Jarrett Hurd's 12th-round knockdown of long-reigning champion Erislandy Lara secured his 154-pound title unification victory Saturday night in Las Vegas.
But a knockdown in the final round ended up proving the margin of victory for Hurd, who dethroned the Cuban veteran Lara—ending his run of seven successful title defenses on the Showtime-televised card from the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Scores were 114-113 twice for Hurd, overruling a 114-113 score in favor of Lara.
Had Hurd (22-0, 15 knockouts) not landed that big left hand, the fight would have been a draw and both champions would've held onto their bargaining chips. Instead, Hurd now has great leverage with which to bargain with other top names at super welterweight — like Jermell Charlo, who was ringside Saturday night.
Lara (25-3-2, 14 KOs) outboxed Hurd early, but the young champion never got frustrated. He knew that if he kept the volume up and kept taking the fight to Lara, eventually his youth and strength would prove to be too much for his opponent.
"It was a tough one, but I went out there and did exactly what I said I was going to do," Hurd said after the win.
“ It was a tough one, but I went out there and did exactly what I said I was going to do. ” Unified 154-pound World Champion Jarrett Hurd
Lara has now lost three fights, all three of which you could make a case for him being the winner. Hurd's victory felt more decisive than the one Canelo Alvarez got against him in 2014, and clearly more decisive than the robbery Paul Williams got against him in 2011. Hurd felt like the victory was more decisive than the scorecards.
"It was a great fight for the fans," Lara said after the fight. "I stood and fought a lot and it was fun. I thought I clearly won the fight. Once again a decision goes against me , but hey we just gotta do the rematch. Hope everyone enjoyed the fight and I'm looking forward to fight."
"I didn't feel like [it was very close]," Hurd said after the fight. "I felt like I was in control of the whole fight and I was more busy."
Hurd was definitely the busier fighter, but Lara landed lead left hands at will early in the fight. When there was space, Lara was able to use his superior skills to his advantage, but when the fight went to the inside it benefited the 27-year-old Hurd.
After the fight, Charlo was licking his chops when talking about the fight with Showtime host Brian Custer. Charlo said that Hurd gets hit too much and couldn't handle that if he was facing Charlo, and said he also felt like Lara has slipped.
Lara certainly took a lot of punishment over the 12-round fight. He still deserves to be in the mix with the top names at 154 pounds, but it wouldn't be a surprise to discover that Hurd took a lot out of him. He wants a rematch with Hurd to prove that the result was an aberration.
Lara also said after the fight he thought the knockdown in the 12th round was a slip, but in contrast to his recollection, it was a clean and effective punch.
DeGale reclaims his 168-pound IBF title with UD over Truax
James DeGale had to go through a ton of adversity in order to reclaim his IBF super middleweight title from Caleb Truax. DeGale (24-2-1, 14 KOs) suffered a heinous cut near the right eye from a headbutt early in the fight and fought through it to win a unanimous decision over Truax (29-4-2, 18 KOs) by scores of 117-110 and 114-113 twice.
The fight was best reflected by the 114-113 scores, as there was a lot of give and take. DeGale took an early lead before the cut drastically reduced his punch output until the later rounds. DeGale came on late in the fight in order to edge it out. DeGale again becomes an interesting player in the 168-pound division, particularly for a rematch with George Groves, who already has his plate full later this year with Callum Smith.
"Two-time world champion. It feels great," DeGale said. "But full credit to Caleb — he shows he can mix it with the top fighters.
"I'm just happy that I'm a two time world champion and I got my IBF world title back. I'm back, Team Chunky, we're back. Two-and-a-half years I had it and I lost it to Caleb. He embarrassed me, but we're back."
Truax (29-4-2, 18 KOs), who fought for the first time as a world champion, was disappointed and advocated for a rematch after the scores were announced.
"I thought I did enough to win the fight, but I also thought I was pretty flat and didn't get my shots off like I wanted," Truax said. "I was just a little bit flat. I felt really good coming in but I just couldn't get my shots off like the last fight. He never hurt me, but it is what it is.
"I gave him a rematch straight away so why not do it again."
Williams defeats Gallimore in 154-pound title eliminator
Julian Williams (25-1-1, 15 KOs) continued his march towards another title shot, earning a majority decision over a game but outclassed Nathaniel Gallimore (20-2-1, 17 KOs) over 12 rounds. Williams edged enough of the rounds to earn the decision, nearly stopping Gallimore in the championship salvos. Scores were 117-110, 116-112, and 114-114.
"I wasn't surprised a judge had a draw," Williams said. "Sometimes when you're fighting real close like that, it is hard for judges to score. I knew I won. Once I heard 116-112 and 117-111, I knew I won because I knew he didn't win eight rounds.
"He is a strong fighter, but I knew he was going to do what he did. Start strong early, but I knew he wasn't strong after six rounds.
For a complete look at Lara vs Hurd, check out our fight page.