It’s rare that Cuban stylist Erislandy Lara is in a particularly entertaining or memorable fight but that’s exactly what he found himself in, on Saturday night, at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, as he faced the hard-charging and relentless “Swift” Jarrett Hurd in Showtime’s main event.
It’s not that Lara wanted to be in one but Hurd simply gave him no choice by pressing the action, with a torrent of leather that came in all directions on the southpaw, who gamely hung in there against a much larger foe.
As the fight headed into the championship rounds, Lara’s right eye was visibly swollen and he was noticeably worn down by the steady attack of the now-thundering Hurd, who, like a snowball, only seems to get stronger and bigger as he rolls downhill. In a dramatic 12th frame, Lara, who was bending, finally broke a bit, as a left hook sent him to the canvas in the final minute of the fight.
He survived to hear the last bell but he got there staggering.
And it turns out that 10-8 round for Hurd was the difference, as he won by the slimmest of margins on two cards (114-113), for a split decision. It says here that Hurd had banked enough rounds before the 12th to earn the decision but, regardless, neither the efforts of Hurd nor Lara should be forgotten anytime soon.
“It was a tough one but I went out there and did exactly what I said I was going to do – fight all 12 rounds and get the victory,” said Hurd, who improved to 22-0 (15). “I didn’t feel like that (I needed the knockdown). I feel like I was in control the whole fight, applying the pressure.”
In many ways, youth was served on this evening but boxing’s newest unified champion stated, “I don’t think it had anything to do with age. I think it was me and the game plan we had to apply the pressure.”
They say pressure busts pipes and it eventually busted up a game Lara. As expected, this clash of styles made for a memorable affair and, once again, Hurd delivered a good fight. I’ve said before that the biggest compliments that can be given to a fighter are A) you’d pay to see him, B) you keep more than a few of his fights on the DVR or C) he becomes appointment viewing when they fight.
Hurd is all three.
Now, as the self-appointed Asian driver of the Hurd Bandwagon (so yeah, fasten your seat belts and hold on), perhaps I’m a tad biased but, going back to when he first burst onto the scene in November of 2015 against Frank Galarza, on “ShoBox,” he has shown consistently that he makes for fun fights. Recently he’s gained this reputation as being the African American version of the “Tijuana Tornado” Antonio Margarito, with his size, stature and pressure he applies. However he’s also as branded as not having “skills,” which is mind-boggling.
It says here that because Hurd actually engages, and therefore will get touched up, he’s not considered “skilled.” Maybe that description is now only reserved for guys who constantly circle the ring or incessantly clinch and spoil on the inside. But isn’t skill really the ability to also hit your opponent constantly and put together combinations while having good fundamental technique? Well, Hurd certainly did that against Lara, who’s never been accused of being all that hittable. Maybe Hurd doesn’t have enough YouTube video’s of him executing 75-punch combinations on the mitts while blindfolded, with the lights off in the gym, or flailing at pool noodles while balancing on only one leg on top of a tire.
But if you go back to his televised bouts, from Galarza to Oscar Molina to JoJo Dan, as his foes initiated the action, Hurd was actually very adept at counterpunching and using their own momentum against themselves.
But starting with his bout against Tony Harrison in February of last year (when he captured the vacant IBF 154-pound title), his opponents have taken a different approach, making Hurd chase them. He’s admitted that becoming a front-foot fighter is something he is still mastering. Against both Harrison and Austin Trout, he had problems early on but he would overwhelm both late, as he adapted and just kept coming.
Anyway you slice it, Hurd always puts on a good show. This is an Abel Sanchez-approved fighter, fan-friendly and entertaining. He is now must-see-TV.
Hurd, now has possession of the IBF and WBA belts and there is a lot of chatter about a showdown with the rambunctious Jermell Charlo, owner of the WBC title, in what would be one of the best pure match-ups in all the sport.
“Swift isn’t ducking anyone,” the native of Maryland insisted. “I’m number one now. We’re calling the shots.”
Julian Williams was simply too seasoned and experiened for Nathaniel Gallimore…The rematch between IBF super middleweight titleholder James DeGale and Caleb Truax was slop. DegGale won but he’s really on the slide…So now Floyd Mayweather Jr. says he wants to send junior lightweight Gervonta Davis in with WBO beltholder Vasyl Lomachenko? Geez, I wonder what that’s all about…This weekend, I’ll be in Salinas calling the action, alongside Beto Duran for Thompson Boxing Promotions…So has anyone made their move on Malik Rosier and the QB job at Miami?…Eagerly anticipating the Andre the Giant doc and “Paterno” film on HBO this week…I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org 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.