By Gilbert Manzano
Jarrett Hurd’s goal of unifying the junior middleweight division was put on hold after undergoing arthroscopic surgery in June to repair a torn rotator cuff.
Now that Hurd’s left shoulder is 100 percent, he plans on finishing what he started.
“I want to be undisputed champion at 154 pounds,” Hurd said Wednesday at his media workout. “The plan is to go after the WBC belt next. I'm inspired to do it and I see it right in front of me.
“I feel strong and the shoulder is 100 percent. In sparring and hitting the bag, I forgot I even had surgery. That's how good I feel.”
Hurd, the unified WBA and IBF champion, had a tune-up bout in December when he recorded a fourth-round knockout against Jason Welborn in the co-main event to Deontay Wilder-Tyson Fury.
On May 11, Hurd will go back to fighting top contenders when he meets Julian “J-Rock” Williams to headline a PBC on FOX event from EagleBank Arena in Fairfax, Virginia.
“I've watched some of Julian's recent fights and his last two fights have been on the same cards I've been on,” Hurd said. “It's almost like it's meant to be. We were lining up to face each other and here we are.”
Hurd (23-0, 16 knockouts) made a name for himself in recent years as a fan-friendly fighter and recorded the biggest win of his career last year in a thrilling unification bout against Erislandy Lara. But that momentum was stopped after the shoulder surgery.
For Hurd to achieve his goal, he’ll need to capture the WBC and WBO belts. Tony Harrison, the current WBC champion, is scheduled for a rematch with Jermell Charlo on June 23. Jaime Munguia defended the WBO title last month in a controversial majority decision against Dennis Hogan.
After Hurd defeated Lara, there was talks of Hurd facing Charlo for three junior middleweight titles, but then Hurd had the surgery and Charlo lost the belt to Harrison in a controversial unanimous decision in December.
Hurd had a technical ninth-round knockout against Harrison to win the vacant IBF belt in 2017.
For Williams (26-1-1, 16 KOs), this will be his second opportunity at winning a world title. He was knocked out by Jermall Charlo, Jermell’s twin, for the IBF belt that now belongs to Hurd.
“It's hard to tell what type of fight this is going to be,” Hurd said about facing Williams. “I want to say that he's going to try to box, but I said that about Erislandy Lara and we saw that he stood toe-to-toe with me. Because of my size, I don't really think Julian Williams is going to try to do that. He's going to try to get his shots off and score points and make it through 12 rounds.”