Showtime Extreme gave us a chance Saturday to get a look at two well-regarded young fighters, Eleider Alvarez and Julian Williams. Both won, but Alvarez didn’t live up to his hype the way Williams did to his.
Granted, Alvarez faced the better competition of the two, befitting a fighter who is just now flirting with cracking the top 10 of the light heavyweight division. Alexander Johnson gave him a handful of close rounds early, as his southpaw stance, speed and deep experience as a sparring partner to top fighters allowed him to connect with some hard shots. But Alvarez was usually landing the harder shots, almost always a counter right. In the 4th he finally stopped being so conservative with his offense and it paid off with a right-left combo that disoriented Johnson, spun him around and sent him to his knee. Johnson bounced back well in the 6th and 7th, taking both rounds on my card, although Alvarez finished stronger, fighting through a cut near his eye in the 8th round to damage Johnson’s eye back in the 9th. Alvarez took the clear decision, but given the number of savvy boxing writers who are high on Alvarez, the lukewarm performance was a disappointment.
As for Williams: If I was making a short list of fighters likely to live up to their potential, Williams would be at or near the top. Keep in mind, the junior middleweight’s best opponent to date is a blown up and aged Freddy Hernandez. But he’s crushing guys the way he should, and he gives excellent boxing minds like Paulie Malignaggi and Steve Farhood plenty of grist to analyze the sharp things he does in the ring. Oh, and he’s fast and powerful — again, at least against this level of competition. He had little trouble Saturday with Michael Medina, finishing him in the 8th after brushing him out of a clinch with his shoulder and landing a right hand that dropped him and made it so he didn’t want to rise. Perhaps Williams should’ve dispensed with Medina sooner, given that Willie Nelson and Saul Roman both did, but there was nothing visibly wrong with his performance.