Julian ‘J Rock’ Williams – Championship Quality Remains



Julian ‘J Rock’ Williams – Championship Quality Remains

Philadelphia’s own Julian ‘J Rock’ Williams, the former unified WBA super and IBF world super welterweight champion, is back in training and scheduled to compete (opponent TBA) in a middleweight bout over 8 rounds on January 12th 2024 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Williams most recently competed in June 2023 in a WBC interim middleweight world title bout against current title holder Carlos Adames (23 W – 1 L).

Adames came out victorious with a round 9 TKO that was met with a lot of criticism online as Williams was still fighting back and making Adames miss in the final few seconds before a halt to the contest was called.

I recently spoke to Williams (28-4-1)  about his remaining ambitions within the sport as well as some of his ventures outside of boxing and the level of success the sport of boxing had in 2023 across the board.

Julian Williams

SA: Julian, the last few years have been up and down for you in terms of in ring activity.

You rebounded very well from your first loss as a professional to Jermall Charlo for the IBF super welterweight world championship in 2016.

You went on to win the unified WBA Super & IBF world super welterweight championship in 2019 when you defeated Jarret Hurd. How important is it for you to work your way back to the top level of the sport?

JW: I mean, I’m a bit of an old school fighter like that. I don’t do too much talking outside the ring and I try and handle my business in the ring, that’s what this sport is all about – how you handle your business on fight night.

I’ve been around long enough to know things don’t always go to plan and that’s ok. Praise be to God I’m healthy and I am disciplined, the desire to be a world champion again is there and that’s what it all comes down to in the end.

SA: I noticed on Boxrec that you have a fight scheduled on January 12th in Atlantic City.

Are you looking to make 2024 a year of activity to give yourself the best chance moving forward?

JW: The plan moving forward is to just get busy. I think sometimes when you’re just sitting around you end up getting rusty pretty quickly, I have had a number of injuries that I’ve been dealing with too and nobody knew about any of them outside of my team and family.

That was a very big part of me being inactive, so the main goal for me in 2024 is just to get back in the ring regularly and be active.

Ultimately, the more you’re fighting the sharper you’ll be. It’s about staying in the gym you understand what I mean? So, 2024 is all about activity and God willing – that activity will lead toward a big fight and it’ll all work out.

SA: That brings me on to a topic that seems to have affected a lot of fighters in the sport regardless of the level they’re competing at, inactivity. Time out of the ring has been killing careers in recent years as far back as the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.

We’ve seen fighters who are at the highest level for example, Terence Crawford who has fought once in 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023.

I appreciate some fighters may ‘live the life’ outside the ring and this may not be too much of a factor for them and may allow them to heal up from wear and tear to their bodies over the years that they’ve been involved in the sport of boxing.

On the flip side, this didn’t seem to favour someone like Deontay Wilder when he lost to Joseph Parker a few weeks back, what are your thoughts on activity levels at the moment in boxing?

JW: See, the inactivity wasn’t a blessing for Deontay Wilder, he looked off in there. There’s only so much training that someone can do without getting in there and having a fight.

It’s different, you need to rev your engine up and get fighting to really see where you’re at.

Someone like Deontay hasn’t fought for a long time under the bright lights, you see what I’m saying?

I think Deontay can come back for sure with a few fights, once he gets busy all of the little things he looked like he lost in the ring on fight night will come back again and we’ll see that old Deontay back and he’ll be a monster.

I think inactivity is an issue for the whole of the sport right now and it’s got to change. Look how sharp Devin Haney looked, he fought Lomachenko and then scheduled another high-level fight against Regis and looked amazing in that. He got back in the gym and stayed switched on.

The more you do something the better you become at it; practice makes perfect you know?

Julian Williams

SA: For someone like yourself who has been to the upper echelons of the sport and unified a division in the past, what is motivating you to continue in the sport of boxing with all of its pitfalls and potential consequences to your health?

JW: I know I can be a champion again, a two-time champion for sure. I still have that fire inside, that hunger to get back there.

I think there are a lot of great fights out there for me at both 154 and 160 and I believe in my ability.

I’ll go to either of those weights to take the right opportunities to be a world champion once again.

If I didn’t have the desire inside me, I would wrap it up, this sport is too dangerous to half ass or only be committed to in a small way. It’s got to be all or nothing when you’re in the sport.

