Williams prepping for showdown with Hurd

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Julian Williams looks headed for a title shot, and his trainer Stephen Edwards sounds ready for the clash.

Summer time is closer than you think, and those May flowers will come with them a tasty face off between two young guns in the junior middleweight division.

The beastly Jarrett Hurd (23-0; age 28) — and we mean that with humble respect — takes on Julian “J Rock” Williams on May 11, site TBA, with Brooklyn’s Barclays Center in the lead as staging ground.

I chatted with Williams’ trainer, the superbly insightful Stephen “Breadman” Edwards, to get a sense on how he and the fighter see this challenge.

First off: is this a must win for the 28-year-old Philly fighter Williams, who holds a 26-1-1 mark? He’s on a four-fight win streak since dropping an outing to Jermall Charlo in 2016. That includes a decision win over Ishe Smith in November 2017.

“It’s not a ‘must win,’ I don’t think anything is ‘must anything,’ the only thing guaranteed in life is death,” Edwards told me. “This is already at a high level in this sport, there’s already enough pressure. If Julian doesn’t win, his kids don’t look at him any different!”

Very solid perspective check from the cerebral tutor.

”You got to compartmentalize as you get more experienced,” he continued. “Julian has to be in shape and he’s gotta perform.”

Is this a 50-50 fight?

“Everybody thinks Hurd is a beast, let’s keep that same energy, say it’s 70-30 on paper. We’ll see on May 11, see if he is all they say he is,” said the trainer.

“Hurd’s a helluva fighter, has got unbelievable conditioning, a tremendous chin, he’s more athletic than people realize. He’s great impromptu in the ring, he can change style. He’s got decent boxing ability — he gets outboxed a lot, but he has that adaptive ability, he will just turn into a monster. He’s like a black Margarito! He has that ability to adjust. He tries to box, it never really works for him, but he’s got a good IQ, he starts losing rounds then changes his game, turns into an animal. Then he just sticks their head under the water.

“He’s got a great team, he’s got great confidence, so we’ll see May 11! I think they both deserve props for taking this fight. We wanted it, they had no problem taking the fight. A lot of guys act like they wanna fight, but they really don’t. This is not an easy title defense, and it’s not an easy title shot. We probably could have sat a year or two, gone after someone else, a Munguia. But at 28, Julian can’t be waiting around.”

And the trainer finished off with a superlative bit of philosophy which should be printed on t-shirts and given out to everyone who allows others’ perception of them bring them down.

”You can’t allow other peoples’ opinion of you to affect you opinion of yourself,” Edwards said.

We left it there, but that brings up some intriguing thoughts. Williams’ lone loss came via stoppage, in his young gun vs young gun face off against Jermall Charlo, a bout that served to heavily elevate big bro Charlo. Williams and Charlo took a risk and the bounty went to Charlo. And so Williams soldiers on, and is in against a very highly-regarded pugilist who is seen by most as a terminator type, someone who you need a Louisville slugger AND a sneak attack to drop.

Hurd, holder of the IBF and WBA straps, is a massive 154 and so yes, Williams is on paper the underdog. But this is THE sport to remind us citizens that underdogs have a place in this society. Sounds like J Rock has the right sort of motivator in his corner heading toward this stiff test.

Listen to Woods’ Everlast podcast if you like.

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