Photo Credit: Stephanie Trapp/Showtime
LAS VEGAS — Jarrett Hurd needed a big finish last night and delivered a cracking left hook for a 12th round knockdown to gain a razor-thin split decision (113-114, 114-113 twice) over Erislandy Lara at the Hard Rock Casino.
The fight followed an early script of the southpaw Lara scoring clean straight lefts on his stalking foe. But unlike pre-fight predictions, Hurd was getting inside as early as the third and working the body with left hooks and uppercuts through the guard. Hurd’s size also allowed him to throw off Lara’s clinches and give the Cuban little time to reset. Hurd also alternated the speed and power on his shots, making it hard for Lara to anticipate and counter.
Despite this, Lara accounted himself well. After a tough eighth and ninth round where Hurd’s jab and bodywork kept the Cuban in a shell, Lara upped his workrate for a bounce back 10th where he stood his ground and punched in combination.
Hurd remained undeterred and his body punching left him with stronger reserves in the final two rounds. He outworked Lara in the 11th and had the Cuban in serious trouble in the 12th after dropping him with a left hook. Only 34 seconds remained and Lara had just enough elusiveness to hang on for the final bell.
The scorecards reflected the closeness of the bout with Hurd needing the knockdown to pull out two 114-113 scores in his favor.
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“It was a tough one, but I went out there and did exactly what I said I was going to do – fight all 12 rounds and get the victory,” Hurd said. “I didn’t feel like that (I needed the knockdown). I feel like I was in control the whole fight, applying the pressure.”
Lara, who suffered his first defeat since a controversial split decision to Canelo Alvarez in 2014, thought he did enough for a clear win.
“Besides the last round, I thought I was winning this fight easily,” Lara said. “That’s not to decide the fight. I was winning the fight. One punch in a fight doesn’t determine the fight. “It was a great fight for the fans. I stood there, fought and it was fun. I thought I clearly won the fight. Once again a decision goes against me, but hey we just have to do the rematch.”
Should the rematch not happen, Hurd will have the opportunity to add another title against the winner of Jermell Charlo (WBC) vs. Hugo Centeno next month.
This is the first Lara fight that’s received universal since his 2013 war with Alfredo Angulo. He turns 35 in a few days and I believe he’s slipped just enough to where he’ll have these attrition fights against younger elite guys.
As much as Lara’s pride tells him to push for an immediate rematch, it wouldn’t be wise. The punishment tonight put some serious miles on him and jumping right back in with a massive pressure fighter like Hurd probably results in a quicker loss. I’d have him rest through the summer and come back with a tuneup in September then shoot for the winner of Hurd/Charlo. It also wouldn’t surprise me to see more fighters jump at the chance of facing Lara thinking he’s now lost a step.
Speaking of Hurd, he needs to tighten up that defense to beat Charlo. He gets hit clean way too much and like previous iron-chinned pressure fighters (Margarito comes to mind), it will eventually get cracked. Charlo has been putting guys to sleep in recent fights (Lubin, Hatley, Jackson), plus he’d be the first elite guy Hurd has faced that’s close to his size.
All in all, one of the better fights I’ve seen this year. The junior middleweight division is heating up and by this time next year, we might have one champ with all four belts.