For quite some time, Carl Moretti, the Vice President of the New Jersey-based promotional firm Main Events, had been hearing about Joel Julio, a teenaged welterweight sensation from Monteria, Colombia, who was described to him as being a genuine blue-chip prospect.
“After all that I’d read and heard about Joel, I had to see him,” said Moretti, who has seen no shortage of cant-miss prospects miss the boat once they moved up their level of competition. “I watched a tape of Joel against Antonio Soriano in a bout that took place in a small casino off the [Las Vegas] Strip. He destroyed Soriano, who was no stiff, in three rounds. Looking at the big picture, it wasn’t who Julio had beaten; it was how he was beating everyone in devastating fashion.”
The Soriano bout took place at the Plaza Hotel & Casino in November 2004. Shortly afterwards Moretti contacted Julio’s advisor, the Miami-based Tuto Zabala Jr., and expressed his interest in working with the young prospect. The 20-year-old Julio is now solely promoted by Main Events, which has kept him busy since April 2005. Julio, whose record now stands at 24-0 (21 KOs), won all three fights he had with Main Events by knockout.
The one that impressed Moretti the most was his stunning third round stoppage of Carlos Vilches in Miami in April. Just ten months earlier, Vilches had been somewhat competitive in losing a 12 round decision to current IBF junior welterweight champion Ricky Hatton in Hatton’s hometown of Manchester, England.
“I always take big punchers with a grain of salt, because so many of them are one dimensional,” said Moretti. “In Joel’s case, I looked at the  fights he had in Colombia and, from an experience standpoint, cut them in half. The chances are that they meant nothing. But this kid is legitimate. Physically, he looks a lot like Miguel Cotto and he is as good an offensive fighter as I’ve seen come around in a long while.”
In August Julio took on useful veteran Christopher Henry in Rosemont, Illinois. Applying his trademark pressure and proficient two-fisted attack, he bounced Henry off the canvas several times before registering an impressive fourth round TKO. That fight is now on a tape that Main Events is distributing to the media to show what a bonafide prospect he is.
“Henry was in shape and came to fight,” said Moretti. “He’s a tall, rangy guy with lots of experience. I’d take three more of those kinds of fights in a minute.”
After viewing a tape of that fight, HBO color commentator Larry Merchant was quoted by writer Dan Rafael as saying Julio is “the best young fighter to come along since Miguel Cotto emerged after the 2000 Olympics.”
Although Julio, who started boxing at age nine, does not have any Olympic pedigree, he reportedly was 85-0 as an amateur and was a two-time national champion in his native country. He is also a high school graduate whose mother is the former secretary of the governor of his hometown. His father, Felipe, was a Miami-based journeyman lightweight who compiled an 11-12-1 (9 KOs) record between 1979 and 1990. Among the recognizable names Felipe competed against are Darryl Tyson, Tracy Spann and Gert Bo Jacobsen.
As an amateur the younger Julio learned not only to win, but perhaps more importantly, to do so in entertaining fashion. As disciplined and calculated as his offensive arsenal is, he fights every minute of every round as if he is fighting for his survival.
“Because Joel is such a hard puncher and applies such relentless pressure, he is very entertaining to watch,” said Main Events publicist Donald Tremblay. “He’s been working in [Vero Beach] Florida with [trainer] Buddy McGirt and has shown real championship potential.”
What’s more, says Moretti, Julio has displayed a maturity level that belies his youthfulness. Besides being even keeled, well-mannered, and physically and emotionally well-developed, he is a tireless worker in the gym and is always cognizant of the sacrifices necessary to be successful in such a challenging and dangerous vocation.
“He does all that is asked of him—and more,” said Moretti. “He doesn’t have to be pampered. He is an eager learner and willing to mix it up with anyone in the gym. He’s even gotten in the ring with Antonio Tarver.”
Right now, adds Moretti, the most important ingredient for continued success is to keep Julio busy and to Americanize his style a bit. While he doesn’t want to try and fix what’s not broken, he thinks Julio needs to become a little more well-rounded before he goes after the stalwarts of his division.
“Network executives are very interested in Joel,” said Moretti. “I don’t see how they couldn’t be. As good as he is, he’s still a work in progress. He gets better and better by the day, but with tough guys like Zab Judah and Antonio Margarito down the road I want to make sure he’s ready for anything. He’s only 20, so there’s lots of time for him to learn even more. A few more good learning experiences, and he just might be unbeatable.”