Julian “J-Rock” Williams has done what he needs to do as a prospect in boxing. The Philadelphia born fighter has produced enough in-ring interests to engage the boxing fans in the kind of way that has us rooting for him to get a big fight. He has 5 KO/TKOs in his last 7 fights and has beaten some fairly tough opposition as a prospect – fighters such as Joey Hernandez, Freddy Hernandez, Orlando Lora and Joachim Alcine.
However, Williams is ready for that big fight, and the fans are willing and anxious to see him in one as well. This is an important time for Williams. Right now, fans love “J-Rock” and it’s easy to relate to him because he’s been showcased for so long and we fans feel like we’ve been on the journey with Williams.
But if Williams’ management takes too long to get him the big fight then fans may turn on him in the same kind of way they have Leo Santa Cruz and Danny Jacobs (Haymon fighters). If it were up to Williams he’d have already faced multiple world champions. But making fights has always been a team effort, and his team is desperately trying to land the big name J-Rock deserves.
There are rumors making their way around the boxing circles regarding who Williams will fight next, but some of those names seem farfetched. However, it is a good sign that the Williams camp is refusing to discuss them outright because the magnitude of a big fight would make negotiations a sensitive issue, which is never helped by the media.
Williams has been calling out Austin Trout in an oddly consistent manner. Williams seems obsessed with Trout for some reason. I don’t mean to suggest that Williams is fixated with Trout in a weird way, but it is weird that Williams is so intent on fight Trout and only Trout. In fact, Trout has been the only name J-Rock will openly call out over the past several months.
Stephen “BreadMan” Edwards is the trainer/manager of Williams, and he works closely with Williams’ advisor Al Haymon. Edwards says that they accepted a fight nearly 9 months ago to fight Austin Trout, but the fight obviously never materialized.
The way Edwards explains it, J-Rock is not obsessed with Trout, but he is obsessed with fighting the best fighters available to him. Trout represents the highest ranked 154lb fighter in Haymon’s stable. Sadly, the politics of boxing have limited Williams’ prospects and his options are limited. The worst part is that Williams might be the best fighter at junior middleweight, but he can’t prove it against Trout alone, and he might not get the chance to prove it anytime soon.
“I really can’t tell you why, but the fight was accepted on our side. People think that [Julian] is obsessed with fighting Austin Trout, but Austin Trout was the highest ranked fighter that Haymon has by the Ring and other organizations, so that seemed like a logical thing to earn yourself a title shot,” Edwards said in an interview with Nestor Gibbs published on Thaboxingvoice’s YouTube channel.
Edwards seems genuinely frustrated with the situation as Williams continues to be avoided and overlooked.
In the interview with Gibbs, Edwards admitted to accepting fights with Tony Harrison before Willie Nelson pulled the minor upset and Vanes Martirosyan before Jermell Charlo got the nod. Both of those fights would’ve been tough and earned J-Rock plenty of recognition from fight fans if he pulled out the win, but neither of those fighters are very attractive from a commercial standpoint.
That is proof that J-Rock and Edwards are desperate to fight the best opponents possible. They are so ready and willing that they will take the calculated gamble against tough fighters with smaller rewards.
Edwards is hoping that the fans and the media will push the big fights and force those names at 154lbs into a fight with Williams. We’ll have to wait and see. However, the real issue is with Haymon.
Haymon is very smart and very capable. If he wanted to get a Golden Boy or Top Rank fighter in the ring with Williams then I believe he could, but I wouldn’t say the same about Oscar De La Hoya and Bob Arum if the role were reversed. The pressure needs to be put on Haymon to do right by his fighters, regardless of ego and political resentment.