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Hurd to face Williams in jr. middleweight defense

Last April, when Jarrett Hurd outpointed Erislandy Lara to unify junior middleweight world titles in the action-packed 2018 fight of the year, 154-pound contender Julian “J Rock” Williams won a decision against Nathaniel Gallimore in a title elimination bout on the undercard, a victory that secured him a mandatory shot at the main event winner.

Since then, Hurd has wanted to have a title defense in his home region of suburban Washington, D.C., and Williams has wanted a chance to challenge for the belts. Now they both are getting what they want.

Hurd will defend his two belts against Williams in the main event of a Premier Boxing Champions card on May 11 (Fox and Fox Deportes, 8 p.m. ET) at the EagleBank Arena in Fairfax, Virginia, a short ride from Hurd’s hometown of Accokeek, Maryland, PBC announced on Thursday.

After Hurd defeated Lara, he had left shoulder surgery and returned to defend his belts in Los Angeles on Dec. 1 on the Deontay Wilder-Tyson Fury pay-per-view undercard, knocking out Jason Welborn in the fourth round.

Williams is a far more difficult opponent, on paper at least, and Hurd (23-0, 16 KOs), 28, is pleased to get his wish of fighting him at home for his fourth title defense.

“I couldn’t be happier to be fighting at home for the first time as a champion,” Hurd said. “My hometown has been asking me to bring the championship back home, and now I can. Julian Williams is a tough opponent, and I don’t see him as a stepping stone. He’s crafty, technical and fundamentally sound. I want to go out and get a decisive win and show that I’m on a different level than everybody else in the division.”

Hurd has not fought in his home region since scoring a first-round knockout of Terry Cade in a scheduled six-round bout at Constitution Hall in Washington in November 2014.

Williams (26-1-1, 16 KOs), 28, of Philadelphia, got an opportunity to fight for a junior middleweight world title in December 2016 in Los Angeles and suffered a one-sided fifth-round knockout loss to then-titlist Jermall Charlo. Williams has won four fights in a row since, including against former world titlist Ishe Smith and the eliminator against Gallimore.

“Jarrett Hurd is a good, strong fighter that’s really hot right now,” Williams said. “This is a hometown fight for him, but Philly isn’t that far from Virginia. I’m looking forward to putting on an exciting fight for all of the fans on Fox, and most importantly winning those titles and showing the world that I am the best in the 154-pound division.”

Two 10-round fights were also announced for the broadcast:

• Junior welterweight up-and-comer Mario Barrios (23-0, 15 KOs), 23, of San Antonio, will take on Argentina’s Juan Jose Velasco (20-1, 12 KOs), 31. Velasco suffered his lone defeat in his last fight, when top contender Regis Prograis stopped him in the eighth round in July.

• Middleweight contender Matt Korobov (28-2, 14 KOs), 36, a former Russian Olympian now living in Saint Petersburg, Florida, will face Immanuwel Aleem (28-1-1, 22 KOs), 25, of Richmond, Virginia. In his last fight on Dec. 22, in the main event of the first card of the new PBC/Fox rights deal, Korobov challenged interim middleweight world titlist Charlo and lost a unanimous decision that was very competitive. Aleem suffered his only loss by hard third-round knockout to Hugo Centeno Jr. in August 2017 but has won his only fight since, a sixth-round stoppage of journeyman Juan De Angel in May.

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