Julian "J-Rock'' Williams has had one world title opportunity and it went about as badly as it could have gone.
Williams got knocked down three times in a fifth-round knockout loss to then-titlist Jermall Charlo in December 2016. But Williams rebounded to win both of his fights in 2017 to get back in position where he can earn another shot at a 154-pound belt.
He will take on Nathaniel Gallimore in a world title elimination fight on April 7 (Showtime, 10 p.m. ET) at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. The winner of the bout will become the mandatory challenger for the belt currently held by Jarrett Hurd.
The card will include two other televised bouts that have already been announced: a junior middleweight world title unification fight between Hurd (21-0, 15 KOs) and Erislandy Lara (25-2-2, 14 KOs); and a rematch between super middleweight titlist Caleb Truax (29-3-2, 18 KOs) and James DeGale (23-2-1, 14 KOs), who lost the belt to Truax by majority decision in a monumental upset on Dec. 9 in DeGale's hometown of London.
Williams (24-1-1, 15 KOs), 27, of Philadelphia, has already heard some trash talk from Gallimore and said he plans to teach him a lesson.
"This is going to be a really good fight on April 7," Williams said. "Gallimore has been talking a big game, but I've got a big chip on my shoulder, and I've been training like it. I think he's going to bring out something different in me.
"He's going to find out that there are different levels to this game. He's a bit of a stalker in the ring and he's been knocking people out. He thinks he's a puncher, but he hasn't really fought the level of competition that I have. I don't care if he's training with Buddy McGirt now, because no one can save him when he's in that ring."
The 29-year-old Gallimore (20-1-1, 17 KOs), a Jamaica native, has won seven fights in a row since his lone defeat, which came by 10-round split decision to Virgilijus Stapulionis in June 2016.
Gallimore's breakout fight was an impressive fifth-round knockout of Justin DeLoach in July. Now he is aiming for an even more significant victory.
"This is going to be my coming-out year," Gallimore said. "This is a huge opportunity to present my skills and my abilities to the world. There's no mistaking why I'm here, and I'll make a statement starting with 'J-Pebbles' Williams. I call him 'J-Pebbles' because he's not a 'J-Rock.' He's an average fighter. There's nothing special about him. The best way he can prepare is to do chin pushups, because I'm going to test his chin and that's the only thing that can protect him.
"I'm going to dismantle him piece-by-piece, round-by-round, and when that time comes to seek and destroy, I'm going to take him out. I'm the one they should be worried about."