By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Jarrett Hurd understands why boxing fans want to see him fight Jermell Charlo.
Hurd has no problem facing Charlo, but it makes more sense to him to beat Erislandy Lara first and then challenge Charlo. Lara, the WBA super welterweight champion, is widely viewed as the champion to beat within the 154-pound division.
The Lara-Hurd fight was announced during Showtime’s “2018 Boxing Upfront” event last week, when the network revealed its schedule through June 16. Lara (25-2-2, 14 KOs), a Cuban southpaw who resides and trains in Houston, and Hurd (21-0, 15 KOs), the IBF 154-pound champ, are set to meet April 7 at an undetermined venue.
“A win over Erislandy Lara, it lets everyone in the division know that I’m the guy to beat,” Hurd told BoxingScene.com. “I know people wanna see the fight with me and Jermell Charlo. But I feel like if I did get past Jermell Charlo, there would still be questions like, ‘What would Jarrett do with Erislndy Lara?’ So to erase all that and let people know who’s No. 1 in the weight class, I’ll take on Erislandy Lara.”
Showtime also announced Charlo’s return Wednesday as part of a unique gathering during which 21 Premier Boxing Champions fighters gathered to discuss their upcoming fights and/or future plans.
Houston’s Charlo (30-0, 15 KOs) will defend his WBC super welterweight title June 9 at an undetermined venue in Los Angeles. Charlo isn’t expected to face the Lara-Hurd winner in that bout because it would be too quick of a turnaround for whichever fighter emerges victorious April 7.
The 27-year-old Hurd, of Accokeek, Maryland, became the first fight to stop former WBA super welterweight champ Austin Trout (30-4, 17 KOs) in his last fight, in which Trout declined to continue following the 10th round October 14 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. That impressive win notwithstanding, the big, rugged Hurd believes fans and reporters still doubt his ability to defeat fighters like Lara and Charlo.
“I feel like a win over him and there will be no more doubters,” Hurd said. “I never went into a fight where people thought I would actually be the one to win. So after this fight right here, I feel like I will become the ‘A’ side and make all the doubters into believers.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.