After his hard fought and well deserved unanimous decision victory over previously undefeated Jarrett Hurd was announced to the 5,105 partisan fans in attendance Saturday at the EagleBank Arena in Fairfax, Va., Julian “J Rock” Williams had a message for the boxing world.
“Stop condemning fighters after they take a loss. It’s boxing, things happen.”
An emotional Williams (27-1-1, 16 KO) had more than earned the right to drive this point home after having his nearly decade long career reduced to an endlessly shared gif of his knockout loss to Jermall Charlo back in December of 2016.
The three-second clip shows Charlo (28-0, 21 KO) parrying a right hook from Williams, stepping onto his back foot and throwing a stabbing right uppercut that sends J Rock lunging forward onto his face, an unfinished left-hand counter of his own swinging at the air where his opponent once was.
As spectacular as this knockout sequence is, it does little in telling the story of the fight. Williams was acquitting himself well, more than holding his own against a dangerous puncher until he simply got caught by once in a lifetime shot.
It’s boxing, things happen.
Barring the occasional draw or no contest, fifty percent of the participants in every fight will lose. Those are rigged slot machine odds. So how is it that we’ve gotten to the point where this overwhelmingly statistical probability can derail a fighter’s career? We bark out platitudes about guys “leaving it all in the ring” and other such nonsense, yet the second they do and the coin flips for the wrong guy, we see them as damaged goods.
This is the situation Julian Williams found himself in as he stepped into the ring against reigning champion and 5-1 favorite Jarrett “Swift” Hurd on Saturday night on a Premier Boxing Champions on FOX televised card.
Williams was to be a stepping stone for Hurd on the way to his own fight with the aforementioned Charlo. A sensational fighter dripping with star power, “Swift” has the type of personality and TV-friendly style that promoters have to change their sheets over. Coming into the fight with Williams, he also possessed the false comfort of that all-important zero in the loss column of his record.
A 28-year momma’s boy who still lives at home in his parent’s Maryland basement fighting in his hometown on the eve of Mother’s Day against a perceived fragile opponent. From a marketing standpoint, what more could you ask for? What could go wrong?
If you put a premium on unblemished records, it turns out a lot could go wrong. If you value highly entertaining fights between two exceptionally skilled fighters, however, you were left with few complaints.
Hurd, a traditionally slow starter, was put in numerous uncomfortable situations by a swarming Williams intent on exploiting his opponent’s early round lethargy. The three-inch height advantage for Swift was negated by J Rock’s desire to do his dirty work on the inside. #pause
With a half minute remaining in the second round Williams showed just how nasty he was willing to get as a looping left hook caught Hurd on the top of his head and momentarily scrambled his equilibrium as he dropped to the canvas. He was up seconds later and survived the round but this was not the damaged goods the oddsmakers told him he was up against.
As the rounds wore on, Hurd eventually found the gas pedal and decided to step on it. Williams showed no signs of laying off his accelerator and had an answer for everything his opponent threw at him. The ninth round, in particular, showcased J Rock’s precision as he landed 26 of his 46 punches thrown, a startling 56.5%.
Both fighters finished strong as the final round was their most active with Williams throwing 75 punches and landing 31 while Hurd threw a whopping 94 punches, landing 26 of them.
Ultimately, it wasn’t enough as Hurd earned his first professional loss moments later as the judges made their scorecards official.
I say earned because not all losses are created equal. Some can discourage and some can expose. Some can cause lasting physical harm. Yet, losses like the one Hurd experienced against Williams will only make him a better fighter, just as Williams’ loss to Charlo did him.
They say if you never lost, chances are that you’ve never fought anybody. Few fighters will finish their career without experiencing a loss and the ones that do likely had a promoter’s hand in making it happen. We can’t afford to let good fighters and potentially great fights slip away from us because their records aren’t a statistical anomaly.
Hurd is a wonderful fighter. Adding a one to his loss column does nothing to change that.
Williams is not a Charlo knockout gif. He is a remarkably talented prizefighter who can beat anyone at or around 154 pounds and look great doing so.
There is a rematch clause for this fight which Hurd has already expressed interest in pursuing. Will a second fight between these two thrilling junior middleweights look any different now that they’ve both earned the experience of a loss?
It’s boxing, things happen.