Undefeated Super Welterweight world champion Jarrett Hurd entered the ring this past Saturday night with the biggest bull’s eye on his tattooed back. His assignment was also the toughest of the night’s three championship bouts.
With the boxing world’s recent exodus of several of it’s great world champions and Hall of Fame caliber fighters – amid one of sport’s best years ever – almost weekly it seems like frenzied fans nervously await the emergence of immediate replacements. Diamonds require high temperatures and pressure applied over billions of years before they are ready to illuminate a chain draped around Deontay Wilder‘s neck.
Jarrett “Swift” Hurd (21-0, 15 KOs) has amassed just under 100 rounds over his five-year professional career, but since having that red leather belt adorned with gold-finished plates placed around his waist following his 9th-round stoppage of Tony Harrison in February, the 27-year old has been on the clock. The two top-ranked fighters fought for Jermall Charlo’s vacated title.
Hurd and former world champion Austin “No Doubt” Trout (30-4, 17 KOs) engaged in 10 rounds of grueling action inside Barclays Center in the opener of Showtime’s telecast. With Hurd relying on his youth, power and ruggedness to retain his belt, Trout was expected to pull from his years of experience and guile to thwart the young champ’s attempt to cement his status among the division’s best. This is boxing, boxers are still expected to beat the man in order to be the man.
Admittedly, Hurd didn’t pass his title-winning test with flying colors as he consistently backed up Harrison during their 9 rounds in Birmingham, Alabama. Hurd’s camp predicted Harrison would fade in the latter part of the fight, but they didn’t envision the Detroit native comfortably out-boxing Hurd for good stretches of the first 6-7 rounds.
So, while many favored Hurd’s power punching edge going into the Trout fight, questions lingered regarding many other aspects of the young champion’s ability. Albeit there were some eye-catching lapses early on, there were three key takeaways from Hurd’s sensational outing that concluded with a technical knockout before the start of the 11th round.
Hurd doesn’t start slow enough.
After the fight Hurd summed up him being outworked early on with, “I’m always a slow starter. Trout was good in the beginning, but I showed that it’s tough trying to go the distance with Jarrett Hurd.”
Fans can take CompuBox with a grain of salt, we all should know that some sophisticated equipment isn’t confirming landed punches. However, this fight’s results does closely support Hurd’s momentum gain that occurred over the final three rounds. Furthermore, the stats show that Hurd was only badly out landed in round two (13 to 26), and significantly out thrown in round five (68 to 95). Of Trout’s 26 punches landed in the second round, 21 were power punches. Hurd appeared to start slowly because he stalked Trout from the outset of the fight, failing to find and maintain a good range that would maximize his 4 1/2-inches in reach advantage, as well as his 3 1/2-inches in height.
Hurd started operating from a more favorable range in parts of the third round, and gradually improved maintaining good range in each subsequent round until his offense began outpacing Trout’s from the fifth through the tenth and final round.
Hurd’s power affords him patience.
I’m a huge a fan of Hurd’s self-promotion, and his marketing of his nickname “Swift”, but while he’s no sloth in the ring, I’m not sure whether he’s physically outgrown the moniker. I get it though, “Brawn” probably only works well “around the way” for the Transformers Autobot.
The fact of the matter is Hurd’s impatience constantly put him in harm’s way throughout his fight with Trout, even as Hurd’s power degraded the veteran’s technique. Trout scored his highest number of landed punches for the fight in round six (30), and his highest connection percentage (39%) came in the 8th round.
In haste to get Trout penned in the ropes, to limit his options for punching angles, Hurd’s footwork after his short combinations often left him in limbo – he was either squared up or in a southpaw stance. While briefly in a southpaw stance Hurd looked uncomfortable and unsure whether to pursue, or to take a second to regroup and attack. An excessive amount of these instances from a more lethal puncher, such as WBC Jermell Charlo, could prove to be a costly mistake.
Also, had Hurd been a little more patient he may have realized that his offense became a little predictable. He mainly relied on single long jabs, he seemingly struggled to get his signature uppercut truly working, and virtually abandoned going to the body when the action was at its highest. Again, unification fights with WBA Super world champion Erislandy Lara, or the aforementioned Charlo, are going to call for varied attacks over the course of the scheduled 12 rounds.
Hurd will need to employ a little more patience and exhibit more creativity offensively to prevail.
Hurd ain’t got time to bleed.
In his post fight comments Hurd spoke to his toughness and resiliency, “My cut made me a little better with my head movement.”
A fighter shouldn’t need a cut to act as the impetus to move his head, but he also said, “The cut over my left eye came early in the seventh round from an accidental head butt, but I feel like that actually helped force me to move my head better.”
Ideally, a fighter should start the fight being mindful of his head not being stationary, but Hurd is learning some aspects of the game on the job. His intensity, and sense of urgency, early in the 10th round paired with his bloodied face resembled William Wallace at the end of the Battle of Stirling in Braveheart. He even had a fishing net to hoist in the air after Trout’s nearly-closed, bulging right eye prompted his corner to stop the fight.
Getting the win in stunning fashion was paramount for Hurd, and by stopping Trout he accomplished a feat that eluded previous Super Welterweight champions Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, Jermall Charlo, Miguel Cotto – and Lara too. A granite chin is an excellent tool to have in the toolbox for any fight, but competing at the elite level for another five years, will command that Hurd’s chin isn’t his first line of defense. His current hairstyle also allows heavier shots that he rolls with, or that actually connect with his gloves while in the ear-muff position, look more effective than what they might be.
Hurd’s 21st victory against a dogged competitor like Trout likely didn’t answer all the questions that remain concerning the young fighter’s position in the division. However, he still has his belt, he now has a knockout victory against a notable fighter, he’s fan-friendly both in and out of the ring, and he’s demonstrated his commitment to do everything he rapped about doing for the belt.
Well actually, he did 1-out-of-the-4 but Erickson Lubin suffered a significant setback in his 1st-round knockout loss, but now all of the division’s champions have publicly expressed their desire to unify titles. After Saturday night, the Super Welterweight division showed it’s one of the sport’s deepest and most electrifying divisions. And, delivering fans the next round of this de facto tourney in early 2018 will indisputably play a key role in swiftly proving to fans 2017 was no fluke.
Header photo by Marilyn Paulino/RBRBoxing