For the second straight year,
the first local show of the
season ended the very same way - with a massive upset that sent boxing fans home with
their mouths gaping and heads shaking. We all remember the stunning
KO of Christian Carto last year, and on Saturday night Philly boxing
fans watched Julian Williams shockingly lose his world titles in
astonishing fashion to a ranked but little known challenger. As it
turned out, Williams' first title defense was not a mere homecoming
celebration at for our newly minted champ. Jeison Rosario saw to
Instead of being a young,
plucky, over-matched challenger just happy to be there, Rosario of the
Republic proved to be a man on a mission in his inaugural visit to
Philly and first shot at a world title. The visitor made good with
dishing a shocking upset to heavily favored IBF & WBA junior
middleweight champ Julian Williams. After dropping the first round,
Rosario soared to victory in five bloody and brutal rounds of
boxing. And when the smoke cleared, the 154-pound division had a new
kingpin. The TKO win by Rosario was impressive and without
question or any controversy.
Before a large crowd at North
Philly's Liacouras Center, Williams opened well and looked good in
the first round. He controlled the early going with his jab and
stiff right hands. However before long, the champ's eyes appeared
slightly puffy from punches by Rosario that no one seemed to notice.
And by the end of the round, Williams was bleeding from a cut left
In round two, invigorated by
his blood-letting, Rosario kicked his game into high gear. The
visitor became aggressive and fired punches in an endless stream.
Rosario set the pace and strung together the next few rounds.
Meanwhile, Williams pawed at his dripping eye and did his best to
battle his way back into the fight. He landed his own strong shots,
but they did little to deter the charging challenger.
Rosario just kept coming and
landing with more and more authority. Slowly it became clear that
this was not just a hyped-up young fighter who would flash out after
a few rounds. He was wearing Williams down and Julian, although
focused and determined himself, was giving ground. Rosario won
rounds two and four for sure, and probably had the best of the
closer third round as well. But the underdog just kept getting
stronger as the fight progressed.
In the fifth, Williams stayed
in the fight, jabbing and tossing power shots, but Rosario walked
through those shots. About one minute into the round, Rosario hurt
Williams with a left hook. The punch sent Julian reeling backward.
Rosario followed, punching all the way. A few more telling blows
landed, and Julian's legs turned rubbery.
He twisted and turned, trying
to avoid the onslaught. As Williams backed away and Rosario tried to
grab him, Julian slipped to the canvas and rolled onto his back. He
got to one knee and took a deep breath as he struggled to his feet.
The incident was correctly called a slip by referee Benjy Esteves,
and although it was NOT a knockdown, the writing was on the wall as
Williams waited - still wobbling - for the fight to resume.
When Esteves waved Rosario back
in, the challenger pounced on Williams. He jabbed a few times before
cracking Williams with a right. Julian staggered. Rosario stepped in
and speared Williams with a vicious right uppercut to the chin that
snapped his head toward the upper deck of the Liacouras Center.
Rosario quickly followed with a jolting left hook. As Williams
sagged against the ropes, the referee slid in to stop the fight. The
time was 1:37 of round five.
With the win, Rosario, 20-1-1,
14 KOs, claimed the IBF, WBA, and IBO title belts and established
himself as a new force at 154 pounds. This was his first try at a
"I’m so emotional in this
moment right now," Rosario said. "I came prepared. I knew before the
fight that I was going to win it. Thanks to Philadelphia and to
Julian Williams. Without this opportunity I wouldn’t be champion
For Williams, 27-2-1, 16 KOs,
it was a shocker of a loss and a spoiled homecoming that no one saw
"I wasn’t surprised, I kept
telling everybody he was a real fighter. I have to accept it. The
cut blurred my vision a little bit but it wasn’t the reason. He was
the better fighter tonight. We’ve got a rematch clause, and I going
to see him again real soon. I appreciate the support (from the
Philly fans). I'm sorry I couldn't get the win, but I’ll be back."
After his loss to Charlo three
years ago, Williams proved that he could rebuild after defeat. His
title-wining effort against Jarrett Hurd clearly displayed that.
Despite the upset, Williams still has plenty of fights left in him.
A rematch would be a good and telling place to start.
COLBERT TAKES BELT IN SNOOZER
In the twelve-round co-feature
bout, Brooklyn’s Chris Colbert, 14-0, 5 KOs, captured the vacant
interim WBA junior lightweight title belt with a lopsided decision
over Jezreel Corrales of Panama, 23-4, 9 KOs. After nine very slow-moving
rounds that played out in a spray of constant booing from the crowd, the fight finally picked up in round ten. Colbert
dropped Corrales with a left hook-right cross combo, but the fight
continued. In the
eleventh Colbert shoved Corrales completely out of the ring,
prompting referee to Shawn Clark issue a warning. This wasn't state
of the art boxing, but at least it was something to see - unlike the
first nine rounds. The two boxers
closed the fight with an active final round, and Colbert took the
decision by scores of 116-111 and 117-110 twice.
