Someone had to be the first to fall here in 2020. And last night, in suffering the first big and important upset defeat of the new year, Julian Williams became the first defending world champion to get shocked. The Philly warrior, fighting before a big home town crowd, was TKO’d in the fifth round by heavy underdog Jeison Rosario of the Dominican Republic, now based in Miami.
Williams, who won the WBA/IBF/IBO 154 pound belts with an upset of his own, his May 2019 decision victory over Jarrett Hurd, didn’t have the punch resistance or the sheer toughness to be able to hang with Rosario, and some fans wonder if “J Rock” will be able to reign again. Williams, now 27-2-1(16) congratulated Rosario after the fight, stating also how he intends to take the rematch clause return fight. But can Williams get revenge? Will his chin let him down again (as it did against Jermall Charlo, who took him out back in December of 2016)?
Williams has said that he has “been here before,” and that he can and will “come back stronger.” Naturally, new champ Rosario, 20-1-1(14) has other ideas. Indeed, Rosario, who has been stopped once himself, this by Nathaniel Gallimore back in April of 2017; Rosario winning eight and drawing one fight since, would likely be the favourite over Williams in a return meeting.
It was a good fight last night, with a good deal of action, but the big talking point is the big upset that occurred (some betting sites had challenger Rosario listed as a whopping great 30-1 underdog heading into last night’s bout). Just under three weeks into the new boxing year and we already have an Upset of the Year contender. How many other big names will fall victim to a stunner of an upset defeat before the year is out? Boxing is, of course, the theater of the unexpected, as Larry Merchant said.
Williams, who really was manhandled by Rosario, knows this better than anyone right about now.