Story by: Chip Mitchell
There are many fans and media who were extremely impressed with contender Julian “J-Rock” Williams (22-1-1, 14 KOs) prior to his title challenge versus Jermall Charlo last December. Included in that number was this journalist, who was eager to see how far the young man could go in our beloved, yet ferocious sport.
Williams failed in his quest for the IBF strap against Charlo, and now returns in a super welterweight bout against Joshua Conley (14-1-1, 9 KOs) on a Premier Boxing Champions on Bounce card Friday, June 30.
Williams vs. Conley will be the co-feature, with televised coverage beginning at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.
The main event is IBF World lightweight champion Robert Easter Jr. (19-0, 14 KOs) defending against Denis Shafikov (38-2-1, 20 KOs).
Also on the televised portion of the card are unbeaten welterweight prospects Jamontay Clark (11-0, 7 KOs) and Ivan Golub (13-0, 11 KOs) who will battle in an eight-round matchup.
I’m eager to see how Williams acquits himself in his return to action, especially with an opponent who packs a bit of a punch. While Conley’s resume doesn’t have signature names that stand out, the same could be said of Williams heading into his challenge against Charlo. You could similarly add Errol Spence Jr.’s name to that list, up until his successful title challenge against Kell Brook. So the intrigue of the unknown lends merit to see how the kid (Williams) reacts in his comeback fight.
Williams, to his credit, says all the right things… the things you want to hear a fighter say coming off of an initial defeat. Yet, as it goes, this is why we ‘fight the fights’ in this theatre of the unexpected.
I believe Williams to be a technically sound fighter. There were a few flaws that Williams himself expressed a need to rectify after his loss to Charlo. On paper, this seems to be a solid opponent who Williams should defeat after getting quality rounds of work. However, I doubt if Conley enters the ring thinking he’s “the opponent” in this high-reward-for-him challenge.
As much as the Charlo loss shouldn’t be an indictment on his career, to some fans and (so-called) media it is. So Williams has to dust off his shoulder and get back in and prove ’em wrong. In my opinion, I’m equally as intrigued with his trainer, Stephen Edwards. His journey will go as Williams’s goes.
Edwards was hailed the next great trainer, albeit prematurely, by many-a-boxing scribe. He certainly has the mind for it, as he passed a few of my historical quizzes thrown his way.
“I am definitely excited to get back in the ring,” said Williams. “I can’t wait. It feels like it has been two years, not six months. I took my loss on the chin. I tried to learn as much as possible from it and I’m moving forward. Conley is a solid fighter. He only has one loss and it was to Daquan Arnett, who is another good fighter. I know he is coming to win. If he beats me, it opens a lot of doors and takes him to the next stage of his career so I have to come prepared.”
“This is a great opportunity for my career and I feel like a win here puts me on the list of up-and-coming 154-pound fighters,” said Conley. “Training camp has been going well. I’m ready to do whatever it takes. I know that it’s going to be a tough fight. I expect Julian to come out fast and try to prove something, but I’m going to stay composed and do what I have to do.”
This is a nice comeback fight for Julian Williams. If he gets past Conley, I’d like to see the young man back in twice this year. If he passes those tests, it should set him up for a title challenge with the winner of the July 29 fight between IBF titleholder Jarrett Hurd and Austin Trout.
Another possibility is a matchup with WBC titleholder Jermell Carlo, Jermall’s younger (by one minute) brother. It’d be nice to see if Williams can get some semblance of revenge in that contest.
First things first, however, as Williams must pass his first test against Conley. Conley has a good left hook and likes to double hook to the body and head. He can fight coming forward and off his back foot as he looks to land big.
I haven’t seen much of a jab from Conley and think this is something Williams can exploit. When Conley elects to throw the jab, it’s quick. However, the range sometimes isn’t where it should be. Also, there are moments in fights where Conley’s jab does a disappearing act. When this happens, Conley is usually looking to land something big, preferably the big left hook. Just something to watch in this fight.
Check out Williams vs. Conley, June 30 on the undercard of Robert Easter Jr defending against Denis Shafikov.