NEW YORK – Jarrett Hurd learned quite quickly eight months ago how just one close loss could cause some fickle fans to suddenly discount virtually everything else you had accomplished.
Hurd fell from one of the top two spots among 154-pound boxers, along with Jermell Charlo, to an overrated afterthought once underdog Julian Williams dropped and out-pointed him in their IBF/IBO/WBA championship match May 11 in Fairfax, Virginia. When Williams was upset by an even bigger underdog, Jeison Rosario, on Saturday night in Philadelphia, Hurd sensed he regained respect even though he still hasn’t fought since Williams beat him by unanimous decision in their 12-rounder eight months ago.
Hurd discussed the aftermath of his first professional defeat during an interview with BoxingScene.com following a press conference Thursday in Brooklyn.
“I learned something about these fans when I lost,” Hurd said. “I wasn’t even the one who beat Julian Williams, but now they’re putting me back up in the rankings, saying that I have this chance and I have that chance. Before, when Julian Williams beat me, I wasn’t nothing. So, I really don’t know what the fans think, and I don’t know where they rank me. Danny Garcia made the perfect statement a couple minutes ago – the rankings are gonna be the rankings and the politics are gonna be the politics. I’m just coming to fight.”
Still, unlike lots of fighters, Hurd admits he pays attention to what’s being said and written about him on the Internet.
“People say they don’t, but you get notifications to your phone all day,” Hurd said. “You know what I mean? From the fans and everybody. I don’t let it get to me, but of course I pay attention to it.”
The 29-year-old Hurd is fully focused, though, on rebounding from his loss to Williams on Saturday night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The former champion is an unsightly 50-1 favorite entering his 10-round fight against Francisco Santana, a tested, tough veteran who’s basically been a welterweight the past six years.
Showtime will air Hurd-Santana as part of a tripleheader that’ll feature Philadelphia’s Garcia (35-2, 21 KOs) in the main event, a 12-round welterweight fight against Ukraine’s Ivan Redkach (23-4-1, 18 KOs).
Assuming Hurd (23-1, 16 KOs) gets past Santana, a rematch with Williams, the fight Hurd had hoped to land next, no longer is a possibility. Williams stated right after Rosario stopped him in the fifth round at Temple University’s Liacouras Center that he would exercise a clause in his contract for an immediate rematch.
Hurd reiterated Thursday that he didn’t take the immediate rematch Williams was contractually obligated to give him because he changed trainers – from longtime coach Ernesto Rodriguez to Kay Koroma. Once Hurd passed on the immediate rematch, Williams was no longer bound to it.
Now that Williams understandably is pursuing the Rosario rematch, Hurd isn’t certain what will happen after facing Santana (25-7-1, 12 KOs).
“I don’t know,” Hurd said. “The [Williams-Rosario] fight was a week ago. I always wanted a rematch with Julian Williams. But now, I haven’t even spoken to my team about it because we’re focused on this. After this fight, maybe in a week or so, we’ll go over things and figure out what to do.”
Hurd would welcome a showdown with WBC super welterweight champion Jermell Charlo, the fight the Accokeek, Maryland, native expected to move toward had he beaten Williams (27-2-1, 16 KOs, 1 NC).
“That was always the biggest fight for me at 154 before the whole mix-up,” Hurd said. “I still think that’s the biggest fight for me. So, I mean, hopefully I can get that fight. But it doesn’t matter. I just wanna get back on top, as a world champion, and build my legacy at ’54 before I move up [to middleweight].”
Hurd feels Charlo should embrace their bout because he, not Charlo, has accomplished the most among active 154-pound boxers.
“One thing’s for sure, no matter what anybody says – I have the best resume at 154,” Hurd said. “I defeated the most guys. I’m the only one that stopped Austin Trout. And, you know, no one has a win over Erislandy Lara on their resume. I’m the only one who really beat Erislandy Lara, who arguably doesn’t have another loss. People argue about the Canelo fight and [the results of] a couple of the Lara fights. So, I feel like I still have the best resume at 154.”
Hurd edged the Cuban-born Lara (26-3-3, 15 KOs) by split decision in April 2018. Their highly competitive clash, in which Hurd scored a 12th-round knockdown, was voted “Fight of the Year” for 2018 by the Boxing Writers Association of America.
Houston’s Charlo (33-1, 17 KOs) avenged his lone loss to Tony Harrison last month by knocking out Harrison in the 11th round of their rematch. Charlo’s impressive victory December 21 at Toyota Arena in Ontario, California, enabled him to win back the title Harrison took from him almost exactly a year earlier, when Harrison won a unanimous decision at Barclays Center.
Charlo also has beaten Trout, but their fight went the distance in June 2018 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, after Hurd had stopped Trout following the 10th round of their October 2017 battle at Barclays Center. The 29-year-old Charlo hasn’t fought Lara, the most accomplished opponent Hurd has defeated.
Hurd also stopped Harrison in the ninth round of their February 2017 bout at Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama. Detroit’s Harrison (28-3, 21 KOs) upset Charlo nearly two years after Hurd defeated him by technical knockout.
Boxing’s other two 154-pound champions, the Dominican Republic’s Rosario (20-1-1, 14 KOs) and Brazilian-born WBO title-holder Patrick Teixeira (31-1, 22 KOs), have yet to make defenses of their respective titles.
No matter whom Hurd fights next, Williams’ loss Saturday night reinforced what he already knew – that he can’t look past Santana.
The 33-year-old Santana has a six-round draw with Williams on his record. The Santa Barbara, California, native also lost an eight-round unanimous decision to Jermell Charlo in his following fight, both of which took place in 2011, when Santana first was a junior middleweight.
“I’ve seen some tape on him,” Hurd said. “He has a draw with a guy I lost to, first of all, so that makes him dangerous. Styles make fights, but you’ve gotta keep that in consideration. He’s been in there with guys who became world champions like Julian Williams and Jermell Charlo, and he got undefeated fighters on his record that he’s also beat.
“He’s a dangerous fighter, a dangerous opponent. He comes to fight. You know he’s not coming to lay down, so you’ve gotta watch out for him. If I don’t get past this guy, rematches or getting my belts back or any of that stuff falls short. So, I’ve gotta make sure Saturday night that I do my thing.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.