SAN DIEGO, Calif. April 7, 2018 – As the clock ticked past midnight on the East Coast with the main event a half hour away, fans were thinking about pouring a cup of coffee before watching what everyone expected to be a tactical bout.
Go figure. “Swift” Jarrett Hurd forced WBA world champion Erislandy Lara (25-3-2, 14 KOs) of Cuba, the longest reigning title holder in the division, to engage in an action-packed fight. Thanks to Hurd’s game plan, the younger, stronger IBF champion won a razor close split decision over Lara to remain undefeated. Hurd adds Lara’s WBA and IBO titles to his resume.
Judges Glenn Feldman and Dave Moretti scored it 114-113 for Hurd, while Burt Clements had it 114-113 Lara.
“I felt that Lara came good, he was in good shape no matter what his age,” said Hurd after his victory. “I think it was me. The game plan to keep the pressure on was the deciding factor.
Hurd, visibly the bigger man, went right after Lara from the opening bell. Lara chose to engage, and traded blows with his foe for 12 sensational back and forth rounds. Hurd’s punch output outran Lara, but Lara’s accuracy with his punches kept it close through. Lara landed 176 of 576 total punches (31 percent), with 123 power punches, but Hurd landed 217 of 824 total punches (27 percent), with 188 of those being power punches.
Give Lara credit. It takes two to make a fight like this one. Despite being smaller and seven years older at age 34 than the 27-year-old Hurd, he showed a good chin and his stamina held up remarkably well. The turning point came seconds from the end of the fight. Hurd landed a solid left hook, dropping Lara to the canvas with 33 seconds left in the fight. Lara beat the count, and referee Kenny Bayliss looked him over carefully before sending the Cuban back toward Hurd. Lara made it to the final bell through sheer determination as Hurd tried to avoid leaving his fate in the hands of the Nevada judges.
The knockdown won Hurd the fight. The single extra point gave him the two winning scoreards; otherwise the fight would have been a draw.
A disappointed Lara said, “Despite when I fell in the last round, I thought I was winning the fight. That was not to decide the fight, I was winning. One punch in a fight doesn’t determine a fight.” Lara said he’d like a rematch “100 percent.”
“To define this win, it was a tough one,” said Lara. “But I went out there and did exactly what I said I was going to do
“Words can’t describe (the win), said an emotional Lara. “Years ago, I never pictured this day, and now it’s here,” as he dissolved into tears. Lara credited his family including his mother and brothers ringside for supporting him. “They gave me the opportunity to become a world champion and I did it.”
Bloodbath: DeGale takes title back from Truax in rematch
The IBF super middleweight title traded hands for the second time in five months as James “Chunky” DeGale of Great Britain (24-2-1, 14 KOs) took his belt back from “Golden” Caleb Truax of Minnesota (29-3-2, 18 KOs) after a bloody, messy brawl, resulting in a unanimous decision. Scores were 114-113 on two cards, and 117-110 on the third, which was far too wide for this close content.
The fight began with a barrage of headbutts from DeGale, and they continued in his effort to be more aggressive and correct the problems he had in his loss to Truax last December.
DeGale began bleeding from a significant cut over the right eye due to a headbutt, but it was ruled to be caused by a punch. His cutman began feverishly working on the cut. Blood continued to flow from DeGale’s cut through the remainder of the fight and it dictated the action. DeGale occasionally tried to sweep the blood away from his face. Truax went with the flow (so to speak) and happily made it a rough and messy fight, his white trunks spattered down the front.
DeGale soldiered on. He knew his career was on the line. Truax continued to crowd DeGale and lean on him. The more experienced DeGale threw fewer punches, but landed at a higher percentage and landed the harder shots, though neither man was seriously hurt by any single punch. There was so much blood on both fighters, it was difficult to see if there were additional cuts on either man. Truax accumulated two minor cuts of his own by the eighth round over each eye. It would be fair to call this bout a blood bath.
Referee Robert Byrd took a point from DeGale in the tenth round after two shoulder butting incidents. DeGale was likely trying a different tactic to push Truax off him, but not very successfully. In the 11th round, DeGale scored with a right hand, and landed several combinations, appearing driven by the urgency of losing the point in the prior round. He had a strong 12th round to make the difference.
“People find it hard to beat me. I’m happy to have my title back. Team Chunky, we’re back,” said DeGale. “Two and a half years I had that, and I lost it in December. Now I’ve got it back.” DeGale said the thought of winning back his title helped him press on, even though he couldn’t see well from the right eye. “I’m just glad I got through it. I showed some heart. In my last fight, I was unfit, I was like a little kid. I had a good camp and I’m ready to go. I want to be busy, I only have a few years left,” said DeGale.
A disappointed Truax said he thought he did enough to win the fight, “but I also thought I was pretty flat and didn’t get my shots off the way I wanted to … I felt really good coming in. I didn’t get enough punches on target.” Truax said he thought he won despite a lackluster performance.
Truax said fighting rough didn’t bother him. “Boxing is a rough game, you’ve got to roll with the punches.” Both men expressed interest in a rematch. Both men also shared the same ambulance as they traveled to University Hospital in Las Vegas to be checked out and stitched up after the bout. Boxing’s version of Uberpool? Hey, those ambulance runs are pricey.
Williams wins IBF super welterweight eliminator over Gallimore
In the opening televised bout, super welterweight Julian “J-Rock” Williams (25-1-1, 15 KOs) stayed busier and scored a majority decision win he sorely needed over Nathaniel Gallimore (20-2-1, 17 KOs). Scores were 117-110, 116-112, and 114-114, Williams now becomes the IBF mandatory challenge.
Williams started off controlling the bout, but Gallimore began to gain confidence and become more active after the first three rounds. Williams’s jab held Gallimore at bay in the early rounds, slowing down his attack. Gallimore began to work inside by necessity, trying to find a home for his power punches. Williams let him, the source of his problems in this fight.
Gallimore had only been ten rounds once, and Williams just twice. The fatigue began to show. In the ninth round, Williams landed an upper cut eerly in the round, and another with a minute left. Gallimore took it to the body but he didn’t have enough stream to make it stick. His corner encouraged him to go for the head instead. Gallimore had succsss in the 11th round, but then Williams fired back and landed sharp hooks and upper cuts on Gallimore. The combinations kept coming as Gallimore tried to survive on shaky legs. Referee Tony Weeks watched the pair like a hawk, but Gallimore survived.
The pair made it to the final bell, and Williams got the nod despite judge Patricia Morse Jarman scoring the draw. Williams landed 191 total punches to 107 for Gallimore, and this is the story of the fight. Williams still has work to do in the gym, but he will get the chance to make it pay off.
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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