Shock Upset! Rosario dethrones J-Rock

By Robert Ecksel on January 19, 2020

Rosario took it to an extreme. He trained for 16 weeks—and it paid off. (TrappFotos)

Saturday night at the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in a shock upset televised live on PBC on FOX and FOX Deportes, Julian "J-Rock" Williams (27-2-1, 16 KOs), the reigning and defending WBA/IBF/IBO super welterweight champion from Philly, was dethroned by Jeison Rosario (20-1-1, 14 KOs), the 30:1 underdog from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, at 1:37 of round five of a scheduled 12-rounder.  

 

Fighting out of the blue corner in animal skin trunks, twenty-nine-year-old Rosario is at or near his fighting prime. A skilled, intelligent, disciplined, principled hard-hitting fighter, J-Rock's stock surged when he dropped and defeated thought to be indestructible Jarrett Hurd via unanimous decision to win the titles in May 2019. In his first defense of his belts, Williams brought it all back home to the City of Brotherly Love Saturday night, yet left empty-handed.

 

Fighting out of the red corner in red trunks with white trim, Rosario was up for this bout. His only loss dates back to 2017 and he has gone 8-0-1 since then. Sharpening his skills, upping the level of competition along the way to prepare him for the first elite fighter he’ll have faced in his career, the 24-year-old Dominican living in Miami proved up to the task. It came crashing down for the Philly fighter when Rosario drew first blood in the second round with a punch that caused a gash on the champion’s left eyelid. “J-Rick” pawed at it throughout the fight. He lost his game and never got it back.

 

After the fight Rosario said, overcome with tears of joy, “I'm so emotional in this moment right now. When I lost my fight [in 2017] I said I will never lose again until I become champion of the world and that's what happened tonight. I came prepared. I knew before the fight that I was going to win it.”

 

Being prepared is one thing. Rosario took it to an extreme. He trained for 16 weeks—and it paid off.

 

“I knew it.” said Sampson Lewkowicz, Rosario's promoter, in an understandably celebratory mood. “It is no surprise for me. I said to everyone before the fight that we will win by KO before the sixth round and that is exactly what happened. Anytime he wants a rematch, we will honor [his contractual rematch option]."

 

“J-Rock” got off to a nice start in round one. He countered a lazy Rosario jab with a big right 45 seconds in that got Rosario’s attention. Williams looked sharp, composed, sound fundamentals. Setting the pace, controlling the action, he was more proficient than the challenger. He threw and landed more. His punches were sharper, his strategy more precise. He looked like a way better fighter than Rosario.

 

That changed dramatically in round two. As soon as he was cut by that punch, the fight abandoned him. It wasn’t the worse cut known to man. But it was on the eyelid, a bad place. There would be bleeding. It would only get worse as the fight progressed. Williams had a good cut man, the best in the business; but the bleeding had a life all its own.

 

With the tide having turned in Rosario’s favor, he punched his way to a 39-37 advantage on two of the three scorecards going into the fatal fifth round. One judge had it even. Williams tried to fight back, with limited results and diminishing reserves. He got staggered by a big right hand. He was hurt. The champion tried to clinch, to grab onto the challenger. He couldn’t do it. He fell to the canvas. “J-Rock” beat the count. Rosario resumed the beatdown. He landed a right uppercut that bounced “J-Rock” off the ropes. His eyes rolled into his forehead. He was a sitting duck. Referee Benjy Esteves waved it off. It was a perfect stoppage.

 

The hometown crowd didn’t agree. They expressed their displeasure by howling. They pelted the ring with garbage. It was cinematic. It was must-watch TV. But it didn’t obscure the fact that the referee did “J-Rock” Williams a big a favor by stopping it when he did.

 

“I wasn't surprised he was so good,” said Williams after the bout. “I told everybody he's a real fighter. I have to accept it. 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.”

 

According to CompuBox, Rosario connected with 65 of 286 punches (23%) to 58 of 239 (24%) for Rosario. But Rosario upped the ante when it mattered, outlanding “J-Rock” 17-6 in the fifth and final round.