By Thomas Gerbasi
Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York - When Abner Mares was forced to withdraw from his bout against Jesus Cuellar due to a medical issue, the PBC card at Barclays Center needed a worthy co-main event, and junior middleweight prospects Jarrett Hurd and Oscar Molina delivered the goods with an exciting scrap won by Hurd via 10th round TKO.
Hurd patiently controlled much of the first round behind his jab, but in the final minute, it was a flush right uppercut that woke up the crowd and dropped Molina hard to the canvas. Molina jumped up immediately, shaking his head as if to say he wasn't hurt, but Hurd had found his mark, even landing another right uppercut before the bell ended the round.
Molina got more aggressive in the second, closing the distance more effectively, but Hurd adjusted well, regaining control once more by the end of the frame.
The action heated up in the third, Hurd still holding the edge, but Molina getting busier as he landed hard shots at close range, and in round four, the 2012 Mexican Olympian got the fight he wanted, as the two battled it out in a phone booth for three minutes, Molina landing with several thudding body blows.
Hurd surged in the fifth frame, shaking off Molina's body work and returning fire with several hard combinations as he regained control of the action by the end of the round.
Molina landed some hard shots in the sixth, but they were having little effect on Hurd, who continued to outwork his foe and pile up the points. This was no one-sided bout though, as the two prospects continued to show off the lost art of infighting, with Molina making plenty of noise in the seventh frame.
In the final minute of round eight though, Hurd jarred the Norwalk, California product several times, forcing him out of his aggressive stance for a few moments. Characteristically, Molina shook off the blows and jumped back into the fray in round nine, but the cleaner and more damaging blows continued to come from the fists of Hurd, who continued to pour it on in an action-packed tenth round that was called to a halt at the 2:02 mark by referee Ricky Gonzalez after Molina was tagged with a few hard shots at close range. The crowd and Molina didn't like it, but the decision stood, with Accokeek, Maryland's Hurd moving to 18-0 with 12 KOs. Molina falls to 13-1-1 with 10 KOs.
ON THE UNDERCARD
Continuing to improve her defense while picking her shots a lot better, Brooklyn?s own Heather Hardy remained unbeaten, outpointing Denver's Kirstie Simmons over eight rounds.
Scores were 79-73 and 78-72 twice for 'The Heat,' now 17-0 with 4 KOs; Simmons falls to 8-2 with 2 KOs.
Fighting at her usual fast pace, Hardy didn't stand and brawl with Simmons. Instead, she avoided her opponents wild rushes and came back with potshots throughout the eight rounds. Particularly effective with her right hand, Hardy proved that a step up in competition is in order by the end of the year.
Unbeaten light heavyweight phenom David Benavidez kept his perfect record intact, taking away the unbeaten slate of Montreal's Francy Ntetu via seventh-round TKO.
After a strong start from Benavidez, Ntetu began tagging the Arizona native late in the first, showing himself to be more than willing to stand and trade with the teenage power puncher. By round two though, you could see by the look on Ntetu's face and his tendency to hold on to his clinches that Benavidez' attack was beginning to take its toll.
The Montrealer wasn't going away though, and given Benavidez' porous defense, if Ntetu had a little more power, the fight might have gone in a different direction. As it was though, it was Benavidez doing the punishing, with Ntetu, game but outgunned.
In round seven, which actually followed some of Ntetu's best flurries of the fight, referee Shada Murdaugh halted the bout, drawing the ire of the crowd and the Canadian. The official time of the stoppage was 1:30, and while Murdaugh took heat from the crowd, a pre-round visit from NYSAC doctor Barry Jordan likely played a role in the stoppage due to the accumulation of punishment Ntetu had taken to that point.
With the win, Benavidez moves to 15-0 with 14 KOs; Ntetu falls to 16-1 with 3 KOs. At the time of the stoppage, Benavidez led 58-56 on two cards and 59-55 on the third.