April 6, 2018 - 6:39 pm
Updated April 6, 2018 - 7:40 pm
Jarrett Hurd’s nickname didn’t come from a trainer after a productive workout like most boxers. His came in the kitchen with his mother’s approval.
Hurd, the IBF junior middleweight champion, and his mom, Brenda, had a brainstorming session to think of a catchy moniker.
Brenda threw out names like “24 Karat” Hurd and “Absurd” Hurd. Both vetoed.
After no luck, Jarrett Hurd picked up the Swiffer WetJet and began to mop.
“I said, ‘You know what, ma, I’m going to be Swift because I’m going to clean out my division,’” Hurd recalled.
That’s how boxing’s latest rising star became known as “Swift” Jarrett Hurd. But don’t forget, “Swift” comes before the first name, not after.
“I know some of y’all get that wrong, but that’s OK,” a smiling Hurd said.
Hurd, 27, has done what he said — clean out his division. He’s 21-0 with 15 knockouts and seven straight stoppages, including notable victories over Austin Trout and Tony Harrison.
The Accokeek, Maryland, native is now going after other 154-pound world champions, starting with Erislandy Lara, the longest reigning titlist in the division.
Hurd and Lara, the WBA champion, will meet Saturday in a title unification bout that will headline a Showtime-televised tripleheader at The Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel. Lara is a minus 130 favorite, with Hurd a plus 110 underdog, according to William Hill sports books.
On Friday, Hurd stepped on the scale at 153 pounds and Lara weighed 153.5 to make the championship fight official.
Most junior middleweights have avoided Lara, a slick southpaw Cuban who thrives on making opponents look bad with his slow methodical approach.
There’s nothing slow about Hurd, who works fast with constant pressure in the ring.
“My confidence is sky rocketed right now, and I feel like Lara is on the way out,” Hurd said. “He’s a little older. I’m the younger, fresher fighter, and I feel like this is the right time for me.
“I’m relentless. The pressure is going to be there and I won’t stop until I get what I want.”
Lara, 34, said he wants Hurd to come forward and expects his opponent’s inexperience to be his downfall. Lara (25-2-2, 14 KOs) has made six consecutive title defenses since losing to Saul “Canelo” Alvarez at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in 2014.
Hurd has never fought on the Strip, but had his coming out party in Las Vegas when he defeated Frank Galarza at the Hard Rock Hotel two years ago.
“When I came here the first time, no one knew who I was,” Hurd said. “Cameras weren’t in my face, and no one was giving me attention. Now I’m back with a unification fight in the main event.”
The last time a 154-pound fighter unified the WBA and IBF belts was when Felix Trinidad knocked out Fernando Vargas at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in 2000.
Hurd didn’t take boxing seriously when he started as an amateur at age 15. He came close to quitting because he wanted to be a firefighter.
“I wasn’t given opportunities coming up, so I really didn’t know where it was going to take me,” Hurd said. “I was doing it to make some money, and next thing I know, I looked up and I was beating a Mexican Olympian.
“I said, ‘Man, wow. I’m doing better than I thought.’ So I started thinking world title and I became hungrier for more.”
Contact Gilbert Manzano at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @GManzano24 on Twitter.
When: Saturday, 4 p.m. first bell
Where: The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel
Main event: Erislandy Lara vs. Jarrett Hurd, junior middleweight unification bout
Co-main event: Caleb Truax vs. James DeGale, IBF super middleweight title
TV: Showtime, 7 p.m.
Tickets: Axs.com or Hard Rock Hotel box office