SPENCER WINS BUT FAILS TO IMPRESS
Junior middleweight Joey
Spencer, 10-0, 7 KOs, Linden, MI, pitched a shutout against Reading,
PA’s Erik Spring, 13-4-1, 1 KO, in a six-rounder. Spencer chased
Spring, loading up on every punch he threw, but the fight never
really ignited. Spencer just piled up points and kept pressing.
Finally in the closing seconds, Spencer whacked Spring with a left
hook that staggered him to the ropes. It was the best punch of the
fight and the only time Spencer’s touted power was on display on
this night. It looked like he had Spring, however time ran out and
Spencer had to settle for a points win. The scores were all 60-54
The referee was Eric Dali.
COTA STOPS LAMANNA
Mexican Jorge Cota, 30-4, 27
KOs, stopped Thomas LaManna, 28-3-1, 10 KOs, Millville, NJ, in round
five of their scheduled ten-round junior middleweight contest. Cota
controlled the action and administered a thorough beating while the
lasted. LaManna landed a few clean shots but it wasn’t enough to
stop Cota from chugging forward and landing consistently. As early
as round one, LaManna’s face showed wear and tear, and it only got
worse as the bout progressed. Finally in round five, LaManna’s
corner asked for the stoppage and referee Gary Rosato complied. The
time was 1:22 of the fifth.
MIELNICKI SNAPS KO STREAK
In a four-round welterweight
fight, Vito Mielnicki of Roseland, NJ, 4-0, 3 KOs, was extended to
the limit for the first time as a professional by Preston Wilson of
Parkersburg, WV, 6-4-1, 4 KOs. Although he failed to score his
fourth straight knockout, Mielnicki swept all four rounds and won
the unanimous decision by three scores of 40-36.
CRUZ REMAINS UNBEATEN
Junior featherweight Romuel
Cruz, 4-0-1, halted Julio Garcia, 3-4, 2 KOs, Madison, WI, after two
knockdowns in round one. Cruz, a Philly-based Puerto Rican, first
dropped Garcia with a right uppercut to the chin. Then moments later
scored another knockdown with a right to Garcia’s body. Garcia rose,
but referee Benjy Esteves stopped the scheduled four-rounder at 2:56 of the first
DAVIS IMPRESSIVE IN WIN
Middleweight Kyrone Davis,
15-2, 6 KOs, Wilmington, DE, scored a fourth round TKO over
Atlanta’s Antonio Todd, 7-3, 4 KOs, in their scheduled eight-rounder.
Davis dominated each of the first three rounds before unleashing a
brutal combination along the ropes in the fourth. With Todd trapped
and not answering back, referee Gary Rosato could have stopped the
fight much earlier, but instead gave the wounded fighter the benefit
of the doubt. The slow stoppage only allowed Davis to needlessly
pound Todd some more before Rosato eventually stepped in at the 2:28
mark. Davis looked terrific in the fight.
KROLL HALTS RIVERS
In an all-Philly junior
middleweight bout scheduled for eight rounds, Paul Kroll, 7-0, 6 KOs,
stopped Marcel Rivers, 7-3, 4 KOs, at 49 seconds of round four.
Kroll dropped Rivers with a right in the third, but could not finish
him in that round. However, Kroll took his time and continued to dish out
punishment in the fourth, knocking Rivers down twice more. Finally,
when Kroll, a 2016 Olympian, staggered Rivers with a body shot that
nearly put him down again, referee Benjy Esteves jumped in to stop
the fight. This was the third straight defeat for the once promising
NEELY SCORES FIFTH STRAIGHT KO
Patterson, NJ heavyweight
Norman Neely made it five straight knockouts with a quickie over
journeyman Larry Knight, 4-23-1, 1 KO, of Birmingham, GA. Neely,
5-0, 5 KOs, jumped right out and took control. Then just past the
one minute mark, Neely trapped Knight in a neutral corner and landed
an extended flurry that put him down. Knight remained on all fours
and made no effort to rise as Eric Dali counted him out. The time
was 1:21 of round one.
ROMAN WINS DEBUT
In the show opener, local bantamweight Miguel
Roman made a successful pro debut with a 4-round unanimous
decision over Antonio Lucaine, 0-3, of Mt. Vernon, NY. Roman, 1-0,
scored a knockdown with a left hook in round three, but Lucaine
survived and even won the final round on two of the official
scorecards. Roman won the bout by scores of 40-35 and 39-36 twice.
The referee was Shawn Clark.
GALLEGOS UPSETS LOPEZ IN WALKOUT
In the walkout bout, Chicago
junior lightweight Jose Luis Gallegos, 19-8, 14 KOs, beat Ricky
Lopez, 21-5-1, 6 KOs, Colorado Springs, by unanimous decision over
eight rounds. The scores were 76-75 and 77-74 twice. The fight, an upset in its own right, took place after
Rosario upset Williams.
A large crowd of about 3,800
attended the fight which was promoted by Kings Promotions, TGB
Promotions and Sampson Boxing for Premiere Boxing Champions (PBC).
Six of the bouts were nationally televised live by Fox and Fox