By Ryan Burton
In this Q&A, the trainer of newly crowned WBA/IBF super welterweight champion Julian “J Rock” Williams discusses a variety of topics after Williams’ big victory over former unified champion Jarrett Hurd on Fox. Stephen “Breadman” Edwards talks about the strategy employed in the fight, a potential rematch and more.
BoxingScene.com: First off congrats on the victory. This obviously was your biggest victory as a trainer and Julian’s as a fighter. We saw his reaction right after the fight but what was going through your head? What were you feeling?
Stephen Edwards: Thank you. I don’t really remember what was going through my head. I was really zoned out. My kids told me I cried. I didn’t even remember man. But I’m not ashamed. I never cry over physical pain, ever. But I will cry over greatness and moving moments. And that performance, given the circumstances, moved me man. I was proud of my guy. If he does something great like that again, I may go there again.
BoxingScene.com: Talk about the game plan. Julian got off to a strong start and dominated the in-fighting. How confident were you that he could control the fight on the inside?
Stephen Edwards: We may have to fight Jarrett again so I won’t get into too much technical stuff. But I observe things from a different angle and there are technical things you work on and then there are concepts and mindsets you attack. And I noticed how infatuated Jarrett was about his size and late round stamina. He gets on his tippy toes to show he’s bigger than Julian. He talks about how he starts slow but he finishes strong. So we took his infatuations away from him. He was bigger but he wasn’t stronger. And he’s good in the late rounds but Julian was stronger down the stretch. Julian executed everything perfectly. J Rock was at his best when his best was needed. Hugo Centeno was Julian’s tough prospect, a 50/50 fight. And we noticed that he would say how much of a reach advantage he had and how good his jab was. So we out jabbed him and it really messed him up. I reminded Julian of that during this camp and we agreed to take away what Jarrett thought to be his biggest advantages.
BoxingScene.com: The Fox broadcast team mentioned that Hurd was as a large as a 8.5-1 favorite over Julian. I know you’re a betting man. What did you think of those odds? How did you guys use them as motivation.
Stephen Edwards: I didn’t mind the odds but let’s just say a lot of players that ride with me, made a lot of money. Julian was offended by them and that’s a good thing. At this level everyone can fight. But motivation to keep grinding through camp is what’s needed. Julian doesn’t bet but he kept asking me what the odds were and I kept telling him nobody thinks you can win, they’re shitting all over you. And he would just be quiet and look off in a determined stare. I hope he’s a 8 to 1 dog against everyone for the rest of his career.
BoxingScene.com: You also mentioned on social media that Hurd accepted VADA testing they started 3 months before the fight. Were you satisfied with the amount of times both sides were tested?
Stephen Edwards: Yes I want to commend Team Hurd for accepting the testing. They were sportsmen about it. They didn’t get offended as far as I know. I learned from a mistake I made in the past and I personally reached out to VADA and told them I wanted testing for this fight, I didn’t wait for it to be handled for us. I told them I didn’t want to do the standard 8 week camp testing, we wanted more. Then I found Hurd’s trainer on Twitter and I inboxed him and I asked him could we start early. He responded like a gentleman and we got the ball rolling. If they would have delayed anything or bulked at my suggestions there would have been no fight. I’m never letting Julian take another fight without any testing. At this level you need advanced testing and honestly there shouldn’t be a special start date. If you’re clean, once the fight is agreed to then random testing should begin.
BoxingScene.com: Now that you had a chance to watch the broadcast of the fight what did you think of the commentary? When the fight ended the Fox broadcast team made it seem like the fight could go either way and even from ringside ESPN had Hurd as a 1 point winner while most of the people I spoke to had Williams winning the fight by at least 3 points.
Stephen Edwards: First off I want to thank Fox for allowing us to be on such a big platform, hopefully they will have us back. I understand that boxing is a business and Jarrett was the A side. He was actually a promoter on the card under SWIFT Promotions. So I get it. But I did hear some things that I didn’t think were fair and inaccurate. But first let me say that Heidi Androl, Lennox Lewis and Joe Goossen from what I heard were fair towards us and I appreciate that a lot. I’ve been watching Lennox and Joe since I was a kid and it was a pleasure to get to meet them.
