By Agence France-Presse
Dominican challenger Jeison Rosario won the World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation super welterweight titles Saturday, stopping hometown hero Julian Williams in the fifth round.
Rosario landed a staggering right hand and followed with a flurry of punches before Williams fell to the canvas. He rose only to be hammered by a right uppercut and left hook before referee Benjy Esteves stopped the fight 97 seconds into round five.
Rosario was tearful as he was handed the championship belts.
“I’ve got to keep crying because I’m so emotional in this moment,” he said.
The showdown at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was the first defense for Williams (27-2 with one drawn) of the 154-pound (69.9kg) crowns he took from American Jarrett Hurd by unanimous decision last May.
Rosario, in his first world title bout, improved to 20-1-1 with his 14th victory inside the distance. It was his sixth win in a row and he improved to 8-0 with a draw since his lone loss in 2017.
“When I lost my last fight I said I wasn’t going to lose again until I am world champion,” Rosario said. “And I’ve done it.”
Rosario, 24, opened a cut over the left eye of Williams, 29, with a left jab early in the second round, the gash nagging the champion throughout the fight as toe-to-toe exchanges of hard punches continued.
“It blurred my vision a little bit,” Williams said of the cut. “But that wasn’t the reason why. He was the better fighter tonight.”
In the fifth, Williams was staggered early in the round, taking a dozen blows against the ropes before falling face first to the canvas.
After Esteves allowed the fight to continue, Williams landed his powerful uppercut and Williams slumped back against the ropes, prompting Esteves to stop the fight.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t get the win but I’ll be back,” Williams told his hometown supporters, noting he had a rematch clause in the fight contract.
“We’ll see if we can get it real soon.”