NEW YORK – Jarrett Hurd heard boos from restless fans in each of the final four rounds of his fight against Francisco Santana on Saturday night at Barclays Center.
More important for Hurd and his team, he demonstrated a lot of what his new trainer hammered home during their first camp together. Hurd defended himself better, worked off his jab much more and soundly defeated Francisco Santana in their 10-round middleweight match.
The taller, stronger Hurd (24-1, 16 KOs) was awarded an easy victory on the scorecard of each judge. Julie Lederman (99-90) and Kevin Morgan (99-90) scored nine rounds apiece for Hurd, who won seven rounds on the card of Larry Hazzard Jr. (97-92).
Hurd finally floored the courageous Santana after landing a sweeping right hand toward the end of the 10th round. That shot sent Santana to his gloves and knees with five seconds to go in the fight.
Hurd ran out of time to stop Santana, but he bounced back from the upset defeat to Julian Williams that cost him the IBF, IBO and WBA 154-pound championships eight months ago.
“We came out here and did what we wanted to do,” Hurd told Showtime’s Jim Gray in the ring after his win. “The crowd didn’t love it, but you gotta understand, I got the unanimous decision and I did what I wanted to do. … There definitely was no frustration. We didn’t wanna go toe-to-toe and we didn’t wanna make this a risky fight.”
The smaller, slower Santana seemed to be the perfect opponent for Hurd in his first fight since Williams beat him by unanimous decision May 11 in Fairfax, Virginia. Santana’s size disadvantage made the veteran welterweight less dangerous when he was able to hit Hurd and his lack of movement allowed Hurd to work on his defense and offensive technique.
Those advantages enabled Hurd to land 138 more punches overall than Santana (233-of-684 to 95-of-737), according to CompuBox. Hurd had a huge edge in jabs (80-of-356 to 5-of-219).
“I just wanted to keep coming forward and give it my all,” Santana said. “I know I was frustrating him at times, but it was a tall task and I don’t make any excuses.”
The 33-year-old Santana (25-8-1, 12 KOs), of Santa Barbara, California, slipped to 1-4 in his past five fights. He has lost by knockout just once in 14 years as a pro and not since Karim Mayfield stopped him in the fifth round of their November 2009 fight in Oakland, California.
The 29-year-old Hurd, of Accokeek, Maryland, worked with trainer Kay Koroma for the first time Saturday night. Koroma replaced Hurd’s longtime trainer Ernesto Rodriguez, with whom Hurd parted ways following his unforeseen defeat to Williams.
Before Saturday night, Santana hadn’t competed at or near the junior middleweight limit of 154 pounds in 6½ years. The contracted catch weight for their fight Saturday night was 156 pounds, two above the junior middleweight limit.
Santana’s previous 12 fights were contested at or near the welterweight maximum of 147 pounds.
Prior to Hurd landing numerous power shots in the 10th round, Hurd blasted Santana with a flush right hand near the midway mark of the ninth round.
Fans booed for a second straight round in the eighth, which lacked sustained action.
Hurd landed multiple punches to Santana’s body and then a right hand up top in the middle minute of the seventh round. Santana landed an overhand right with about a minute to go in the seventh.
A left hook by Santana caught Hurd flush when there were approximately 20 seconds left in the seventh. Around that time, pockets of fans began booing, presumably because they expected Hurd would’ve stopped Santana by then.
An accurate Hurd hammered Santana with three right hands in the first half of the fifth round. Hurd later unloaded an array of power punches on the brave Santana – left hooks, right uppercuts, overhand rights – each of which Santana managed to take before the bell sounded to end the fifth.
Hurd and Santana traded left hooks about 1:20 into the fourth round, but neither fighter seemed affected by those shots. Hurd landed an overhand right and then a left hook within the final 10 seconds of the fourth.
Hurd’s right uppercut connected with just over a minute to go in the third round. Hurd had spent much of the first two minutes of that round slipping and blocking Santana’s punches.
A left hook by Santana caught Hurd as he was pulling away with 1:10 to go in the second round. Santana backed Hurd into a neutral corner toward the end of the second round, but Hurd slipped his punches.
Hurd immediately made it clear he wanted to use his jab more than he has in the recent past. He pumped it at Santana’s head throughout a first round in which he also landed two hard right hands as Santana pressed forward.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.