SAN DIEGO, Calif. April 6, 2018 – Several divisions in boxing are sorting themselves out in 2018. It’s a little like the students at Hogwarts, waiting for word from the sorting hat. Fortunately, the boxers have a little more say about their eventual fate with a tripleheader boxing card from Las Vegas on Saturday. The card airs on Showtime Boxing at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT
WBA world champion Erislandy Lara (25-2-2, 14 KOs) of Cuba, now the longest reigning title holder in the division, makes the seventh defense of his title against IBF champion Jarrett Hurd (21-0, 14 KOs) of Maryland.
Lara, a classic Cuban trained tactician, dominated Terrell Gausha in October including a fifth round knockdown, handing the Olympian his first loss. On the same card, Hurd put on a barn burner of a fight with Austin Trout. Trout tested the younger man, but once Hurd settled down and started retruning fire against Trout, he gained the upper hand. He opened a cut over Trout’s eye and started dishing out enough punishment to force Trout’s corner to stop the bout.
After the bout, Hurd said he was ready to unify, and he’s getting the opportnity against Lara. “I didn’t get into this sport to be anything but number one. Lara is the top guy, but after Saturday night it’s going to be me,” said Hurd. “The fight is coming at the right time for me because my confidence is very high right now. He’s a little older, so I’ll be the younger and fresher fighter. I just feel like it’s my time. I’m going to be relentless. I’m not stopping until I get what I want.”
Lara has heard words like this from many opponents before Hurd. “I’ve fought better and taller fighters than him, and you’ve seen me dominate them. It’s going to be nothing different on Saturday night. I want him to come forward. That’s what I’m prepared for. I’m going to give him a lesson on Saturday night,” declared Lara.
Lara said he gives Hurd credit for taking the fight. He believes Hurd is “hittable,” and warned at the final news conference Hurd “better have worked on some defense or it won’t llast very long.”
Lara’s only two losses were hotly disputed decisions, one against Paul Williams in 2011 and one against Canelo Alvarez in 2014. The judges’ scorecards since then have swung wide in Lara’s favor. He knows how to neutralize a power puncher’s best weapons. Opponents like Hurd can grow frustrated when their tools are taken away. They make mistakes trying to make something happen. It may not make for a barn burner, but perhaps the young lion will find the key to the Cuban puzzle.
Truax wants to prove a point against DeGale
The co-main event should make up for any lack of fireworks at the top of the card. Improbable IBF super middleweight champion Caleb Truax of Minnesota (29-3-2, 18 KOs), and former champion James DeGale of Great Britain (23-2-1, 14 KOs) fight a rematch of their 2017 Upset of the Year last December.
Truax, age 34, started boxing to pay off his college loans at the University of Minnesota. With three losses (to Daniel Jacobs, Anthony Dirrell, and Jermain Taylor), Jacobs was considered a journeyman when he went to the Copper Box Arena in Hackney last December. He defused and dominated DeGale, so much that the judges couldn’t deny the victory over the hometown fighter. To hear “And the new” on the opponent’s home turf is a rare achievement in boxing.
Truax’s stature and notoriety skyrocketed overnight. His talents remained underrated for years, in part due to his status out of the mainstream boxing community. Truax turned fans into believers last October. His likeability factor and Cinderella story carry a lot of appeal.
Truax said he’s out to prove he belongs at the top of the division with a victory to prove his win over DeGale wasn’t a fluke. “I’ve been through a lot in this sport,” said Truax. “I’ve fought top guys in big fights, but it finally came together last December. It meant a lot to me and now I’m prepared to put on an even better performance.”
DeGale admitted his last performance was ‘horrendous.’ “It was shocking and embarrasing. I’m not going to make excuses about my shoulder and what went wrong. On Saturday night I will be a two-time world champion. I promise you that.”
DeGale says he know what went wrong. He admitted he had a gray cloud over his head the past few months, but he will put it all to rest with a win. “This time has turned me into a beast. I’ve had to take everything even more seriously than before. I might have got a bit complacent being a champion those last few years. I’ve locked myself down and I’m ready to go.” DeGale promises he won’t overlook Truax this time.
Truax said he knows DeGale will be hungry and he’s got to be ready. “I knew we were going to have a rematch, so I was right back in the gym in a couple of weeks … I’m going to give it my all to bring that belt back home to Minnesota.”
DeGale’s fight against Badou Jack in January 2017 left him badly roughed up. His loss to Truax raised questions whether he came back into the ring too quickly. The former champion also took significant punishment from Truax, and whether five months was enough time to rebound comes into play again. DeGale is two years younger than Truax at 32, but he has struggled to maintain any upward movement. It’s the opposite for Truax. His career is on the rise and he feels limitless possibilities. The wear and tear on DeGale and the lack of career momentum add up. We see another decision in favor of Truax on Saturday.
Williams faces career crossroads fight against Gallimore
In the opening bout, super welterweights Julian “J-Rock” Williams 24-1-1, 15 KOs) and Nathaniel Gallimore (20-1-1, 17 KOs) will fight in an IBF eliminator content. Williams’ career rides on the outcome of this bout. Although he only has the single loss to Jermall Charlo, he has failed to progress or impress.
Gallimore is a native of Jamaica who only turned pro in 2015. He fought 11 bouts in 2015 (no, that’s not a typo), seven in 2016, and four bouts last year. This will be his first 12 round bout. Twelve of Gallimore’s 20 knockouts came in the first round.
“I didn’t want to get into the trash talk this camp,” said Williams. “He’s a solid fighter and I don’t underestimate anyone. But he seems like a bully … He’s a nobody who wants some attention. I’m going to give him a lot of attention on Saturday night. I’m going to shut this guy up.”
“It’s going to be a spectacular fight,” promised Gallimore. “I’m going to demolish him in grand fashion. He’s never faced anyone like me before. When I touch him, it’s over … Saturday night I’m going to wipe the smile off his face.” Gallimore said he has a huge opportunity. “The division is mine for the taking. I study my opponent and I stalk them in the ring. Everyone will see what’s going to happen Saturday.”
You better be in your seat at the opening bell for this one. If Gallimore’s power holds up against an established pro like Williams, we’ll be in for a treat.
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Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is a veteran boxing observer covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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