By Cliff Rold
There was a fierce battle.
A sudden end.
A Brooklyn crowd who found a way to entertain when the inaction in the ring left them with too much time on their hand.
Going into Saturday night, it looked like the second best card on paper in the US this year. The first two bouts televised on Showtime gave more than enough to live up to most of that billing. In the end, we saw two young men who demand to be seen again and a veteran talent who could use the sort of challenge they might give him.
That’s plenty for one night.
Let’s go the report cards, taking a look at the prefight matchup potential versus the matchup reality, beginning with the first and best fight on the show.
Jarrett Hurd (21-0, 15 KO) – IBF, 1 Defense RTD10 Austin Trout (30-4, 17 KO)
Matchup Potential: B+
Matchup Reality A
At 32 years of age, Trout shook off more than a year out of the ring with one of the most valiant performances of his career. He came to fight. He came to win. It wasn’t enough but, in the first stoppage defeat of his professional tenure, Trout gave as much as could be asked of any man.
Hurd, still only 27 years old, showed he still has lots to learn and plenty of room to grow. He learned and grew throughout the night against Trout. Hurd took everything Trout could dish out, much of it flush. Trout has never been a big puncher and the in-ring size difference was notable from the start. It didn’t make taking those shots look easy. Hurd just kept coming. His willingness to take in order to deliver hurt was reminiscent of Antonio Margarito in spots.
In an era without day before weigh-ins, one can wonder if a Trout’s early offensive outburst and lead on the cards might have held. Would Hurd even be able to fight in the division? It doesn’t matter because this is boxing as it is. Hurd started to turn the tide big in the sixth and never looked back.
The still-reigning titlist would be well served to tighten his defenses and use his feet more wisely. His constant shifting between orthodox and southpaw leaves his squared up constantly, a big target who a bigger puncher might punish harshly.
If they do not, like Trout, they will find him a bear to deal with to the end. Hurd’s style isn’t built to last years but he stays cool under fire and seems to have a deep gas tank. This was a hell of a fight, exceeding all expectations, and Hurd is going to build a healthy fan base with a few more like it.
If this fight was more than expected, the next fight on the night was both less and everything we could ask for.
Jermell Charlo (30-0, 15 KO) - WBC, 2 Defenses KO1 Erickson Lubin (18-1, 13 KO)
Matchup Potential: A
Matchup Reality: B+
A lot of folks had this one penciled as the possible fight of the night. Instead it settled for one of the highlights of the year. Lubin had shown some impressive flashes as a prospect while Charlo had looked like just the other Charlo brother at times. With now four straight knockouts, it’s looking less like there is an ‘other’ in this twin pairing.
There was a lot of talent in their shared womb and it’s starting to show in a big way.
For those who wondered about the chin of Lubin, we got one of the most visceral knockouts in recent memory. This was up there with Tszyu-Judah and Pettway-Brown. One shot bombs are always fin to see and in the first round they send a jolt not just through the fallen but anyone watching. The way Lubin’s legs stiffened, his body and senses so completely divided, added the extra touch.
There wasn’t enough fight here to say it met its potential but a perfect shot, delivered with such a sudden shock, isn’t something seen every day. For Lubin, it’s back to finishing school. Time will tell if he has the chin for the elite level but, at 22, he has time on his side to regroup.
For Charlo, the division could be his oyster. Fights with Hurd or Erislandy Lara would be fantastic and the personality he and his brother are showing is going to put a lot of butts in seats.
Erislandy Lara (25-2-2, 14 KO) – WBA, 7 Defenses UD12 Terrell Gausha (20-1, 9 KO)
Matchup Potential: C+
Matchup Reality: D
Let’s not beat around the bush: watching this sucked.
This looked like the least competitive fight of the night on paper. It was more lopsided in the ring. Lara won going away, something he’s done in every fight since a narrow loss to Canelo Alvarez.
Lara can be better viewing but he needs opponents that add fire to the affair. Gausha had fought no one that could prepare him for Lara and didn’t know what to do against him. Lara’s jab, left hand, and smart body work had him handcuffed and befuddled.
The grade isn’t lower for two reasons. First, the fight wasn’t plagued by clinches. Lara was just too technically superior. He’s never been a volume puncher; he fought a Lara fight and did it effectively. Being dull in a win is far from the same as being bad. He’s a very good fighter and when he’s in with someone so far out of his league, it’s just a waste of what’s left of his good years.
Second, the crowd that didn’t walk out (and this was just shy of Rigondeaux-Agbeko bad) made it fun by chanting down the closing seconds of the late rounds. They weren’t rooting for a winner; they were rooting to go home.
It was the sort of chant people who pay for tickets make. At 34, Lara will have to be matched better to get those sorts to stay in the arena going forward.
Report Card and Staff Picks 2017: 40-16
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]