A late-bloomer to the pro ranks, unbeaten Maryland native Jarrett Hurd discusses his unlikely path to becoming a 154-pound world champion and talks about the tough title test that awaits October 14 in former champ Austin Trout.
Jarrett Hurd’s ascent to becoming a 154-pound world champion followed an unlikely path.
The Accokeek, Maryland native first entered a boxing gym as a 15-year-old—a relatively late start for most boxers who turn professional—at the urging of his father, Fred Sr. Hurd’s dedication to pugilism was lukewarm as he intermittently engaged in amateur tournaments under then-coach Tom Browner.
After graduating from Gwynn Park High in Brandywine, Maryland, Hurd left the sport for good (or so he thought), in pursuit of becoming a firefighter at a junior college while splitting time as a Safeway employee.
But Browner’s death in 2010 inspired the man nicknamed “Swift” to return to boxing.
Hurd’s parents promised to financially support his early career and trainer Ernesto Rodriguez promised to make him a formidable pro.
Armed with a 76 ½-inch reach, the 6-foot-1 Hurd (20-0, 14 KOs) has stopped his past six opponents, capped by a championship-winning ninth-round TKO of Tony Harrison in February at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Hurd returns to Barclays for his most difficult test and first defense, taking on former champion Austin Trout (30-3, 17 KOs) as part of a 154-pound championship triple header on SHOWTIME.
He took a break from training to discuss his future.
Who are you sparring and where are training?
I’m training here at home at the Hillcrest Gym in Temple Hills, Maryland. Right now, one of my sparring partners is Mike “Yesindeed” Reed (23-0, 12 KOs), who has a title fight coming up. There are a few up-and-coming professionals, also.
How were you introduced to boxing?
My father influenced me. It wasn’t like I always wanted to be a boxer. I had two brothers, no sisters, and we played football, baseball and things like that. But my father wanted us to be in boxing to know how to protect ourselves.
I was 15, and he took us to the gym, and we were in there seeing guys like [126-pound champion] Gary Russell preparing for the Olympics. I sparred with some of his brothers, and I hung with them until I started getting tired. But they gave me credit for having power, and my Dad told me to stick with it.
What was your parents’ role early on in supporting you?
I owe everything to them. No one believed in me more than they did. After I graduated from high school, I felt like boxing was just something that my father put me in and didn’t realize how good I could be. I went to work at Safeway and started college, but Ernesto called and said my former trainer, Tom Browner, died.
I saw Ernesto at the funeral and said, “I need to come back.” He said, “If you come back, there’s no more playing boxing, you’ve gotta turn professional.” My parents allowed me to stop going to college and quit my first and only job at Safeway. They supported me, financially, in my dream of boxing.
Is your career a dedication to Browner?
Definitely. I started with him in 2006. He took me to a novice tournament in 2007, and the year after that, winning two years in a row, I went the national semifinals. He always told me that I could make money as a fighter, but when I graduated in 2008, I started working at Safeway.
When I got that phone call from Ernesto, all of that came back to me. I have a tattoo on my right shoulder that reads, “Thomas Willis Browner,” as a reminder of him. Ernesto’s been around since I was first in the gym, and he started training me. The bond has been there, ever since.
How did you get the name, “Swift,” and how do you feel about sharing it with Danny Garcia?
We were just sitting around the house coming up with names. One of them was Jarrett “14-carat,” but Swift is the one that just stuck.
I hadn’t really heard Danny Garcia’s nickname until he fought Erik Morales. Danny kept winning on TV, and I became a fan. We’ve become friends. I’ve been to his gym and trained with him.
Are you pumped up about returning to Barclays where you stopped Medina?
I’m super-excited. It’s close to home and a lot of my fans will be able to come and see me. Fighting at Barclays Center gets me hyped. It’s one of the best venues to fight in.
The last fight there was one of the biggest cards of 2016 with the main event being Keith Thurman beating Shawn Porter. The atmosphere was crazy, and I’m hoping that it’s similar to that.
What are Trout’s skills?
This is definitely my toughest fight. Austin Trout is definitely a crafty veteran who has been in there with some of the best. His losses have been to top champions Canelo Alvarez, Erislandy Lara and Jermall Charlo. He definitely knows all of the tricks.
One thing Trout has that a lot of others don’t is knowing how to survive and make it throughout 12 rounds. We’re not going out there just looking for the stoppage, but that would be a big statement for me. It’s going to be tough to try to get one against Trout.
But I also know the Trout you saw against Canelo was the last of the best Trout you’ve seen. From his last fights with Lara and Charlo, I don’t think he’s the same Trout anymore. He doesn’t seem as mobile or use the ring as much…I got a Trout to catch.
I’m on a streak of six straight knockouts. Trout’s never been stopped. I’m looking for the stoppage and a statement other fighters couldn’t make. I didn’t have to take this fight. It’s a voluntary defense, but I wanted to prove to fans I’m a real deal, true champion.
Do you see any similarities between Trout and the last southpaw you stopped in the sixth round, Jo Jo Dan?
No, Jo Jo Dan is a completely different southpaw than Trout. Jo Jo Dan was coming up in weight and smaller, so he had to try to stay close to me and stay inside.
I don’t think Trout is going to fight anything like that. Trout puts more power on his shots, and Jo Jo Dan threw more pitty-pat, volume punches.
How does beating a southpaw in Trout prepare you for future left-handers like Lara or Lubin?
This is the perfect opportunity for me to beat one southpaw. If Lara and Lubin are victorious, then this is preparation for facing them, if not, Charlo.
With me, Trout and Gausha, this card displays all of the top guys at 154. It’s kind of like a tournament, so I’m looking to go out there to put on a show.
I’m completely focused on beating Trout, for now, but I feel like I have more questions to answer, and beating Trout in dominant fashion will do that.
Do you have a boxing hero or fighter whom you admire?
Roy Jones Jr., 100 percent. The way he fought in the ring and the skills he displayed, the only person who caught my attention was Roy Jones Jr. He was the pound-for-pound No. 1 guy at the time.
Of all the boxers in history, who do you wish you could’ve fought, and how would the fight have played out?
James Toney. He’s a guy I’ve studied a lot to learn how to fight on the inside. I feel like a toe-to-toe fighter like James Toney who is slick would be a great fight, but of course I would win.
Finish this sentence: If not for boxing, I would be …
I would be a firefighter, which is what I was in school for. Fire science.
What’s the hardest you’ve ever been hit, and how did you deal with it?
I’ve never been dazed, but the most effective shot I’ve been hit with was in the fight with Tony Harrison. In the seventh round, he hit me directly in my eyeball and I couldn’t see for the rest of that round.
But that caused me to bring my left hand up and be more focused. People don’t see the fact that I had to maintain my composure, losing the early rounds but keeping the pressure on.
I wanted to do things differently, but my coaches didn’t want me to show my right hand until later on in the fight to set it up, and it worked out perfectly.
What about a favorite punch to throw?
My favorite punch to throw is definitely the right uppercut. Against Frank Galarza, I landed a big one in the fourth round and stopped him with uppercuts in the sixth round. I think people are starting to pick up on that, now. So I’ve switched things up a little bit.
Do you have a favorite boxing movie?
I liked the last Creed movie. I liked seeing the view of our time and our generation of boxing. People study a lot of old film, but this was more about what’s going on during our time.
If you could have dinner with any four people in history, living or dead, who would they be?
Roy Jones Jr., Barack Obama, Floyd Mayweather and Martin Luther King Jr. With Jones and Mayweather, the topic would definitely be about boxing, but Obama and King would be more about knowing how to be a leader in this world.
BY LEM SATTERFIELD