LR_SHO FIGHT NIGHT-LARA VS HURD-TRAPPFOTOS-04072018-2214

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.

LR_SHO FIGHT NIGHT-LARA VS HURD-TRAPPFOTOS-04072018-1566

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.

“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.

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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.

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Drake_NiceforWhat_Letitia

What do you get when you mix Lauryn Hill’s “Ex-Factor” and New Orleans bounce music? You get Drake’s “Nice for What,” an uptempo celebration of all things women. Littered with numerous celebrity appearances from the likes of Issa Rae, Tiffany Haddish, Letitia Wright and others, the lyrics chronicle women handling business in all aspects of life. Whether it’s holding court within a corporate meeting, partying with homegirls, or pulling up on a hater, the persistent message is all these women are living in their truth without apologies.

The only thing missing from these visuals was Ms. Hill herself.

Lara_Hurd

Watch the Friday weigh-in for the 154-pound unification matchup between WBA champion Erislandy Lara and IBF-titleholder Jarrett Hurd. This will be Lara’s toughest fight in years as he’s facing a younger, bigger and stronger fighter who also utilizes a relentless pressure style.

Also on hand for the weigh-in will be the televised undercard featuring James DeGale seeking revenge against Caleb Truax, and Julian “J-Rock” Williams taking Nathaniel Gallimore. The card airs Saturday night on Showtime at 9 p.m. ET.

Joshua_Parker

21 fights, 3 belts and one more to go. Anthony Joshua went the 12-round distance for the first time last night and taking a wide decision over formerly undefeated Joseph Parker before 80,000 fans at Principality Stadium.

Parker, playing the role of spoiler, fought exclusively off the backfoot while shooting multiple jabs and looking to steal rounds with isolated right hands. This allowed Joshua to methodically press the action behind sporadic straight shots to the body and clipping left hooks inside. Parker showed good defense in avoiding Joshua’s deadly uppercut, but couldn’t get anything going inside due to an inexperienced ref breaking action too quickly.

The slow action through four rounds made the stanzas close, but Joshua continually held the edge due to his aggression and harder shots, particularly when he forced Parker to give ground from jabs. Parker got more aggressive in the middle rounds, briefly stunning Joshua with a short right hook in the fifth and outworking his foe in the seventh. But Parker failed to take any risks afterward and seemed content to make it to the final bell.

The scores reflected this in Joshua winning unanimously 118-110 (twice) and 119-109.

The big news from the contest was the post-fight interview where Joshua declared he wanted Deontay Wilder. I’m still not convinced we get it next, but the public banter will continue building the hype internationally. My gut tells me Wilder does bite and take the Dillian Whyte fight while Joshua gets a massive domestic payday against Tyson Fury. Should Joshua and Wilder retain, we’ll finally get the final unification sometime around May 2019.

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Povetkin_Price

It was a matter of time. The narrative was how bad the knockout would be when Alexander Povetkin finally landed a series of hard shots on David Price. The fall was appropriately chilling when a flush left hook bounced Price’s head off the canvas in round five.

When the 6’8 Price fought tall, he found success in countering the 6’2 Povetkin with left hooks from mid-range. This shot resulted in Price scoring a flash knockdown in the third. But overall, Povetkin’s quicker hands and technique allowed him to get inside and punish Price with snapping hooks. The punishment opened a cut above the left eye to accompany a bloody nose and mouth.

This should absolutely be Price’s last time in the ring. He’s 34 and this was a Hail Mary chance to get back in contention. Furthermore, it was an audition to make Povetkin credible as an opponent for Anthony Joshua or possibly even Dillian Whyte should the Wilder bout fail to materialize.

 

Joshua_Parker

Watch the live stream of this morning’s official weigh-in for the heavyweight unification clash between Anthony Joshua and Joseph Parker. Both men have claimed to have slimmed down for this contest, but who’ll be in better shape? The stream opens at 8:30 a.m. ET with the fight airing on Showtime Saturday March 31 at 5 p.m. ET.

Whyte_Brown

Dillian Whyte needed to make a statement in his HBO debut. He did that by dominating Lucas Browne and leaving the towering Australian motionless face-down on the canvas via a flush left hook in round six.

Any thought of this fight being competitive ceased after the opening round. Browne looked out of shape and sluggish at 264 pounds, his highest weight in three years. Whyte got off first with the jab, dominated inside with uppercuts, and knocked Browne backwards with clubbing overhand rights. Browne’s face opening up quickly with blood gushing from his nose to accompany two swollen eyes and cuts.

The fight should have stopped at the end of the fifth. Browne’s corner opted to send him out for another beating and Whyte put him flat on his face with a left hook.

With the impressive win, Whyte aims to become the mandatory for Deontay Wilder’s WBC heavyweight title. Whyte did his part by profusely calling out Wilder in his post-fight interview.

Wilder is holding out hope to face unified WBA/IBF champion Anthony Joshua, who has his own business to handle March 31 when he takes on WBO title-holder Joseph Parker. But should that Joshua-Wilder not happen, Whyte would be a more high-profile and lucrative option for Wilder than his other proposed opponent, Dominic Breazeale.

The win improves Whyte’s record to 23-1 while Browne suffers his first career defeat at 38 years old, falling to 25-1.