By Keith Idec
Jarrett Hurd got the knockdown he needed to beat Erislandly Lara with just 37 seconds left in their highly competitive 154-pound title unification fight Saturday night in Las Vegas.
That knockdown gave Hurd a 114-113 edge on the scorecards of judges Glenn Feldman and Dave Morretti and a split-decision victory over the skillful Cuban southpaw. Judge Burt Clements scored the 12-round fight for Lara, 114-113.
The bout would’ve resulted in a majority draw had Hurd’s left hook not dropped Lara late in the 12th round.
The bigger, stronger Hurd’s constant pressure, perhaps combined with the 34-year-old Lara’s age, made Lara fight different than he usually does throughout their bout. They often fought from the inside and Lara moved less than he normally does, but the 5-feet-9 Lara landed regularly with his left hand as the 6-feet-1 Hurd moved forward.
Ultimately, though, two of the three judges favored Hurd’s aggression and work inside against Lara, who suffered swelling and a cut around his right eye.
Hurd (22-0, 15 KOs) won the WBA and IBO super welterweight championships from Lara (25-3-2, 14 KOs) and retained his IBF junior middleweight title in a fight Showtime televised from The Joint inside Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
The 27-year-old Hurd, of Accokeek, Maryland, also dealt Lara the third close loss of Lara’s nine-year pro career. Before Saturday night, Lara had lost only a controversial majority decision to Paul Williams in July 2011 and a debatable split decision to Canelo Alvarez in July 2014.
Hurd hammered Lara with overhand rights and right uppercuts as he wore down Lara during the 12th round. He finally floored Lara with a left hook that sent Lara to his gloves and knees with 37 seconds remaining in the fight.
Lara appeared to buy himself a few extra seconds to recover by not responding promptly to referee Kenny Bayless’ commands once he reached his feet. But once the action resumed, Hurd couldn’t hurt Lara again and Lara made it to the final bell.
Hurd seemingly stung Lara with a right hand with under 10 seconds left in the 11th round. That shot left Lara holding near the ropes.
The 10th round concluded with terrific back-and-forth action. Lara and Hurd landed their fair share of shots in those exchanges – Lara largely with his left hand and Hurd with his right.
Lara and Hurd fought from close distances throughout the ninth round. Hurd hit Lara with body and head shots in those three minutes, but Lara often fired back with left hands.
Hurd snapped back Lara’s head with a right uppercut around the 1:40 mark of the eighth round. About a minute later, Hurd backed Lara into a corner and connected with an overhand right.
Hurd hit Lara with a hard, short right hand just before the seventh round ended. Lara took that shot well and had plenty of his own success earlier in the seventh, when he fired combinations at Hurd as his opponent pressed forward.
With his back to a neutral corner, Lara cracked Hurd with a hard left uppercut at the 55-second mark of the sixth round. That shot woke up Hurd, who kept pressing forward to let Lara know he wasn’t hurt.
Hurd tried to batter Lara’s body in the first half of the fifth round, but Lara blocked most of those shots with his elbows. Later in the fifth, Hurd wasn’t able to land any flush punches once he switched to a southpaw stance.
Lara also caught Hurd with a counter left hand earlier in the fifth.
Hurd kept pressuring Lara throughout the fourth round. He was willing to take left hands to attack Lara’s body and landed a solid right hand when there were 15 seconds remaining in the fourth.
A willing Lara stayed close to Hurd during the third round and it paid dividends when he was able to connect with lefts. Hurd had some success during the third as well, most notably with a hard, short counter right hand that Lara took well.
Lara stood his ground at times during the second round and repeatedly hit Hurd with left hands. Hurd didn’t stop coming forward, however, and hit Lara with a short right hand with just under 10 seconds to go in the second.
Lara was sharp to start the bout by landing several left hands as Hurd moved forward during the first round.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.