By Ryan Burton
On May 11th Julian “J Rock” Williams shocked the boxing world with a unanimous decision victory over Jarrett “Swift” Hurd. Williams was a 5-1 underdog in the fight that took place in Hurd’s backyard. In this Q&A Williams’ trainer Stephen “Breadman” Edwards reflects on the win and discusses the contractually obligated rematch that will take place later this year.
BoxingScene.com: Now that some time has passed and you have had a chance to reflect on it, what are your thoughts on Julian’s big upset win?
Stephen Edwards: Tremendous performance it was a great night for both of us but he can do better. There are things we can improve on. But I’m very happy he was able to take the title away from a really good fighter in his hometown. That was a helluva way to win your first title.
BoxingScene.com: The news broke recently that Hurd has decided to leave his long time trainer. A lot of fighters get new trainers or make changes to their team after a loss. What do you think of Jarrett getting new coaches?
Stephen Edwards: I really don’t have an opinion on it. I like Jarrett and his team, they were really cool towards us in DC. There was no disrespect whatsoever. But whatever he decides he decides. We have to worry about us. There are some advantages and disadvantages in changing trainers. We will have to see how he adjust after a loss.
BoxingScene.com: Hurd has always had the same style. In your opinion what changes can a new team make in just one training camp while trying to prepare him for a rematch?
Stephen Edwards: I don’t think Jarrett has always had the same style. He boxed more versus Frank Galarza and Javier Molina. He just turns into a dog when the boxing doesn’t work. But to answer you that is a problem him and his new trainer have to figure out. From what I heard he exercised his rematch clause so he must be confident. I was going to address the rematch issue because we won an eliminator versus Nathaniel Gallimore and we should have been the mandatory and mandatories don’t have to give rematch clauses but I’m not going to sweat it, there are bigger issues to address and negotiate. I’m confident in our chances. We have our chemistry with the same team. It also depends on who the new trainer is and how easy Jarrett picks up his style of training. I’m looking forward to the challenge no matter who it is.
BoxingScene.com: Is there any update as to when and where the rematch will take place?
Stephen Edwards: It should take place in November. If I remember correctly we have to fight within 6 months of our last fight.
BoxingScene.com: With Harrison’s unfortunate injury, his rematch versus Charlo won’t take place till later in the year so likely a unification bout for you guys won’t be possible until the first quarter of 2020 at the earliest. What do you think about this development and the division in general?
Stephen Edwards: That’s a bummer but Tony has to do what’s best for him and his career. I really wanted Jul to fight the winner of Harrison versus Charlo. That would have been huge considering the belts would be on the line and most likely the RING belt as well. I don’t have confidence we will ever get to fight for the WBO belt because Jaime Munguia holds it and business wise it just wouldn’t make sense for his people to risk him with PBC fighters. I hope I’m wrong but that’s just how this business works. However I would love to match him with Munguia or the winner of Harrison versus Charlo as soon as possible.
Overall I think junior middleweight, light heavyweight, heavyweight and welterweight are the best divisions in boxing. 154 is really stacked and I’m familiar with all of the fighters. Jul is #1 now that he beat Jarrett but Jarrett has 3 huge wins over Lara who’s still a player, Harrison who’s a champion and Trout. You have Jermell Charlo who’s a serious force. Erickson Lubin is younger than everyone else so that’s an advantage. Brian Castano and Michel Soro are both very skilled. And you have the kid with Top Rank Carlos Adames who can bump. I have to keep my eye out for that kid, he’s coming. Also Errol Spence is a big welterweight and one day he will move up. There are about 8 or 9 guys who can beat each other if they are on their games that night.
BoxingScene.com: How has life in Philly changed since the win? Julian has always been popular but now you guys are unified champs. How have things changed?
Stephen Edwards: He has more interviews and appearance obligations but other than that Jul is not a big partier. He never had an entourage. Just his trainers and his dad. I wouldn’t allow a lot of people around me anyway, that’s nerve wracking. His tax bracket obviously changes and that’s a great thing. But for me nothing has really changed. I still have to stay on him and make sure he doesn’t get out of shape. My job is never stops.
BoxingScene.com: We also saw that you guys will require at least 3 months of VADA testing prior to any fight for all of your opponents. Do you anticipate it being harder for you guys to get the fights you want?
Stephen Edwards: Good question. I don’t know the answer to that. We fought Jarrett in May. I didn’t negotiate much for the fight but I contacted his old coach Ernesto personally and asked him about VADA. I did this in February and I also personally contacted VADA and signed up early. If they would have said no or balked in any way there would have been no fight. You fight your whole career to get into this position of the A side. Julian doesn’t have a WBC belt but we still do the Clean Testing Program which can test you any time any where. And we do extra testing and pay for VADA like we did with Jarrett. Anybody who’s not down with that won’t be fighting Julian Williams.
There is a trick in boxing where fights get announced at the last minute but fighters know who they will fight for months. Then they start testing after the fight gets announced. Most times if you’re doing something wrong it’s too late to detect. If us asking for 3 or more months of testing cuts down our opponents list than so be it. A clean fighter doesn’t need a special date to start testing. We all saw what happened when Golovkin’s team asked for early testing versus Canelo. We all see how often Deontay Wilder catches his opponents. The earlier you test the safer the sport is.
BoxingScene.com: Is there anything else you would like to mention?
Stephen Edwards: Being involved during the moment is different than watching it on TV. Once I got home and studied the fight I realized how good of a fight it was. J Rock and Jarrett really put on a great show. That’s one of the best fights in the division in years. I think it was better than Jarrett and Lara. I hope those kids get the recognition they deserve. Not often are two Black American fighters involved in the fight of the year. It’s really rare if you think about it because most of the Black kids box and move more. J Rock and Jarrett were thumping. Great fight!
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