By: Hans Themistode
The risk often outweighs the reward. That’s frequently the case when a fighter finds himself in a mandatory position.
Too many times have we seen fighters scratch and claw their way to the number one ranking in a specific sanctioning body, only to lose everything in the blink of an eye due to one bad night at the office.
The options are usually reduced to two at that point. Either said fighter sits back and waits a protracted amount of time for his shot, or he takes on an heralded opponent with little to no chance of an upset happening.
Jr middleweight contender Erickson Lubin isn’t a fan of either option. And while he’s already ranked number one in the WBC for Jermell Charlo’s title, that doesn’t mean he isn’t willing to risk it all.
“We are hoping for the mandatory shot at Charlo next,” said Lubin’s head trainer Kevin Cunningham to BoxingScene.com. “If Charlo isn’t next, I’m sure the fans wouldn’t mind seeing Erickson Lubin versus Jarret Hurd or Erickson Lubin versus Julian Williams. Most fighters that get in mandatory position sit until they get the title shot. Hammer wants to stay busy. He is willing to face the other top guys until he gets a shot.”
Lubin, 25, has a second chance at a first impression. After winning ESPN’s prospect of the year in 2016, the Florida native was fast tracked to a world title shot against the aforementioned Charlo one year later.
The hype train surrounding him was quickly derailed as a Charlo right hand left him down and out in the first round. He’s since bounced back in a huge way, winning five straight and finding himself in the mandatory position once again.
If Lubin gets his wish, he’ll be facing Charlo in his next fight with revenge on his mind. But he’ll find his man a bit heavier this time around thanks to several additional world titles due to his eighth round stoppage win over Jeison Rosario.
As much as Cunningham would love for his man to begin his own title reign, he knows that Charlo has a bevy of options in front of him.
“Hammer’s sitting in a good position and we’re waiting to see how things play out. Big props to Jermell Charlo for his KO win over Rosario. I agree with Max Kellerman, Charlo is the undisputed junior middleweight champion. Hammer’s Charlo’s WBC mandatory but Charlo has mandatories with the WBA and IBF also. There’s also talk of a Charlo-Teixeira unification for the WBO.”
By: Hans Themistode
The number six is a small figure, relatively speaking, but for Jr middleweight contender Julian Williams, it means everything right now.
Much like the rest of the world, the former Jr middleweight champion has spent much of his quarantine sequestered at home. The time off has allowed him to think over his career, and where he wants to spend the second half of it.
After years of facing the best at 154 pounds, the 30 year old Williams believes it’s time for a change.
“I’ve been fighting at this weight since I was 15,” said Williams to Ray Flores on a recent episode of Time Out. “I went to the Silver Gloves as a 15 year old and fought at 147, then when I came back I turned open class and I fought at 152. When I turned pro I fought at 154. I’ve been fighting between 147-154 my entire life so I think it’s becoming a bit much so I’m going up soon. I think I’ll have two more fights.”
Before Williams chucks up the peace sign to the Jr middleweight division, he still has championship thoughts on his mind.
In May of 2019, Williams completed a life long mission in becoming a world champion when he dethroned Jarrett Hurd in his home town of Fairfax Virginia. Unfortunately for Williams though, he was hit with Déjà vu as the unheralded Jeison Rosario came stomping into his Philadelphia backyard and ripped away the titles from him via fifth round stoppage.
Williams could have easily opted for an immediate rematch, but chose to take care of other business first. Still, the former champion not only intends to win his titles back, but he plans on picking up another in the process.
“I decided to go against exercising the rematch clause because I needed to get surgery on my face. I had a lot of scar tissue on my face. So instead of jumping back in there and possibly developing more scar tissue, I decided to go and get the surgery.”
“From what I hear, Rosario and Jermell are going to fight for the undisputed championship and I’m going to get the winner of that fight. In the meantime, I’m going to take an interim fight.”
While Williams twiddles his thumbs as he waits on the selection of his opponent, he already envisions what it would be like to fight inside of an empty arena once he does return. The worldwide pandemic caused by COVID-19 has forced fans to watch the sport on their television screens instead of the arena. But while throwing leather in an empty venue might be new to other fighters, Williams is used to it.
“I wasn’t a highly touted prospect coming out of the amateurs so I fought inside a lot of empty stadiums.”
By: Hans Themistode
When Jarrett Hurd walked around the Jr Middleweight division as a champion, it was thought that he could not be beat. The 29 year old had already collected the names of Tony Harrison, Austin Trout and Erislandy Lara on his resume. So when Julian Williams was chosen as his next man in line, no one thought much of it.
Williams was good, maybe even really good. But great? Absolutely not.
The book on Williams was already released. In terms of skills, he’s second to none. But he just flat out can’t take a shot. In 2016, Williams was stopped in his first bid to win a world title against then champion Jermall Charlo. Call it unfair if you want, but once a fighter suffers a brutal knockout loss, not much is expected of them.
With Hurd being just as big and just as strong as Charlo, the unified champ was expected to walk right through him on December 1st, 2018, in front of his hometown fans at EagleBank Arena, Fairfax Virginia.
Boxing, like always, is the theater of the unknown. You just never know what you’re going to get once a fighter walks inside of that ring.
Williams may have been a heavy underdog, but remove the word under, and that will show you what he was on the night. A dog.
Williams dropped and beat down Hurd to take away every single one of his three Jr Middleweight straps.
Surprising? Yes. But even more so was what happened next.
Hurd elected to not pick up his immediate rematch clause with Williams. The criticism quickly came flying and Williams led the way.
“I’m just a bad style matchup for him,” said Williams a few months back. “I’ll beat him every single time, so no, I’m not surprised that he didn’t take the rematch.”
Sometimes karma can take a really long time to come back full circle. But make no mistake about it, she always comes back.
On May 11th, 2019, Williams found himself on the wrong end of an upset victory of his own at the hands of Jeison Rosario, in front of his hometown crowd in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The loss was surprising, but not nearly as much as what happened more recently.
Williams had no choice. He had to take the immediate rematch with Rosario, even if he didn’t want to. The former unified champ had gone on record several times criticizing Hurd for not doing the same. If Williams chose to go in another direction, then that would be ironic to say the least. Well, it now seems as though Williams will be following in those same critiqued footsteps.
Williams has officially decided to forgo his rematch option and instead will choose to rest after recent surgery. So now, the playbook of Rosario which contained only one name before the news Williams broke, has now opened up in a big way.
Fights with WBC titlist Jermell Charlo, along with former belt holders Erislandy Lara and Tony Harrison are now officially on the table. Still, assuming he is still a belt holder down the line, Rosario could still be matched up with Williams after he has recovered.
For now, the same criticism that Hurd was forced to deal with for months on end, will now be placed on the shoulders of Williams. No one, especially former champion Jarrett Hurd will feel apathetic towards his situation.