One of the best fights of 2019 might one day get a sequel.
It just won’t be next.
As reported by BoxingScene’s Keith Idec on Wednesday, the anticipated rematch between WBA/IBF Jr. middleweight titlist Julian Williams (27-1-1, 16 KO) and the man he deposed for the honors, Jarrett Hurd (23-1, 16 KO), won’t be happening immediately.
Looking ahead at the fall calendar, Williams-Hurd II stood out among a crop of several intriguing fights across the scale. We know what we saw the first time. Nothing about the style of both combatants suggested they could deliver a dud in a return.
One of these days, that thinking might get tested.
Jr. middleweight is one of boxing’s more loaded weight divisions and has been a real gem in the Premiere Boxing Champions corner of the fistic world. As men like Errol Spence and Keith Thurman have crossed to join Manny Pacquiao in the pay-per-view realm, Jr. middleweight has compensated on more widely distributed platforms.
In 2018, Hurd shared BWAA Fight of the Year honors with Erislandy Lara while Tony Harrison shocked Jermell Charlo for the WBC title. In 2019, along with Williams-Hurd, Lara battled to a competitive draw with Brian Castano and we still are likely to see the injury-delayed Harrison-Charlo rematch. While the PBC doesn’t have the division completely locked down, WBO beltholder Jaime Munguia feels distant from the heart of the division for now.
With depth comes possibility and fans bummed about the loss of Williams-Hurd II might not have to be bummed long.
The first question when reports Hurd wouldn’t take the rematch this year was whom could Williams fight instead? The easy answer just got done with two easy rounds of work last weekend.
Lara (26-3-3, 15 KO), the longtime former WBA champion, captured one of that organizations various sub-titles with a romp over the brother of Saul Alvarez, Ramon. The television numbers on Fox, especially considering they were up against the opening weekend of the college football season, were solid at well over a million viewers.
Hurd-Williams did a peak rating of over 2 million viewers on Fox in May and close to a million and a half households throughout the broadcast.
Two fighters, under the same promotional umbrella, fighting on the same network, both without a dance partner…it sort of feels like a natural.
It turns out it might be a case where the oft illogical world of boxing settles on the easy logic.
Later in the day on Wednesday, Mike Coppinger of the Athletic tweeted a Williams-Lara clash is being explored by the PBC. Whether Williams and Lara would mix as well as Williams and Hurd did remains to be seen. It’s hard to argue it’s not the next best fight available.
Williams, 29, responded to questions about his chin and durability after a 2016 knockout loss to Jermall Charlo with his victory over Hurd. Lara, 36, would give him another top-level foe to cement that he’s ready to be an enduring player. Conversely, Williams would give the aging Lara a chance to avenge his loss to Hurd by proxy and push himself to the front of the weight class he’s made home for a career one more time.
It’s a fight worth crossing fingers for.
It’s also a reminder of where fight fans can find value in boxing right now. There is an abundance of content out there. Fox, DAZN, ESPN, and Showtime are all in the game along with UFC Fight Pass, Telemundo, YouTube, and occasional random international streams no one knows about until the last minute.
There is no shortage of boxing.
There can never be enough of the best fights possible from strawweight to heavyweight.
While we wait for the sporadic outbursts of promotional entities working together, that means looking for the concentrated pockets of talent. Light heavyweight on ESPN, welterweight and Jr. middleweight on Fox or Showtime, and cruiserweight and bantamweight on DAZN are all examples.
(Insert fighter’s name) won’t cross the street…blah blah…A side…there’s just less of all that nonsense when options are plenty under particular tents.
It’s why Jr. middleweight has been delivering. It’s why it should continue to do so through the end of the year.
Devin Haney says he wants Vasyl Lomachenko and if he wins this weekend he’ll be in position to challenge him for the WBC crown. Maybe Haney is too young but if he thinks he’s ready, and his team agrees, let’s see it. Haney will probably have at least another fight or two in the interim and only continue to progress. A year from now that could be one hell of a fascinating scrap…The fall lineup is pretty strong in boxing but after a dragging August it can hurry up and get here already…Will HBO’s Watchmen be a gem? It’s hard to say but anyone who watched what the same production team did on HBO with the Leftovers should be encouraged…Daniel Roman getting injured was a bummer. He’s entertaining and 122 lbs. has some nice momentum right now…Erickson Lubin-Terrell Gausha could be a sleeper…Jeff Horn is pretty much where he would have been even if he hadn’t got a little home cooking against Manny Pacquiao, right?
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]