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Ishe Smith vs. Julian Williams – Analysis and prediction

By Stanley White: Former junior middleweight title challenger Julian “J-Rock” Williams (23-1-1, 15 KOs) will be fighting tonight against former 154lb. world champion Ishe Smith (29-8, 12 KOs) in a scheduled 10 round fight on Premier Boxing Champions on Bounce at The Chelsea at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, in Las Vegas, Nevada.

(Photo credit: Chris Farina/Mayweather Promotions)

This is a must win fight for both fighters. The 39-year-old Smith cannot afford to lose to Williams at this point if he wants to get a crack at one of the champions in the junior middleweight division. Smith has won his last 2 fights since losing a 10 round majority decision to Vanes Martirosyan on September 12, 2015.

Smith has since picked up wins over Tommy Rainone (24-6-1) and Frank Galarza (17-1-2) to get him to where he is now about to fight a very dangerous Julian Williams on live TV. Things haven’t gone well for Smith since 2013, though, as he’s lost to Carlos Molina and Erislandy Lara. The only wins he’s had have come against beatable fighters, and not the truly talented guys in the 154lb. division.

Williams, 27, the far younger fighter compared to the nearly 40-year-old Ishe Smith, is still coming back from his disappointing 5th round knockout loss to former IBF junior middleweight champion Jermall Charlo last year on December 10 in Los Angeles, California. Williams came out slugging against Charlo, and he paid a heavy price in getting dropped 3 times in the fight before the match was halted in round 5. In hindsight, Williams should have boxed Charlo the way Austin Trout did. Charlo was struggling with making weight for the 154lb. division, and Williams would have had a better chance to win if he’d taken the fight into the later rounds.

Williams is ranked #4 WBC, #8 IBF and #13 WBO at junior middleweight. If he can beat smith tonight, it should put him up higher in all the rankings so that he can potentially get a title shot soon. Williams would stand a better chance against IBF champion Jarrett Hurd than with WBC champ Jermell Charlo, who is looking very hard to beat right now.

“Training with Golovkin was a great experience,” said Williams. ”To get to shadow a top five fighter in the world, to see how he moves, to see the kind of work he puts in and the exercises he does, it was very valuable. He gave me some pointers and helped me out so overall it was great.”

Working as a sparring partner for Golovkin should help Williams for tonight’s fight against Ishe Smith. Hopefully for Williams’ sake, he learned something from his training with GGG, because he needs to be a little more tactical in his fights and less in a hurry to slug it out. Williams has a good jab, and nice boxing skills when he uses them. He needs to have a game plan for his fights, given that he gets hit too much when he slugs.

Williams can win most of his fights by just using his power to steamroll his weaker opposition, but he’s not going to be able to do that to everyone in the junior middleweight division. William can probably blow through Ishe Smith tonight by just slugging, but it would be better for him to use the fight as practice to get him ready for the tougher matches against the likes of Jermell Charlo, Erislandy Lara and Jarrett Hurd. Those are the guys that Williams will need to be smart for him to beat. Hurd is one of those guys that will try and force Williams to use up all his energy in the early rounds so that he can walk him down late and stop him. With Charlo and Lara, they would set traps for Williams and look to take him out with some big shots.

Williams will need to be clever to beat those type of fighters when/if he faces them. If Williams loses tonight against Ishe Smith, then he can forget about fighting for a world title anytime soon. He would need to continue rebuilding his career.

As big as the 5’11” Williams is, he probably needs to think about moving up to middleweight soon. It’s got to be tough on Williams for him to drain down from the 170s to make weight each time for the 154lb. division. It’s unclear why Williams is putting himself through this ordeal. If he moved up in weight to 160, he’d be stronger and he would be in position to get big money fights against the likes of Gennady Golovkin and Saul Canelo Alvarez.

Williams looked good in his last fight in stopping Joshua Conley (14-1-1) in the 7th round on June 30 in Toledo, Ohio. That was Williams’ first fight back since his loss to Jermall Charlo last year, and he was impressive throughout the fight. That’s the kind of performance that the Philadelphia native Williams needs tonight when he gets inside the ring with Smith. He’s got to be able to box and punch equally rather than just looking to end the fight right away by throwing bombs.

“I just got a little impatient with Charlo,” said Williams. “Even the second-round knockdown, I got up and I thought I did enough to make that an even round. Then I got impatient, got caught and I paid the price. This is one of those times though that I think some good can come from a loss. It taught me to be a more patient and smarter fighter.”

Williams will need to be smart for him to beat the wily veteran Smith tonight. Smith has been around the sport for a long time since turning pro in 2000. He’s been in the ring with guys like Sergio Mora, Sechew Powell, Joel Julio, Daniel Jacobs, Fernando Guerrero, Pawel Wolak, Anthony Bonsante, Carlos Molina, Vanes Martirosyan and Cornelius Bundrage. Not all of those fighters are good fighters, but each of them had their moments over the years. Smith did well against most of them.


Williams will have too much size, youth and power for Smith to deal with him tonight. Smith will be at his best in the early rounds, but once Williams gets his offense at full speed, he’s going to run him over. Williams is on another level right now than the aging Smith. I see Williams winning a fairly one-sided 10 round unanimous decision. He won’t knock Smith out, because he’s a smart veteran, who knows how to survive. Once Smith tastes Williams’ power early on, he’ll go into survival mode and focus on going the distance.

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