Is Jarrett Hurd ‘Swift’ enough to catch Erislandy Lara?
Perhaps the most overlooked and underrated bout on the 2018 boxing calendar for its first half is the contest tonight at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, in Las Vegas (Showtime, 10 p.m ET/7 p.m PT), where a junior middleweight title unification bout takes place between IBF titlist Jarrett Hurd and WBA beltholder Erislandy Lara.
Yeah, call me a sucker for unification fights (hey, #BeltsMatter). This is not only a high-stakes match-up at 154 but an interesting contrast of styles.
They say styles make fights and, in the past, most styles are nullified by the calculated tactics of the Cuban southpaw. However it says here that, with the aggressive, high-volume attack of the young man from Maryland, this will be a compelling fight, one very similar to Lara’s harrowing experience versus Alfredo Angulo in 2013, in which he hit the deck twice before taming “Perro” with a perfectly-placed left hand that broke his eye socket. It ended the proceedings in the 10th round, with all the momentum on the Mexican’s side at the StubHub Center.
It’s a fight Hurd says he has watched ”at least 50 times” because it sets a template for him and the particular style he employs. (Unfortunately, the rest of the interview I did with “Swift” didn’t record but that segment of my discussion I recall clearly.)
“Lara is a guy who can’t take pressure fighters well. I have some of the best pressure in the game. I’m younger, stronger, taller and longer. He’s not going to be able to run for 12 rounds,” said Hurd at the final press conference. For him, pressure will have to burst Lara’s pipes. “Lara has great discipline in his game plan. No matter if he’s up on the cards or down or anything, he’s not going to switch it up. It’s hard to break a fighter when they’re disciplined like that. We have a plan for everything though and we’re confident that we’ll come up with something that will get us the victory.”
While Hurd is a bit of a slow starter, he finishes his fights with a flourish. In his last two bouts, he overtook Tony Harrison (TKO 9) and Austin Trout back in October (TKO 10) down the stretch with his volume attack. Hurd isn’t afraid to walk through a bit of fire. Lara would be, by far, the biggest scalp on his ledger.
“Lara has been the longest reigning champion and he was on top when I first turned pro. We’ve studied him a lot. I didn’t get into this sport to be anything but number one. Lara is the top guy but, after Saturday night, it’s going to be me,” he stated. When Hurd went to war with Trout, on the same card, Lara simply and systematically dissected Terrell Gausha over 12 rounds, much to the displeasure of the crowd at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, which treated this main event as a walk-out bout after several rounds.
Afterward, this bout was consummated and it was one that had been percolating for awhile.
“It’s been a great training camp. We’re well-prepared. This is the fight I’ve been asking for. After I beat Tony Harrison, Erislandy Lara had some words on Twitter for me. So I’ve wanted the fight since then. Somebody has to pay for that,” stated Hurd, who believes that, at age 27, this opportunity is coming at the perfect time. “This fight is coming at the right time for me because my confidence is very high right now. He’s a little older, so I’ll be the younger and fresher fighter. I just feel like it’s my time. I’m going to be relentless. I’m not stopping until I get what I want.”
While Hurd is in his physical prime, Lara is 34 years old. Age could absolutely a factor. There’s a fine line between experience and corrosion. It will be Hurd’s job to quicken the pace and turn the tactical game of chess into a two-fisted version of checkers.
Hurd says, “Lara is a veteran with a lot of experience. He knows how to win rounds and he can make you look bad, no matter how good you are. I’m going to use my own awkward style and do what I do best.”
This, of course, is easier said than done, when you have a boxer with the ring IQ of Lara in the opposite corner. So can his skill be overcome by Hurd’s will?
“With my power and skill set, I can stop any fighter in the division. That definitely includes Erislandy Lara,” he insists.
You gotta hand it to Conor McGregor; he sure knows how to promote an event – even the ones he’s not on…Some disturbing news on light heavyweight contender Marcus Browne, who the New York Daily News is reporting has been arrested twice recently for domestic violence. He was reportedly in line to face WBO champion Sergey Kovalev in the summer…Great to see The Shops at Montebello (formerly The Town Center) thriving. “The Dead Mall Series” on YouTube will never do an episode here. I went there to buy new workout shorts and I have to say it’s difficult finding a pair that are a bit baggy. Why are shorts so short nowadays?…I can be reached at email@example.com and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.