Jarrett Hurd already was pumped up about the opportunity awaiting him Saturday night. And then the stakes were raised dramatically last week.
Hurd’s bout against Tony Harrison was scheduled to be a 154-pound title eliminator, with the winner becoming the No. 1 challenger for Jermall Charlo’s world championship. But Charlo announced Thursday that he was relinquishing his crown and moving up in weight, which elevated Harrison-Hurd to a battle for the vacated title.
When the news came down, Jarrett Hurd could barely contain his excitement.
“We were sitting in the gym, and we got the call [saying], ‘This is it, this is what you worked for,’” Hurd said. “I went home and ran a couple of miles that night thinking about it because I know … it could be a once in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“This is what all boxers dream of, to fight for the world title. I was super excited. We were jumping around the gym. We knew this day was going to come. It came faster than I expected, but I'm ready.”
Hurd (19-0, 13 KOs) has stopped five straight opponents heading into his title clash with Harrison (24-1, 20 KOs) at Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama (FOX, 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT).
Of course, knocking guys out has been the norm since the fighter known as “Swift” made his pro debut in September 2012 with a first-round KO of Mike Arnold at the Convention Center in Washington, D.C.
Most recently, the 6-foot-1 Hurd earned a sixth-round TKO of former 147-pound title challenger Jo Jo Dan in Philadelphia in November. Prior to that, he gained stoppages of previously unbeaten Oscar Molina and Frank Galarza to make the leap from prospect to contender.
Now the 26-year-old Accokeek, Maryland, native finds himself in the enviable position of competing for a world title earlier than he anticipated.
“It was already in the talks, and we kind of had a couple of conversations that Jermall Charlo was going to vacate. We just wanted to get it finalized then,” Hurd said. “I knew if it wasn't this fight, it would be my next fight … so I knew 2017 was going to be a big year for me.”
If Hurd is able to emerge victorious Saturday, he hopes to make his first title defense close to home, especially with the recent opening of MGM National Harbor resort in nearby Oxon Hill, Maryland.
“That actually was my plan. After this fight, after winning the belt, I was going to try to ask if I could [have] a hometown fight," said Hurd, who last fought in the D.C. area in November 2014 when he gained a first-round KO of Terry Cade.
“I haven't been fighting at home lately. Now I know I have a lot of people coming out [Saturday], but fighting at home is something different. Just to be able to be a world champion and fight here [in Maryland], that's definitely a goal of mine. I can't wait to achieve it.”
For a complete look at Harrison vs Hurd, visit our fight page.