This weekend Premier Boxing Champions returns with yet another amazing main event with Erislandy Lara taking on Jarrett Hurd in a unification fight, featuring two of the top three consensus in the world at 154 pounds. According to Stephen Espinoza, President of Showtime Sports, the fight is “sort of the natural evolution of what has been an unofficial super welterweight tournament over the last year, year and a half on SHOWTIME.”
Jarrett Hurd Exclusive
In 2017, SHOWTIME televised eight matchups featuring all of the top five ranked super welterweight champions and challengers in that unofficial tournament. Now we get the natural results of that, a unification fight which happens to be only the sixth unification fight in the history of the 154-pound division. Lara versus Hurd, is one of five matchups of top five contenders, top five ranked fighters, on the SHOWTIME schedule just in the first half of this year.
Jarrett Hurd (21-0, 15 KOs) is the current undefeated IBF champion. He made the first defense of his title in October, scored seven consecutive KOs as his level of bout position has dramatically increased and has burst on the scene with his recent definitive win over Austin Trout. With his first televised fight was on the starter platform SHOBOX in 2015, the place WBC featherweight champion Gary Russell, Jr. was “discovered”, he’s been on a roll ever since.
“I’ve been fighting at 154 all my life, so we’ve been watching him since I turned professional and the style Lara presents we’ve been training for this long before this training camp,” said Hurd on a media conference call. “He’s a great champion but Lara has always been on top and we always study and the game plan we got is perfect and this is why we wanted the fight. It’s no secret how badly I wanted this fight.
“Of course, I’m not going to stay in there and try to box with Lara because Lara is an expert on what he does. Lara is not going to stand there toe-to-toe with me because of my size, inside game and my power. So it’s going to be a cat and mouse game and I just can’t wait to show you guys that outcome.”
Thirty-four year old Erislandy Lara (25-2-2, 14 KOs) is the WBA champ and the longest reigning champion at 154 pounds. Lara won the WBA title in 2014 and he’s now making his sixth defense. With a record of 25-2-2, he could easily make the case that he could be undefeated certainly with his loss to Paul Williams being very controversial and another very close split decision loss to Canelo Alvarez.
“I was the one who wanted this fight,” said Lara on the media conference call. “He won his title in February, I wanted to fight him in October and his team said he wasn’t ready to fight me in October. They wanted him to be prepared to fight another southpaw and prepare for me. So, as the pressure mounted, Jarrett Hurd decided just to fight. So I’m happy he stepped up to the plate but as everyone knows, I want his belt and I want the other belts in this division as well.”
WBA World Champion Erislandy Lara and IBF World Champion Jarrett Hurd will meet to unify titles in a defining moment for the 154-pound division. The unification match will pit the technical wizardry of Cuba’s Lara against the strength and determination of Hurd – live Saturday, April 7 at 10PM ET/7PM PT on SHOWTIME.
Many looked at the next natural opponent for either champion to be Jermell Charlo, however, according to Espinoza, this fight is a confluence of styles that will deliver marquee action.
“I think it was really the style matchup,” said Espinoza. “When we sat down and looked at them, they’re three exciting fighters, three great champions, but the matchup that was really intriguing because of the styles was Lara versus Hurd. Erislandy has never shied away from any challenge. Jarrett was very vocal about wanting to unify. And the combination of their styles, where they are in their careers, it seemed like an intriguing matchup.”
Espinoza confirmed that the winner of the fight would then look to fight Charlo and that Jermell is already on board.
“I knew both fights will eventually happen,’ said Hurd. “But I feel like the fight with Erislandy Lara will give me more credibility and will put me in position at number one. I wanted to be top guy in my division and now I feel like I am the top guy in my division. This fight, I want it over the fight with Jermell Charlo, even though the fight with Jermell Charlo is more anticipated and people want – maybe because of our styles, but I wanted this fight because I feel like it will put me to better position in the 154 division.”
With the spotlight on both the welterweight and super welterweight divisions, Lara vs. Hurd is building upon the boxing renaissance that has occurred over the past few years. This weekend in Las Vegas, Lara and Hurd will decide where the division is going and who will be next up for the man from Texas waiting in the wings, Jermell Charlo.