Carlos Adames staked a claim to being the best middleweight in the world as he used his heavy hands and a fierce body attack to break down former 154-pound titlist Julian Williams in the main event of a Showtime-televised card from The Armory in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Saturday night.
The stoppage was controversial – referee Mark Nelson stepping in at a point in the ninth round where Williams, although clearly hurt, was covering up and looking to punch back – and Williams’ trainer Stephen “Breadman” Edwards was apoplectic with rage. But although Williams had fought with genuine skill and shown greater resistance than perhaps had been anticipated, he had been second best since the fourth round, when a series of Adames power punches had him rocked and holding on.
To his credit, however, Williams (28-4-1, 16 KOs) started well and showed solid skills and veteran boxing savvy throughout, pivoting off the jab and firing strong combinations to Adames’ head while remaining defensively responsible. Williams’ Achilles heel of late, however, has been his resilience, and while his fast hands and combination punching kept him in the fight, they proved progressively less able to match Adames’ slower but heavier punches. On multiple occasions, Adames (23-1, 18 KOs) appeared to be slowing, only to erupt with a fusillade of heavy blows that steadily drained the strength from Williams.
After a punishing seventh, Williams rebounded well in the eighth while Adames recharged, but another explosion of Adames punches in the ninth opened a cut and clearly hurt Williams, prompting Nelson’s intervention.
“The referee stopped it when I came with two right hands, and if I’d landed another he could have really been hurt,” asserted Adames. “I’m a warrior; I’m going to rest for a second and then we’ll see what’s next.”
“It was a terrible stoppage, but what can I do?” shrugged Williams afterward.
“It was a typical A side stoppage,” complained Edwards. “It was a good fight. He was hurt; I’m not saying he wasn’t hurt. But a fight like this, a man not going down, punches going back and forth. If he’s the killer they say he is, let him finish him.”
In the co-main event, Erickson Lubin rebounded from his 2022 stoppage loss to Sebastian Fundora by knocking out Luis Arias in the fifth round of their junior middleweight contest – although Arias protested, with no small apparent justification, that he had beaten the count administered by referee Zach Young. Arias (20-4-1, 9 KOs) started brightly, attacking Lubin from the opening bell, but by the midway point of the oening frame the contest had already settled into a pattern in which Lubin controlled the action behind a stiff southpaw jab and strong left hands.
In the fifth, a two-punch combination with Arias against the ropes sent Arias stumbing to the canvas, although he immediately began complaining that he was hit on the back of the head. He climbed to his feet when Young counted nine, but Young ruled that he did not do so in time.
“I knew he was hurt, so I just kept pressiing him,” said Lubin (25-2, 18 KOs) afterward. “I hit him with an equilibrium shot. Right to the temple, he went down. He tried to blame it on the back of the head, but he was hitting me in the back of the head all night.”
“It’s part of the game,” said a disappointed Arias afterward. “It’s loud, the referee saw both of us taking shots, he did what he had to do, but I don’t think it was a fair count. But I’ll be back. My career’s always been about reviving myself. I will be back. I will a world champion.”
In the opening bout of the Showtime telecast, previously unbeaten Jade Bornea fought on equal terms with defending IBF 115-pound champion Fernando Martinez until Martinez’s left hooks caused Bornea’s right ear to swell and then explode in a shower of blood at the beginning of round 9. From that point on, it was one-way traffic, as the switch-hitting Bornea (18-1, 12 KOs) struggled to keep Martinez off him and to deal with the gusher of blood from the side of his head until referee Charlie Fitch stepped in to halt the contest at 29 seconds of round 11.
“I definitely saw the injury to the ear. The inflammation was like nothing I’d ever seen before,” said Martinez (15-0, 9 KOs) afterward. “I hit with the left and then it popped, it exploded. I even told the referee that I thought he was really hurt and kept going to try and finish the fight.”