AFTER making weight for his first defence of the IBF and WBA super-welterweight titles, Julian “J-Rock” Williams conspicuously peeled and ate a banana. Looking on was challenger Jeison “Banana” Rosario. The next evening at the Liacouras Center, the joke was on Williams.
The “Banana” severely battered the favoured Philadelphian, forcing a fifth-round stoppage. If his performance against the highly regarded Williams was any indication, there’s a good argument to be made that Rosario is now the top man at super-welter.
There was an aura of strength and confidence about the 24-year-old Rosario, and when he entered the ring, his bearing hinted of a possible upset before the first punch was thrown.
Early in the first round, Williams connected with a thudding right to Rosario’s head. He responded with a spiteful left to the body but Williams was a little busier and all three judges gave him the round.
They traded body shots on even terms in the second, and at one point Williams trapped Rosario in a neutral corner. However, the challenger fought his way off the ropes and began to take over the fight. As the round drew to a close Rosario landed a four-punch combination and Williams returned to his corner with a cut on his left eyelid.
Williams scored with a jab and a right hand to start the third, and Rosario momentarily backed away. He quickly regrouped and landed combinations to the head and body. Williams fought back with a counter right to the head and landed another just before the bell rang. The title-holder was still in the fight but Rosario’s punches were causing more damage.
As in the previous rounds Williams did well in the early going of the fourth and landed a right to the body and then one to Rosario’s head. Williams, buoyed by his success, briefly held his ground and traded. It was a mistake.
Rosario landed a three-punch combination, followed by three hard rights to the head and another right-left combination. The fight had suddenly turned into a rout.
It was clear by then that Williams, whose right eye was beginning to swell, was in grave danger. Rosario was fighting with calm determination. “J-Rock” knew he was in trouble.
After having modest success at the start of the fifth round, Williams elected to trade again. He was tagged by a left hook and staggered backward. Rosario seized the moment and drove his stricken adversary across the ring and into a corner where he unleashed a frightening hail of punches.
Williams tried to cover up but it was like trying to stop bullets with an umbrella. He was drilled with 10 flush punches, his head twisting first one way and then another. He staggered forward, half out on his feet, and grabbed Rosario around the waist and slid to the canvas.
Referee Benjy Esteves could have called it a knockdown but because a punch had not landed immediately before Williams hit the floor, he ruled it was slip – a borderline call but not necessarily a bad one.
“J-Rock” had trouble regaining his feet, but when he did he indicated he wanted to continue. As if it was his only choice, he backed into the same corner where he’d just been savaged. Rosario stepped forward and drove four more clean punches into his head. When Williams lurched, Mr Esteves immediately jumped between them and stopped the fight at 1-37 of the round. Rosario’s jubilation turned to tears of joy.
“I’m so emotional right now,” he said through an interpreter. “As soon as I stepped into the ring, I knew he could not hurt me. I knew that my power was affecting him right away. This is a big victory for me and for the whole Dominican Republic.”
The 29-year-old Williams was gracious in defeat.
“I wasn’t surprised he was so good. I told everybody he’s a real fighter. I have to accept it,” Williams said. “The cut blurred my vision a little bit but it wasn’t the reason why I lost. He was the better fighter tonight. We’ve got a rematch clause. I’ll see him again soon. I’ll be back.”
The promoter was TGB Promotions.
The Verdict Rosario proves he is a force to be reckoned with.
Jeison Rosario (153lbs), 20-1-1 (14), w rsf 5 Julian Williams (153 1/2lbs), 27-2-1 (16); Chris Colbert (129 3/4lbs), 14-0 (5), w pts 12 Jezreel Corrales (129 1/2lbs), 23-4 (9); Jorge Cota (153 1/4lbs), 30-4 (27), w rsf 5 Thomas LaManna (153 1/2lbs), 28-3-1 (10); Jose Luis Gallegos (133lbs), 19-8 (14), w pts 8 Ricky Lopez (130 1/4lbs), 21-4-1 (6); Kyrone Davis (159 1/4lbs), 15-2 (6), w rsf 4 Antonio Todd (157 3/4lbs), 7-3 (4); Paul Kroll (148 3/4lbs), 7-0 (6), w rsf 4 Marcel Rivers (147 1/4lbs), 7-3 (4); Joey Spencer (155 3/4lbs), 10-0 (7), w pts 6 Erik Spring (155lbs), 13-4-2 (1); Vito Mielnicki (146lbs), 4-0 (3), w pts 4 Preston Wilson (146 1/4lbs), 6-4-1 (4); Romuel Cruz (122 1/4lbs), 4-0-1 (2), w rsf 1 Julio Garcia (123 1/4lbs), 3-4 (2); Norman Neely (241 1/2lbs), 5-0 (5), w ko 1 Larry Knight (250 1/4lbs), 4-23-1 (1); Miguel Roman (118 1/2lbs), 1-0, w pts 4 Antonio Lucaine (119 3/4lbs), 0-3.