By Keith Idec
Jarrett Hurd is the defending champion, but his challenger considers Hurd the one with plenty to prove in their fight Saturday night.
Austin Trout thinks Tony Harrison was beating Hurd in their February 25 title fight and that he exposed flaws in the undefeated Hurd’s game. Hurd (20-0, 14 KOs), of Accokeek, Maryland, officially was winning their battle for the then-vacant IBF junior middleweight title on two of the three scorecards when Hurd stopped Detroit’s Harrison (24-2, 20 KOs) in the ninth round, but their scheduled 12-round bout was very competitive.
“Harrison was winning the fight until he got knocked out and he showed a lot of holes in Hurd’s game,” Trout told BoxingScene.com. “I’m sure he’s tightened those up in a sense, but how much tightening up can you do from February until now?”
The 27-year-old Hurd has beaten six straight opponents by technical knockout since his six-round, majority-decision win over Emmanuel Sanchez (7-6, 1 KO) in December 2014. Frank Galarza (17-2-2, 11 KOs) and Oscar Molina (13-2-1, 10 KOs), both of whom were undefeated before facing Hurd, and Jo Jo Dan (36-5, 19 KOs) were among Hurd’s conquests prior to defeating Harrison for a title Jermall Charlo gave up to move to the middleweight division.
Nevertheless, the 32-year-old Trout (30-3, 17 KOs) is the most accomplished, skilled opponent Hurd has signed on to box. The Las Cruces, New Mexico-based southpaw has beaten Miguel Cotto and the former WBA super welterweight champion has lost only 12-round unanimous decisions to three top opponents – Canelo Alvarez, Erislandy Lara and Jermall Charlo.
“He’s done what he’s supposed to do,” Trout said. “He’s gotten his last six guys out of there. But those guys were nowhere near my level, in my opinion. Again, he’s done what he was supposed to do and had some good outings. He has never fought anybody like me, though.”
Their fight Saturday night will be one of three 154-pound championship matches Showtime will televise from Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
In the main event, Lara (24-2-2, 14 KOs), a southpaw from Cuba, is set to defend his WBA and IBO super welterweight championships against Cleveland’s Terrell Gausha (20-0, 9 KOs). Immediately after Hurd and Trout open Showtime’s tripleheader, Houston’s Jermell Charlo (29-0, 14 KOs) will encounter Erickson Lubin (18-0, 13 KOs), a southpaw from Orlando, Florida, and the mandatory challenger for Charlo’s WBC super welterweight title.
“We’re preparing like he’s fully ready to do this, because we don’t wanna sit here and act like it’s just the experience that’s gonna carry me over,” Trout said. “The skill set is what’s gonna carry me through. The experience is what will be the icing on the cake, in a sense. I’m not banking on my experience to win this fight. I’m banking on my skill set to win this fight.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.