoted in a press release sent out by King’s Promotion on Wednesday afternoon, Williams made it clear that he was anxious to make good on this opportunity: “This upcoming fight is the biggest of my career…I refuse to let Marcello Matano stop me from becoming a world champion.”
Matano is very unlikely to be able to do so. But a win for Williams here would put him into position for a shot at IBF champion Jermall Charlo and winning that bout will be a far tougher proposition.