The people in the Liacouras Center were in shock after referee Benjy Esteves had to step in to stop the bout in the 5th round as Jeison Rosario (20-1-1, 14 KOs) defeated Julian “J-Rock” Williams (27-2-1, 16 KOs) to win the IBF and WBA super welterweight titles. It was the second stoppage loss for Williams, as Jermell Charlo was the other one to do it in 2016.
Williams came into the fight as a 33-1 favorite, and that was not much of a surprise given the competition that he has faced, coming into the bout as the champion in comparison to Rosario having his first world title fight, and Williams being in his hometown of Philadelphia. In the first couple of rounds Williams got some early momentum by landing combinations. Things started to change in Rosario’s favor when he landed a shot which opened up a cut above the left eye of Williams. That affected Julian’s vision and Rosario was able to take advantage and continue to land power shots in the next couple of rounds.
The 5th round was back and forth during the first minute until Rosario landed a left hook while being on the ropes to halt Williams and send him back then another left hand had Williams in trouble. A series of punches forced Willams to clinch, but Rosario broke away from it and Williams ended up on the canvas due to a slip. The fight was still in Rosario’s favor as he was able to back Williams to the ropes again, and then a right uppercut seriously hurt Williams and Esteves stopped the bout at the 1:23 mark of the 5th round.
Rosario was jubilant after getting the win to be a world champion for the first time. “I’m so emotional in this moment right now,” he said. “When I lost my last fight I said I will never lose again until I become champion of the world and that’s what happened tonight. I came prepared. I knew before the fight that I was going to win it.”
In 2017, Rosario was stopped by Nathaniel Gallimore but he went 7-0-1 coming into this bout against Williams. That streak gave him the confidence to come into a crowd heavily in support for Williams to get the win.
“As soon as I stepped into the ring, I knew he could not hurt me. I realized that I was going to win once I was offered the fight. I knew that If I made the sacrifice, that I would do what I did tonight.”
Williams was very disappointed that he lost in front of his home crowd, but he gave Rosario credit. “I wasn’t surprised he was so good. I told everybody he’s a real fighter,” he said after the fight. “I have to accept it. Rosario was the better man tonight.”
It was the first defense of the titles, and he wanted to make an impression in front of his home. He wasn’t the victor tonight but feels that he can get Rosario back in the rematch. “It was a great homecoming for my fans and I’m sorry I let them down. What went wrong tonight needs to and will be fixed. We’re going to an immediate rematch and we look forward to returning the favor.”