But honestly I did hear some things that offended me but you have to be able to roll with he punches in this business. A few months before the fight at the press conference I heard an interview with Ray Mancini who works for Fox and he said that Jarrett was his favorite fighter from the PBC and he was going to beat Julian. I thought to myself dam I hope Julian doesn’t hear Mancini’s comments, he won’t want to fight on the network. Then during the actual fight broadcast I looked at the punch stats as they were going and I noticed they were off. They simply weren’t counting Julian’s punches. Then I heard Lennox try to tell one of the other announcers that Julian and Jarrett both had 16 KOs and they both could punch. Lennox was being objective and the announcer replied but Julian had been knocked out twice and he kept saying it throughout the broadcast despite it not being true. Not only was that inaccurate but I thought it was an attempt to lay the ground work for what he thought was going to happen instead of what was happening. A few rounds later during the broadcast someone else started commentating and they said that Jarrett would overwhelm Julian late and he was too strong. Joe Goossen kept trying to tell them Julian was in great shape but they didn’t listen.
The thing about the media is they have to understand that they have an influential platform – especially to casual fans. And it’s just not right to do things like that -especially when the information you’re putting out is inaccurate. But Ryan I know it’s part of the game. And after the Mancini comment I prepared Julian for everything. He was really motivated to not leave doubt in who won this fight. I’m glad the judges got it right.
As far as ESPN I just don’t know what to say. I actually think it’s a shame they had Jarrett winning, especially since Jarrett, his parents and his coaches all said he lost fair and square. I just try to be respectful to everyone in boxing at all times, but that type of scorecard even if it is unofficial is really bad for the sport because it’s too far off from reality. Jarrett didn’t win more than 4 rounds and a few of those were swings. The fight was competitive from an intensity stand point but Julian was clearly winning more rounds. To give Jarrett 7 rounds, you know Ryan I won’t say anything else about that, I’m just going to leave it alone.
BoxingScene.com: I also heard that Julian was a little banged up going into the fight. Can you elaborate on that?
Stephen Edwards: Julian went into this fight with some nagging injuries but he’s been a pro for 9 years. No one goes into a fight 100%. We weren’t going to turn this fight down no matter what. He’s going to get a little scope clean up and it will actually make him better and more dynamic. I hope he’s reading this and goes out and gets the procedure asap.
BoxingScene.com: Hurd has a rematch clause and says he will exercise it. Without going into too much detail how do you expect a rematch to play out. I’m sure you won’t want as the champion for the fight be in his backyard again.
Stephen Edwards: Hurd does have a rematch clause but I don’t think it’s immediate. If he wants a rematch we will honor it. Listen, Hurd may make adjustments, we will have to be better as a team. Julian will have to raise his game as a fighter. Just because you can beat someone once, doesn’t mean you can beat them twice. If Jarrett wants the work again we will train harder and be more prepared.
I would like to fight in Philly but we aren’t the promoters. I would have to talk to Al Haymon and the rest of our team. I was actually thinking about where the rematch could be last night. I said to myself if Hurd wanted us to go back to the DMV area we would have huge leverage as far as money because we are the champion now. So if that were to happen Julian would need to make 5 or 6 times more than he ever made and Jarrett would have to accept a small percentage if he wanted to fight at home again. As of now it’s very early and I don’t know who will be next. I just know the next fight is in November.
BoxingScene.com: Now that Julian has the WBA and IBF titles how interested are you guys in unifying the WBC and WBO titles?
Stephen Edwards: Julian cares about money but he also cares about legacy. It’s my job to keep everything in perspective. I would love for him to get all 4 belts but with Munguia holding the WBO I’m not very optimistic that he would get that fight. Munguia has been struggling lately and no promotional company would put their fighter in with another fighter in a unification when they can just keep it in house and let him fight on the DAZN. Again it’s a business.
As far as the WBC that could be an in house fight and it’s makeable. But we have to see how it plays out. If Jermell beats Tony they may have a trilogy. If Tony wins then it may be next. I don’t know what either of their plans are afterwards. So there are too many things that could happen. We just have to wait and see but it’s definitely something we are interested in. Julian would also like to be the lineal and RING Champion but you can only fight one fight at a time. I have to be smart and check the landscape before we commit to anything at this point.
BoxingScene.com: Anything else you want to say in closing?
Stephen Edwards: Man, I think it was so cool that Damian Lillard and Magic Johnson showed J Rock love on Twitter. I’m a big basketball fan and I thought that was awesome. Lillard actually said before the fight that J Rock may win.
Send questions or comments to [email protected] You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ringsidewriter