Saturday night on FOX, Premier Boxing Champions presents a 154-pound title main event between Julian “J Rock” Williams and Jeison Rosario, plus a step-up fight for 130-pound prospect Chris Colbert against former titleholder Jezzrel Corrales.
Our staffers make their picks for both fights.
Chris Colbert vs Jezzrel Corrales
I like Colbert as a prospect, think he’s got some real skills, but this is a ballsy fight to take. There’s an interim WBA title on the line here, as apparently the organization is getting a little itchy having only a “super world” champion (Leo Santa Cruz, fought on Nov. 23) and “world champion” (Rene Alvarado, also fought on Nov. 23) at the moment.
Corrales is a bold choice for opponent because he doesn’t look washed and he’s a hell of a lot better than anyone Colbert has fought in his first 13 bouts. So you know Colbert’s team are legitimately confident in their fighter’s skills and maturity, otherwise this would not be happening. A big part of me wants to take the vet in this one, because Colbert certainly seems to have some flaws still, but I’m going to trust Colbert’s team and say he’ll edged this one — but I think it’s going to be close, and I think it could be plenty debatable. Colbert MD-12
This is the most intriguing fight for me this weekend as I think it’s the one that has the most question marks. Colbert is a good, young prospect but I think this particular fight could be a dangerous one for him. Corrales is an experienced, crafty veteran who’s been in against much stiffer competition than Colbert has, and add in the fact that Corrales is an awkward southpaw and I’m not quite sure how Colbert will cope. Colbert might be able to establish an effective jab because Corrales keeps his right hand low, but if he can’t I don’t know if his right hand is prolific enough to carry the day. How good is Colbert, exactly?
Well, in this fight I think we find out. Corrales isn’t an easy opponent to look good against and while I sometimes question the pace he fights with, I just have a hunch that he’s going to be a little more than Colbert is prepared for at this stage of his development. I’m going to pick Corrales to edge out a decision over the distance. Corrales UD-12
Patrick L. Stumberg
Terrible knockout percentage aside, Colbert certainly looks the goods. He’s a super-slick, super-skilled switch-hitter, and it’s easy to see why the PBC crew are willing to pit him against a dangerous former champion in Corrales. That’s not to say this isn’t plenty risky, though; Corrales has one of the more unique styles “Prime Time” is likely to face and has some real stopping power in his shifting bombs.
I’m not sure that’s enough for “El Invisible” to score the upset, though. Colbert boasts a four-inch reach advantage and the speed/craft to capitalize on Corrales’ leaky defense. Corrales will have all sorts of trouble forcing his way into the pocket, and his ever-askew balance means he’s likely to hit the deck at least once from the counters coming his way. He makes a fight of it, but ultimately drops a decision in the face of Colbert’s cleaner offense. Colbert UD-12
Colbert is making a step up after going 13 undefeated and it’s looking like he is growing into his power. Comfortable switch-hitting and fighting on the inside and out, “Prime Time” has the tools and the opportunity to make a statement against a former world champ at super-feather. Corrales has had issues getting down to 130 and without real power at the weight may be giving too much away to the prospect. This looks perfect timing for Colbert who can use a victory on Saturday as a real springboard. Colbert KO-8
And the staff winner is...
Chris Colbert (3-1)!
Julian Williams vs Jeison Rosario
I always thought Julian Williams was a good, solid fighter, but nah, I didn’t think he’d beat Jarrett Hurd. But he did. And from the post-fight interview on, everything I’ve seen or heard Williams say made him, to me, one of the most likable fighters in the sport. This is a guy who really just might be fully hitting his stride at 29, and settling in for some big and good fights in the coming years. I do expect a Williams-Hurd rematch if both win their fights this month, and I’ll look forward to it. It was compelling the first time, should be a second time if we get it.
I think Williams wins here. I expect no letdown performance from him, and more than that even if Williams did come out there not at his absolute best, I just don’t think Rosario is good enough to beat him. I wouldn’t have second-guessed picking Williams over Rosario a year ago, let’s put it that way, and Williams’ stock has shot up since then, while Rosario’s has stayed about where it was, making him a fringe contender sort. Rosario does have some pop and is a professional fighter who doesn’t outright stink, so there’s some danger, but I expect Williams and his team to be fully prepared, and I think he’ll break Rosario down and force a late stoppage. Williams TKO-10
The road to redemption must’ve been pretty sweet for Julian Williams. The Philly fighter was highly regarded heading into a late 2016 fight against Jermall Charlo and had all his momentum abruptly stalled with one flush uppercut that ended his night early. Losses like that can be devastating and difficult to recover from, but Williams did exactly that by rattling off four straight wins which led him into a fight against then-unified champion Jarrett Hurd. Most folks liked Hurd to overwhelm Williams because Hurd was rolling at the time, and we had recently seen Williams crumble before. But instead Williams put on an inspired performance of both skill and grit as he picked Hurd apart over 12 rounds.
That fight showed me a lot about Williams character. He’s steady, confident, and is mentally strong enough to keep his composure in trying times. And in a sport as rough and tough as boxing, the mental aspect is crucial. Williams now knows what it’s like to be on top, but I don’t for one second doubt that he’s forgotten what it’s like to be on the bottom and I think that motivates him to walk a narrow path to stay sharp at all times. Against a fighter like Rosario, who is tough but doesn’t have nearly the craft of a Williams, I think that makes the difference. I like Williams by second half stoppage. Williams TKO-9
Patrick L. Stumberg
Jeison Rosario is a perfectly serviceable fighter with wins over decent middle-of-the-pack sorts like Jamontay Clark and Jorge Cota. He just doesn’t appear to have a single standout skill to rely on against a technically superior and far more seasoned foe in Williams. “Banana” has some okay pop in his hands, but nowhere near the firepower of Jarrett Hurd, whom Williams happily engaged at close range for more than half an hour without issue. Rosario isn’t knocking him out and the idea of him outboxing “J-Rock” for 12 rounds is far-fetched.
Rosario has two options: try to box, which he’s not built for, or try the close-quarters battle he wants. The first option means a decision loss, the latter a knockout loss. I expect the latter. Williams’ superior angles and cleaner punching culminate in a later-round stoppage. Williams TKO-8
This feels more like a victory lap/homecoming for “J-Rock” as he returns to Philly to defend his collection of 154 gold. His upset of Hurd last year has catapulted himself into the prime seat of light-middleweights with bigger tests and opportunities to follow assuming he doesn’t slip on “Banana”. This jump looks too soon for Rosario. “J-Rock” secured the titles by walking Hurd down and showing a willingness to trade in the pocket, however, I’m expecting a more measured fight this weekend with Williams using the distance well and attempting to keep Rosario at range in the early stages. The stoppage could come late on, but I see a wide win on the scorecards for the hometown hero. Williams UD-12