There is nothing logical or sane about boxing matchmaking. The fights the public most wants to see are the ones that are seemingly the most difficult to put together.
But the picture is a little clearer for Jarrett Hurd, the unified super welterweight champion who fights Julian Williams on Saturday at EagleBank Arena in Fairfax, Virginia, for the IBF-WBA titles in a bout televised on Fox.
Hurd wants to become the undisputed super welterweight champion and be recognized as one of the pound-for-pound greats in the sport.
The path toward those goals is a lot clearer and more direct than it is for other fighters who harbor similar aspirations. There are plenty of good potential opponents for Hurd, beginning with Williams, a highly regarded boxer from Philadelphia who is 26-1-1 with 16 knockouts and whose only loss was to Jermall Charlo.
Other potential Hurd opponents, like Jermell Charlo and WBC champion Tony Harrison, are also with the Premier Boxing Champions.
And, if truth be told, Hurd already has a good argument to make for inclusion on the mythical pound-for-pound list. He’s 23-0 with 16 KOs in a young career that already includes victories over Erislandy Lara, Harrison and Austin Trout.
He’s also likely to gain attention because he fights a fan-friendly style. When he’s queried about his defense, he points out correctly that he is hit more now than earlier in his career because he’s facing better opponents, but he’s not one to shy away from contact.
If you like Hurd as a fighter, it’s because you know there’s a better-than-even chance he’s going to make it a memorable slugfest.
“My defense is getting better, but what people have to understand is that I kept stepping up the competition I was facing,” Hurd said. “So of course I got hit more, but if you look at the stats, my opponent got hit even more than me. Because of my style it looks like I take a lot of punches. I expect to get hit in this fight but, I’m ready to hit him more.
“It’s hard to tell what type of fight this is going to be. I want to say that he's going to try to box, but I said that about Erislandy Lara and we saw that he stood toe-to-toe with me. Because of my size, I don't really think Julian Williams is going to try to do that. He's going to try to get his shots off and score points and make it through 12 rounds.”
Hurd is a monstrous super welterweight, and there are legitimate questions about whether he can continue to make the division’s 154-pound weight limit much longer. Terence Crawford, the WBO welterweight champion and Yahoo Sports’ pound-for-pound best boxer in the world, posted a photo of himself on Twitter with Hurd:
— Terence Crawford (@terencecrawford) May 7, 2019
Hurd dwarfs Crawford, though they are only a division apart. His size enables him to physically manhandle opponents when need be, and combined with his athleticism makes him a difficult challenge for anyone in the division.
Williams has fought on the same card as Hurd the last two times they’ve competed, so they have a good sense of what to expect.
Williams has been working to get back to the championship level since being stopped by Jermall Charlo, who now hold the WBC middleweight title. And though it’s been two-and-a-half years, he never doubted he’d get the opportunity.
“I knew 100 percent that I would get another shot,” Williams said. “I know that I’m a top 154-pound fighter. I just had to get back in there and keep fighting. You can't stay down too long. You just get back up on the horse. I knew this time would be coming. I think that all of my fights have prepared me for this opportunity, not just the Charlo fight.
“I learned from the 21 fights I had before that too. The Charlo fight gave me a chance to go back to the drawing board and work on a bunch of things. I have championship experience and that's invaluable.”
Williams isn’t averse to letting his hands go and trading shots, but it seems unlikely he’ll try that tact with Hurd simply because of Hurd’s huge frame.
Hurd, though, says he’s prepared for whatever Williams may bring.
“My confidence level is sky high,” Hurd said. “I want to make it one-sided all the way through. I have a different game plan for each fight. You never know what style I’ll bring out.”
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