(Photo credit: Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME) Julian Williams secured the IBF’s No. 1 position at 154 pounds and called out Junior Middleweight World Champion Jermall Charlo after an impressive seventh-round TKO of Italian Marcello Matano Saturday on SHOWTIME from Sands Bethlehem Events Center in Bethlehem, Pa.
The undefeated Philadelphia native put on a clinic, breaking down his opponent from the opening bell until referee Gary Rosato stepped in to protect a defenseless Matano (16-2, 5 KOs) at 2:24 of the seventh. Williams (23-0-1, 14 KOs) utilized a steady diet of combos, jabs and body shots in the middle rounds to weaken Matano and set up the big shots to close the show in the seventh. VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS: http://s.sho.com/1QzbBBb
Williams landed 59 percent of his power shots, including a staggering 76 percent in the deciding seventh.
“Maybe people will think they saw a chink in the armor tonight,” Williams said. “Maybe guys will come out from under the rock and get some of this West Philly work.
“Jermall has been watching my performances. Him and his brother know exactly who I am. He needs to fight or vacate now. He needs to step up, but he’s already laying his groundwork and making excuses.
“Step up and fight me. It’s two of the best junior middleweights in the world. It’s about greatness. I want to be great. All of you turkeys at 154 pounds, let’s fight.”
After the fight, Matano took issue with the stoppage.
“He was pretty fast with his jab, but I felt like I was just getting into the fight,” Matano said. “I felt the punch, but I felt like I could have kept going. I have a warrior heart and I never want to quit.
“I’m going to go back to Italy and take a little rest, then I’ll be right back in the gym. It was a wonderful experience coming here to America. I got to fight a top-echelon fighter and I feel like I belong.”
Avtandil Khurtsidze, a human brick wall barreling forward, upset previously unbeaten middleweight contender Antoine Douglas with a thoroughly dominating 10th-round TKO.
The 35-year-old “mini-Mike Tyson” plowed forward from the opening bell until the TKO at 0:33 of the 10th. The 6-foot Douglas had no answer for his 5-foot-4 opponent, a Brooklyn-based native of Georgia who is looking to become the first world champion from the former Soviet nation.
Khurtsidze (32-2-2, 21 KOs) hurt Douglas (19-1-1, 13 KOs) with a big left in the opening seconds of the third round, sending the 23-year-old face forward through the ropes. Somehow, Douglas recovered from the first knockdown of his career and fought himself back into the fight. The Washington, D.C., native rallied to win the fourth and the fifth rounds, and the all-action sixth could have gone either way.
Khurtsidze opened the seventh with a monstrous one-punch left to floor Douglas, who again somehow survived the round on failing legs as Khurtsidze threw over 100 total punches. Khurtsidze, who showed unbelievable stamina to push the pressure throughout, started the 10th with a relentless attack, forcing referee Benjy Esteves to stop the fight at 0:33 of the with Douglas defenseless against the ropes.
“I knew he was going to get tired,” said Khurtsidze, who took the fight on less than three weeks notice. “I felt like I was going to catch him. He’s a good fighter, but he’s not strong.
“I knew he was going to be hungry. But I also knew that I was going to beat him. It was short notice but I did everything I could in the time we had. I stayed in the gym and stayed sharp.
“Whoever they put in front me, I’m ready for them. I love fighting. I’ll fight anybody.”
Douglas had entered the fight as a fast-rising 160-pounder on the cusp of a title shot.
“I feel OK,” Douglas told SHOWTME Sports analyst Steve Farhood after the fight. “He definitely dictated. He definitely had a better day today. It’s not discouraging, we just weren’t able to execute. Naturally, I’m crushed. It’s back to the drawing board.”
In the opening bout of the telecast, middleweight contender Tony Harrison looked impressive in a sixth round TKO over former world title challenger Fernando Guerrero.
Harrison (23-1, 19 KOs) was the aggressor from the outset, jabbing at range to set up his favorite weapon – a powerful right. The Detroit native floored Guerrero with a big right with 15 seconds to go in the second round. The southpaw got up, but looked hurt and was saved by the bell.
Guerrero (28-4, 20 KOs) had his moments in the fourth and fifth rounds after some heedful advice from his corner, but he couldn’t get inside to escape Harrison’s powerful right. It was a clean left hook midway through the sixth that ultimately finished Guerrero. After Harrison dropped Guerrero with the left, the Dominican Republic native beat the count but had no legs and went back to the canvas after four more consecutive shots from Harrison, forcing referee Gary Rosato to stop the bout at 1:56 of the sixth.
“I threw punches back and I finished the rounds stronger than him,” said Harrison, who landed 57 percent of his power shots. “I dominated the fight. My dad kept telling me to put the hook behind the right hand and if I had listened to him better I could have gotten the knockout much quicker.
“I was backing him up. My game plan was to take advantage of the fact that southpaws don’t fight well going backwards. I tried to just keep putting him back and discouraging him. I told everyone I was taking the fight to him. What’s not to like about me? I’m exciting.
“I want big fights, I want to go back to Detroit and I want the Willie Nelson rematch.”
Said Guerrero: “I wasn’t on today. He wasn’t faster than me, stronger than me or more skilled. I just locked up. I wasn’t listening to my corner, I didn’t do anything tonight.
“It just happens. Sometimes you have a bad day. Today was as bad as I could ever imagine.
“We’ll go back to the drawing board. I didn’t do what I was supposed to do. We trained so hard. He wasn’t as fast or strong as we thought he’d be. Today was a bad day for me to have a bad day.”