Hurd looks to inch closer to 154-pound title shot with win over Dan

Jarrett Hurd has stepped up his competition in recent fights, and the results have moved him ever closer to his first title opportunity.

Jarrett Hurd and Jeff Lentz

Jarrett Hurd has knocked out four straight opponents, including Jeff Lentz in October 2015, heading into Saturday night's 10-round bout against former title challenger Jo Jo Dan. (Lucas Noonan/Premier Boxing Champions)

Taking on undefeated prospects Oscar Molina and Frank Galarza in his last two bouts, Hurd stopped both men as he continued his climb up the 154-pound rankings.

Now Jarrett Hurd (18-0, 12 KOs) faces another tough test Saturday night when he battles onetime world title challenger Jo Jo Dan (35-3, 18 KOs) in a 10-round undercard bout at Temple University's Liacouras Center in Philadelphia (Spike, 9 p.m. ET/PT) before the main event between Danny Garcia and Samuel Vargas.

Fighting on the undercard of the Keith Thurman-Shawn Porter 147-pound title bout in June, Hurd dominated Molina—who entered the fight with a record of 13-0-1—dropping him in the first round and continuing the onslaught until referee Ricky Gonzalez stopped the action at 2:02 of the 10th and final round.

“It was huge being on the Keith Thurman-Shawn Porter undercard,” Hurd said. “I had to put the pressure aside and prove myself with another dominating performance.

“My trainer [Ernesto Rodriguez] and I knew the fight was close after four rounds. We fought inside to make it obvious I was winning. That’s Molina’s style, but I showed my diversity and beat him at his own game.”

That win followed another impressive showing for the boxer nicknamed “Swift.” Last November in Las Vegas, Hurd was an underdog against Frank Galarza, who was 17-0-2, then went out and dropped his foe in the fourth round on his way to a sixth-round stoppage.

Fighting in a stacked 154-pound weight class that features world champions Jermall Charlo, Jermell Charlo, Erislandy Lara and Canelo Alvarez—as well as rising contenders such as Demetrius Andrade, Julian Williams and Erickson Lubin—Hurd knows he needs another decisive victory Saturday to keep pace in the division.

“The other guys are watching, so I definitely want to look impressive,” Hurd said. “I’m known for my big right uppercut. If it lands for the knockout, great, but I won’t force anything.”

Hurd, 26, originally was scheduled to fight Saturday against Jorge Cota, who withdrew in late October after undergoing an emergency appendectomy.

Dan is a 35-year-old southpaw who was born in Romania but resides in Montreal. In his last fight—an eight-round unanimous decision over former 147-pound title challenger Rafal Jackiewicz in September 2015—Dan weighed 154½ pounds after competing around 147 for most of his career.

Dan challenged Kell Brook for a 147-pound world title in March 2015, but was knocked down four times before his corner stopped the fight at the end of the fourth round. His other two losses both came by decision at 147 pounds against then-unbeaten Selcuk Aydin in June 2010 and November 2011, respectively.

In Hurd’s last two fights against southpaws, he struggled to beat Emmanuel Sanchez by six-round majority decision in December 2014 and edged Chris Chatman by six-round split decision in January 2014.

Despite those slim victories, Hurd believes he will have an easier time getting past the left-handed Dan.

“Jo Jo likes to move around like Chatman, who was about the same size,” Hurd said. “He's faced champions, brings his ‘A’ game and can make you look bad. But with Dan rising in weight, my size and power will be the difference.”

Dan’s résumé includes two split-decision wins over Kevin Bizier, who was stopped in the second round by Brook in a 147-pound title bout in March, and a six-round technical decision over former 130-pound champion Steve Forbes in February 2011.

“Dan’s durable and experienced against solid fighters, but I predict Jarrett stops him in the seventh or eighth,” Rodriguez said. “He’ll give Jarrett some awkward looks, but sometimes he’ll stand and fight. Jarrett can catch him early or get him late.”

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