SA: At the moment, the super welterweight and middleweight divisions are very interesting in terms of the fights that can be made as well as a number of world championships being vacated by former undisputed super welterweight champion Jermell Charlo.

Even the benefit of not having a Canelo Alvarez or Gennady Golovkin around holding multiple belts and sanctioning bodies not forcing their hands can only be seen as a benefit to the other contenders surely.

Have you got a particular route you’re already aiming to go down or is that all dependent on how you’re feeling after your middleweight return bout on the 12th of January?

JW: Yes, those divisions have a lot of great fighters currently competing in them that’s for sure.

A lot of big money fights are going to be happening and I aim to get myself back in the mix.

We have got the benefit of not having belts being held up due to politics or certain fighters holding them without fighting the rightful contenders.

It’s going to be interesting to see how it all shapes up and God willing I can get myself in a position to fight for a world championship soon enough.

SA: 2023 ended up being a historic year for boxing on many levels. Big fight after big fight, unifications, undisputed champions being crowned and mega pay per view cards all around the world being put on by numerous promoters and broadcasters.

What does this say to the health of the sport of boxing in today’s world and what were your thoughts on boxing in 2023 as a whole?

JW: I think that 2023 as a whole was a truly historic year for the sport of boxing.

You know, we may not have had the undisputed heavyweight fight between Fury and Usyk or the undisputed light heavyweight fight between Beterbiev and Bivol but one of those is scheduled to take place and the other is apparently in the works too.

Even without those two fights last year it was an amazing year but you know how it is in boxing, we always find something to complain about or criticise – we cant please everybody.

We got to see Tank v Garcia, we got to finally witness Spence v Crawford and a lot of great fights last year.

Obviously, there was a lot of money on offer for the big fights to happen but it’s down to fighters having the ambition too you know. Credit to them all, even Haney with what he accomplished last year, it’s great to see.

SA: I’ve always been intrigued by how fighters look after their finances, and I’ve always seen you posting about properties and being a landlord.

Can you talk to me a little bit about how you managed to ensure you invested your money in the correct way and secured some form of financial freedom outside of the sport of boxing?

JW: Absolutely. Alright, so boxing has taught me discipline both inside and outside of the ring.

I’ve been lucky enough to be surrounded by people who have both handled their finances correctly and some who were unfortunate and made mistakes along the way.

So I always listened to conversations and took advantage of being around people who wanted to make sure I didn’t make those mistakes myself.

A former Olympic gold medallist, Tyrell Biggs used to work at the gym I started boxing at and he was always talking to me about how he ruined his life by living a certain type of lifestyle and not remaining disciplined.

There are a number of things that he discussed with me, which I wont go into and I’m going to conceal his shortcomings, but it always stuck with me.

I took onboard the things he told me and made sure I tried something different outside of boxing too since you don’t know if you’re even going to make it.

Millions of people turn pro but a very small percentage make it to the point of 6 or 7 figure paydays and I’ve been fortunate enough to make it to both of those so I made sure to invest in real estate and make that a priority.

My coach Stephen Edwards is a property investor too so he has been a guide for me through my journey in property investment as well as in the ring.

Trainer and fighter show their exuberance and bond. Julian Williams and Stephen Edwards in Leo Wilson pic.

Trainer and fighter show their exuberance and bond. Julian Williams and Stephen Edwards in Leo Wilson photo

SA: It’s been great catching up with you after a few years Julian, just to wrap up since we spoke about what a great year 2023 was can you tell me who you had as your fighter of the year for 2023 and the performance of the year for 2023 as well?

JW: Of course, for me man the fighter of the year has got to go to Terence Crawford.

Simply because he just completely dominated in the most anticipated fight of the year, that fight has been spoken about for the last 5 years and was supposed to be a really competitive fight – look at what he did in there.

The performance of the year for me has to go to Terence Crawford too, he beat a pound for pound dude, a real dude in Errol Spence Jr. who was smashing all of the other opponents that were put in front of him and then Terence just completely dominated him on fight night.

We can’t talk about the car accident or injuries sustained years before the fight because ultimately Spence carried himself like a champion and like a man – he has all of my respect.

He didn’t make a single excuse, so how can we make excuses for someone who didn’t make any for themselves?

He’s always shown a hell of a lot of character and I’m sure he will come back.

The bottom line is fight night and what you do with those 36 minutes, the best you can do in the ring in those 36 minutes on the clock. I look forward to their rematch.