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Julian Williams to face Marcello Matano in title elimination bout

Junior middleweight contender Julian "J Rock" Williams will get the world title shot he has longed for if he can win his next fight.

Williams will face Marcello Matano in a title elimination bout on March 5 at the Sands Casino in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The fight, announced Wednesday, will headline a Showtime-televised tripleheader (10 p.m. ET/PT).

"This upcoming fight will be the biggest fight of my career," Williams said. "I'm chomping at the bit to get back out there. I am taking my opponent very seriously, and I refuse to let Marcello Matano stop me from being a world champion."

The winner of the fight will become the mandatory challenger for 154-pound world titleholder Jermall Charlo (23-0, 18 KOs), who won the belt by knocking out Cornelius "K9" Bundrage in September and then stopped massive underdog "Silky" Wilky Campfort in the fourth round in his first defense on Nov. 28.

Williams (21-0-1, 13 KOs), 25, of Philadelphia, is coming off a first-round knockout of fringe contender Luciano Cuello in September.

Matano (16-1, 5 KOs), 29, of Italy, is as obscure an opponent as could be. He has never fought outside of Italy and never faced anyone close to being a serious contender, although he has won four fights in a row since a ninth-round knockout loss to Felice Moncelli (8-3-1 at the time) in September 2014.

"This is a dream come true," Matano said. "I've been working for my whole life for a real opportunity to make it to the top level, and I will not let Julian Williams take it away. What will happen when Williams has to go to the championship rounds? Will he be ready? I know for sure that I will. This is the opportunity of a lifetime, and I will do all I can to grab it."

The televised portion of the card will also include two 10-round bouts:

Middleweight Antoine Douglas (19-0-1, 13 KOs), 23, of Burke, Virginia, will fight former world titleholder Sam Soliman (44-13, 18 KOs), 42, of Australia.

"Facing a former world champion like Sam Soliman is a great opportunity for me," Douglas said. "The plan has always been to keep moving forward, and to do it successfully. This is that next step, and I'm ready for it. I've grown and learned so much fighting on (Showtime's prospect series) 'ShoBox,' and it's a beautiful thing to continue to progress and move to the next level."

Soliman lost two fights in a row: a decision that cost him his world title against Jermain Taylor followed by a split decision to unbeaten Dominic Wade in June.

"This is an important fight for me," Soliman said. "I had three opportunities on the table, and I chose Douglas believing it to be a better fight for ranking, and it's a challenge I'm excited to take on. From what I have seen, Douglas is a very talented fighter, which will make for a good fight. I am in great shape and looking forward to fight night."

The opener will pit junior middleweight Tony Harrison (22-1, 18 KOs), 25, of Detroit, against Fernando Guerrero (28-3, 20 KOs), a 29-year-old southpaw from Salisbury, Maryland.

Harrison will be looking for his second win in a row since being stopped in the ninth round by Willie Nelson in an upset in July.

"I'm excited and eager to showcase my abilities to the world again," Harrison said. "I'd advise fans to arrive early because I don't plan to be in the ring long. I'm knocking this guy out. I know Guerrero is coming in with a chip on his shoulder, and I can't overlook him. I'm putting the whole division on notice."

Guerrero has won two fights in a row but is 3-2 in his last five bouts, with both losses coming by knockout, to former middleweight titlist David Lemieux in the third round and to Peter Quillin in the seventh round of a middleweight world title bout.

"It's warrior time," Guerrero said. "We are going to have a war. This is going to be non-stop action. This fight will lead to big things for me. I'm used to fighting guys that are bigger than I am. I'm at my more natural weight and I'm looking to do great things in this division."